ONE Light Heavyweight and Interim Heavyweight World Champion Anatoly Malykhin has rapidly risen to become one of mixed martial arts’ biggest stars. But he has an important piece of unfinished business to take care of this week — a meeting with Arjan Bhullar.
Bhullar is the reigning ONE Heavyweight World Champion, and Malykhin has been calling him out since arriving in ONE in 2021. However, the match has failed to come to fruition due to various factors.
That changes on Friday, June 23, when the unification bout for the coveted crown goes down at ONE Friday Fights 22.
The Russian powerhouse is confident he’ll become the undisputed king of the division in his upcoming fight, but he’s also aware that his upcoming foe has been noncommital in the past, so he’s not putting the cart before the horse.
“I felt certainty that I will become the absolute ONE Heavyweight World Champion, which I believe I am already. However, there was a small technicality left – this fight with Bhullar,” Malykhin told ONE.
“I was glad to see his name on the contract when I got sent it. He’s already signed contracts three or four times and never showed up to a fight. Therefore, we will see what happens this time. The important thing is that he makes an effort to get himself right to the ring.”
Although “Sladkiy” has the interim tag on his title, he believes he is the World Champion already. That belief comes from the fact that Bhullar has yet to defend the strap since winning it in May 2021.
But regardless of that stakes hang over the bout, Malykhin is just happy to go out and take center stage one more time.
“I believe that a man who doesn’t fight and who has been holding up the whole division for over two years is not a champion. He should not be fighting in any league at all,” the two-division king said.
“Overall, it doesn’t matter to me what name is on the contract – be it Bhullar or “Buchecha.” I am happy to fight against any opponent, happy to be given another chance to show the audience my skills, [but] I hope this time the fight will happen.”
If Malykhin lacks anything, it is certainly not confidence.
“Sladkiy” has been highly dismissive of Bhullar’s chances to win this Friday, and he even foresee the possibility that it will go the judge’s scorecards.
“He has no chance at all. I’ll just knock him out. He’ll last until the second round at the most. There is no chance for him to last for five rounds,” Malykhin said.
Nonetheless, the Russian superstar promises that it be an unmissable affair.
He is 4-0 in ONE, with every fight ending in spectacular fashion, so fans will want to tune in to see if he can score his fifth highlight-reel finsih in a row.
“I always aim for a knockout. I always try to be faster than my opponents and give a good show. I have to give it my all so that the audience enjoys those moments,” Malykhin said.
“My fight with Bhullar is worth watching simply because I will be knocking him out. Everyone loves knockouts, when big boys fall down – beautiful!”
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