Exclusive | ONE Championship: Anatoly Malykhin challenging Arjan Bhullar for heavyweight title in Fight Night 8 main event, source says
- Pair will clash in Singapore on March 25, with event to be broadcast live on Amazon’s Prime Video streaming service in US
- ‘Sleep time, one round,’ interim champ Malykhin says, as ONE looks to finally crown an undisputed heavyweight MMA king
ONE Championship’s heavyweight MMA division will finally have an undisputed king, with Anatoly Malykhin and Arjan Bhullar’s long-awaited title fight officially set.
The pair will clash in the main event of ONE Fight Night 8 in Singapore on March 25, a source has told the Post.
The event will take place on Saturday morning at Singapore Indoor Stadium, and will be streamed live on the evening of March 24 on Amazon Prime Video in the US and Canada.
Indian-Canadian Bhullar (11-1) had indicated the fight was set, when he posted on Instagram this week. “Perfect start to 2023,” he wrote. “Contract offered and contract signed. See you guys live on Amazon Prime.”
“Sleep time, one round,” Malykhin (12-0) told the Post, echoing a similar refrain from fight week in Manila last month. It ultimately proved to be the case when he knocked out Reinier de Ridder in the first round at Mall of Asia Arena to claim the light heavyweight title.
“It will also be history time,” Malykhin’s coach John Hutchinson told the Post. “Back to back stoppages, real champ. You’ll see the best Anatoly. Slow inflicted pain.”
“We won’t hold our breath on Bhullar fighting either,” Tiger Muay Thai’s head boxing coach added. “But Anatoly is ready for anyone.”
The fight has been in the making for nearly a year, with 34-year-old Russian Malykhin – who trains out of Phuket, Thailand – having won the interim title with a second-round TKO of Kirill Grishenko in February 2022.
That clash was booked to keep the heavyweight division moving in the absence of Bhullar, who was in the midst of contract renegotiations. The 36-year-old has still not fought since winning the belt in April 2021 with a second-round TKO of Brandon Vera.
Undefeated Malykhin – who has four finishes in as many fights since debuting in ONE in March 2021 – has been demanding the title unification bout ever since, and he has frequently poked fun at Bhullar on social media, calling his rival “chicken”.
They were set to finally face off last September in Singapore, only for Bhullar to undergo surgery on a bicep injury.
That prompted a frustrated Malykhin to drop down and challenge De Ridder – where he successfully picked up his second double US$100,000 performance bonus of 2022, helping him to be crowned MMA Athlete of the Year by ONE.
“He’s just weak,” Malykhin said of Bhullar via translator at the ONE on Prime Video 5 post-event press conference in Manila.
“He doesn’t deserve to be in ONE Championship, because it [Bhullar dropping out] just happens every single time.”
“He’s not a 2 weight champ,” Bhullar wrote on Instagram in response. “He’s now the light heavyweight champ.
“It’s easy to punch out a BJJ guy with 0 takedown ability. He did what he was supposed to. Let me do what I’m supposed to. I was told March earlier this week. Still waiting on the paperwork.”