Arjan Bhullar’s return will have to wait.
ONE Championship announced on Wednesday that the reigning heavyweight champion’s bout with interim champion Anatoly Malykhin is off the lineup of an upcoming March 24 event in Singapore. Bhullar and Malykhin were to meet in a title unification bout in the main event.
According to ONE Championship officials, the fight will be rescheduled to a later date in 2023 after the matchup was cancelled “due to a shift in broadcaster commitments.”
The news was first reported by Claro Sports.
A flyweight kickboxing bout between Superlek and Rodtang has been promoted to the headlining spot.
Speaking with MMA Fighting on Wednesday, Bhullar admits it’s “very frustrating” to once again have to postpone his return to the cage.
“Chatri got on the phone with me multiple times through this so I thank him and the organization for that,” Bhullar said. “Very, very frustrating, and I’m sure for my opponent as well, for my coaches, for my family. It’s not just a fighter that trains and gets ready for a fight, right? For the whole team. We were so ready to get going, but there’s partners that make fights happen. You need an opponent, you need the company to put it on, you have broadcast partners, all of that.”
Bhullar said “the rescheduling should be right around the corner”. A definitive date is yet to be selected, but guarantees “it’s not gonna be six months or something like this.”
Bhullar (11-1) has been out of action since May 2021. He was scheduled to fight Malykhin in a unification bout this past September, but withdrew from that booking due to an injury. He won ONE’s heavyweight title in 2019 and successfully defended it once, defeating Brandon Vera by second-round TKO in his most recent fight.
Malykhin (12-0) is currently a two-division champion having won a vacant heavyweight title in February 2022 and then beating the previously undefeated Reinier de Ridder 10 months later to claim the Dutchman’s light heavyweight belt.
“I’ve been told as well is there’s gonna be a backup fighter for the next date,” Bhullar said. “So no matter what there will be a fight. Broadcasting issues will be out of the way. If someone gets hurt, no matter what the title will be defended at the next date. There are positives coming out of this.”
“Straight from Chatri, there’s a big promotion plan for this fight,” he continued. “And if what he is telling me happens, it’s gonna be next level promotion with our broadcast partners. The company wants this to happen, it’s the biggest heavyweight fight in our history, champion versus champion. He’s had great momentum, lots of history here of booking this thing. Broadcast partners wanted, they recognize it, so it’s gonna have a big fight feel for sure if everything that we’re planning happens.”