A heavyweight unification bout will be on the ONE 161 card. At least, according to the regular champion Arjan Bhullar who posted on Instagram that he would be facing interim champion Anatoly Malykhin live on Amazon Prime.
The fight has been in the works for over a year now with both men accusing each other of trying to hide. But according to Bhullar the contracts have finally been signed:
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Bhullar (11-1) is the regular champion. He won the belt by stopping Brandon Vera last year but has not fought in 14 months after becoming involved in a contractual dispute which was ultimately resolved.
With Bhullar sidelined due to those contract negotiations the promotion introduced an interim belt. Malykhin won it by stopping Kirill Grishenko in the second round and the two men have been going back and forth on social media for over a year now.
The fight finally has a date, at least according to Bhullar. ONE 161 is set for August 22nd and will take place on Saturday morning in Singapore in order to be broadcast live in a primetime slot in North America.
🚨 BIG NEWS 🚨 ONE Championship is coming BACK to U.S. prime time on Amazon Prime Video 🇺🇸
Stay tuned for more details!@PrimeVideo | #WeAreONE #ONEChampionship pic.twitter.com/t6diSS1rHG
— ONE Championship (@ONEChampionship) April 27, 2022
As previously announced the event will be headlined by a flyweight title rematch between Adriano Moraes and Demetrious Johnson. Last year Moraes stunned the world by knocking out Johnson.
Moraes (20-3) is currently in his second stint as champion and has held the title since 2019 although he has only defended it twice. While he has always been highly regarded in Asia the win over Johnson really put him on the global MMA map.
Demetrious Johnson 🆚 Adriano Moraes ended with a SHOCKING KNOCKOUT! @adrianomkmoraes #WeAreONE #ONEChampionship pic.twitter.com/TIY3CUqeLR
— ONE Championship (@ONEChampionship) November 23, 2021
Johnson (23-4-1) is widely regarded as being the greatest flyweight of all time. He successfully defended the UFC flyweight title 11 times and had been widely expected to win the ONE Championship belt at the first attempt.
So the loss to Moraes was a stunning upset. Johnson has not competed in MMA since although he did face Rodtang Jitmuangnon in a mixed rules bout at ONE: ‘X’ earlier this year.
Moraes has successfully defended his title since. He submitted Yuya Wakamatsu with a third round guillotine choke at ONE: ‘X’ making this the biggest flyweight fight of the year.
ONE 161, Singapore, August 27th
Adriano Moraes (c) vs. Demetrious Johnson (For flyweight title)
Arjan Bhullar (c) vs. Anatoly Malykhin (For heavyweight title)
Rodtang Jitmuangnon vs. Savvas Michael (Flyweight Grand Prix semi final)