For anyone wondering why ONE Championship had decided to introduce an interim heavyweight title Chatri Sityodtong has the answer. He says that reigning heavyweight champion Arjan Bhullar has declined numerous fight offers.
According to Chatri this is why an interim belt was introduced,
“Arjan and his management team have declined multiple offers to defend the ONE heavyweight world championship under his current contract. 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.”
The fight ONE Championship wanted to make was between Bhullar and Malykhin. The Russian is undefeated and has a perfect professional record, having won ten fights out of ten.
He has been extremely outspoken on social media about wanting to fight Bhullar, accusing the Canadian of being a chicken in a light hearted Instagram video. Malykhin was clearly very keen to face the UFC veteran and had apparently already signed a fight contract.
According to the SCMP the champion is represented by CAA Combat Sports who have a reputation for being difficult to negotiate with. Bhullar is only two fights into his ONE Championship deal and it seems his management have tried, and failed, to negotiate a new one.
Heavyweights tend to last longer than lighter fighters, just look at Brandon Vera who held the ONE Championship heavyweight title at the age of 43. But being forced to sit on the sidelines during his athletic prime must be frustrating for Bhullar.
The 35 year old has hinted that he might move into the world of professional wrestling. But it doesn’t look like he will be competing in MMA any time soon with an interim heavyweight champion set to be crowned in his absence.