Before Arjan Bhullar became an MMA star with the UFC and ONE Championship he was a wrestler. The Canadian faced numerous Russian opponents during this stage of his career.

He wrestled at the 2012 Olympics in London. The gold medalist and silver medalist in his weight class were both stripped of their medals after testing positive for performance enhancing drugs.

The two wrestlers who were promoted to being joint gold medalists would also subsequently fail drug tests during their careers. Bhullar finished 13th but is entitled to wonder just how close to the podium he would have come if cheating hadn’t been so widespread.

Arjan Bhullar punches Brandon Vera 2

Dirty Russians

But the Canadian will have a chance for revenge. His next ONE Championship heavyweight title defence is against a Russian who failed a drug test and was handed a lengthy ban during his wrestling career.

For Bhullar this makes the fight with Anatoly Malykhin very personal and he explained exactly why in an interview with SCMP,

“He’s coming through the Russian system. That entire country is dirty, they were banned from the Olympics for a reason. I’m coming for all the dirty Russians that I couldn’t punch in the face over the years. These Russians are all dirty.”

Arjan Bhullar jab

Complex negotiations

Malykhin is frustrated that Bhullar has not agreed to fight him yet. But the champion says that negotiations are complicated,

“We are going though heavy negotiations. There was also pro wrestling talks but I’m under contract with them (ONE Championship) so we’ve got multiple things we are trying to juggle. ONE has shown that they put fighters first so I do believe the team will be able to find some middle ground and thins are progressing.”

Malykhin accused him of being a ‘chicken’ and Bhullar found this quite entertaining,

“I love how I’m on his mind and I’m on his social media, I love it, but I’m the king and I decide the rules of engagement. When I decided I want to step in I will take his head.”

Arjan Bhullar punches Brandon Vera

Worthy opponent

While Bhullar accuses Malykhin of being ‘dirty’ due to the failed drug test he does respect what the Russian has achieved as a mixed martial artist,

“He has proven he should be the next guy, he’s undefeated. You cannot deny his body of work.”

He is also happy to see his upcoming opponent calling him out on social media,

“I’m on his mind, that’s the way it should be.”

Arjan Bhullar

The king

But Bhullar says that he is the champion and the fight will only happen on his terms,

“He doesn’t decide when, he doesn’t decide where. I decide those things. I’m the king.”

The fight is most likely to take place in Singapore.  But when it does eventually happen Bhullar believes there will only be one winner,

“He has never faced someone like me. I think I’m more well rounded.”