Arjan Bullar is back in training. It has been 18 months since he won the heavyweight title and numerous fighters have called out the champion while several matchups have fallen through.

Bhullar has been booked to face interim champion Anatoly Malykhin on multiple occasions but those fights have always fallen through. The Canadian was also involved in a contractual dispute which was eventually resolved.

There is no chance of Bhullar fighting this year but it sounds like he hopes to defend his title for the first time in 2023:

Uncertain time

Bhullar will be well aware that Malykhin is dropping down to light heavyweight to challenge Reinier de Ridder for his belt. He will also be aware that both these men have repeatedly called him out, and not always in the most respectful fashion.

Malykhin has called Bhullar a chicken on multiple occasions. This doesn’t appear to have gone down to well with the Canadian who admits it has been a very uncertain time,

“Three months ago I never knew what the future was going to look like. Went into my first surgery and started rehab. Many people opened their mouths while I was away. I worked in silence with those that have always been by my side. Surgeon and therapists are blown away by the speed of recovery. Today the doctors cleared me to return to full training. I’m not going to be defending anything. I’m coming on the attack to get more and remind people there’s only one (lion).”


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Calling out 

The war of words between Malykhin and Bhullar has been raging on since the start of the year. The Russian ended up fighting for the interim title while the champion’s contractual issues were being resolved.

Bhullar subsequently signed a new deal and the fight was booked for ONE 161. But the Canadian subsequently ended up needing surgery on an arm injury and it was postponed.

He will be an interested spectator when Malykhin faces de Ridder at ONE on Prime Video 5 next month. After the Dutchman asked for a shot at Bhullar’s heavyweight title he fired back,

“If anything I’ll go down and take his belt.”

Bhullar weighed 106kgs ahead of his last ONE Championship fight so would only need to lose 4kgs in order to challenge for the light heavyweight belt, although he would not be allowed to dehydrate himself beyond a certain limit in order to do it. It has been a frustrating few month for the heavyweight champion but he looks set to be back in business in 2023.