Arjan Bhullar and Anatoly Malykhin will finally settle their heated rivalry and unify the ONE Heavyweight World Titles at ONE Friday Fights 22 on Friday, Jun. 23, and both men have been levying verbal jabs at the other in the lead-up to the event.
Although Bhullar has been out of action since claiming the heavyweight gold in May 2021, he steadfastly refuses to recognize Malykhin’s interim title as legitimate.
For “Singh,” this is not a unification match – it’s a straight World Title defense.
“First, he’s not a two-division World Champion. If I win, it will be, ‘And still…’ And if he wins, it will be, ‘And the new…’ There’s only one ONE Heavyweight World Champion,” Bhullar told ONE Championship.
“But, he’s a light heavyweight World Champion. I’m the World Champion of the heavyweight division, and we’re going to fight, and that’s what it is.”
While Bhullar has been away from the global stage, Malykhin has risen to the top of the mountain. Not just in the heavyweight division, but in the light heavyweight bracket as well.
The undefeated Russian has simply been untouchable since arriving in ONE in 2021, but Bhullar says he will test his foe’s mettle inside Lumpinee Boxing Stadium on Jun. 23.
“There’s been a lot of questions that haven’t been answered. I’m going to ask them, and I don’t think he has the answers,” he said.
“He’s never been punched. He’s never been kicked. He’s never been kneed. He’s never been taken down. He’s never been backed up. He’s never been made uncomfortable. He’s never been made to fight someone else’s fight. He’s never been made to fight on his back foot. He’s never been made to go deep into a fight where he throws everything onto a guy and the guy is still there.”
“Those are a lot of questions. And his character? I do not think it will hold up.”
Malykhin hasn’t had Bhullar’s name out of his mouth since his first outing in ONE. His singular mission has been to collect the ONE Heavyweight World Championship, and he has made it clear that he believes the heavyweight king is afraid to face him by repeatedly refering to him as chicken.
Those verbal barbs have not affected “Singh,” though. At least, according to the man himself.
“Let him bark. We’ll see what kind of bite he has. It’s easy to bark, and it’s easy to bite when no one is fighting you back,” Bhullar stated.
“I’m not like anything else he’s faced. I’m going to run through him. I truly do believe that. I don’t see this going any other way.”
All the talking will cease on Jun. 23. Both men will step inside the ring and determine who truly deserves to reign as the true king of the heavyweights.
For Bhullar, it comes with a heightened sense of responsibility, as the event will air in primetime in his native India.
As the country’s first-ever MMA World Champion, Bhullar wants to continue fostering the sport’s growth in the nation with a huge performance in front of the nation.
“I’m excited that fans will be able to watch on primetime. I’m a primetime-type fighter. Primetime, all eyes on us. That’s what I want, and I want to put this guy away in front of as many eyeballs as possible,” he said.
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