ONE Championship is having some complications with their heavyweight champion Arjan Bhullar.
Bhullar won the ONE Heavyweight Championship last April, where he TKO’ed Brandon Vera in dominant fashion. Since then, the only fight with Bhullar has been booking an opponent for his return. It hasn’t looked good as of late.
Eight months after winning the belt, no title defense has been made. Negotiations remain at a standstill between ONE and their champion. With no luck in booking Bhullar, the show must go on.
ONE Is Moving On
ONE Championship made an announcement on Monday.
“Arjan and his management team have declined multiple offers to defend the ONE Heavyweight World Championship under his current contract,” ONE CEO Chatri Sityodtong said.
“While this plays out, the show must go on in our heavyweight division, so we will be crowning an interim world champion between top contenders Anatoly Malykhin and Kirill Grishenko.”
Somebody’s 0 Has Got To Go
With Bhullar watching from the bench, heavy hitters Anatoly Malykhin and Kirill Grishenko will clash for the interim heavyweight title at ONE: Only The Brave on January 28th.
Malykhin comes into the fight, sporting a perfect 10-0 record. Two wins at ONE Championship would earn him a shot at interim gold. He is coming off a first round TKO of Amir Aliakbari last September.
Grishenko has half of his wins, repping a 5-0 record. He enters the fight with a 90% finishing rate and a win over the hyped ‘Reug Reug’ AKA Oumar Kane.
Not The First Time We’ve Seen This
It is unclear why Arjan Bhullar isn’t taking any fights at the moment. Eight months should be enough time for the champion to book a title defense, but it hasn’t been the case.
‘Singh’ has a similar situation to what UFC heavyweight king Francis Ngannou had earlier this year. Both men are represented by Creative Artists Agency (CAA) and share a familiar experience.
Ngannou wanted to defend his title in September of this year, but the UFC wanted to book him against Derrick Lewis in August. Not wanting to return in August, the promotion would instead create an interim title between Lewis and Cyril Gane.
Bhullar’s situation is a bit different, with him reportedly declining multiple fight offers in different months. But, an interim title has been created in the wake of his scheduling problems with ONE Championship.