Arjan Bhullar Vs. Anatoly Malykhin: 4 Keys To Heavyweight World Title Victory At ONE Friday Fights 22

Arjan Bhullar meets Anatoly Malykhin in a World Title unification bout

Arjan “Singh” Bhullar and Anatoly “Sladkiy” Malykhin are once again on the cusp of the most anticipated heavyweight MMA battle in ONE Championship history.

Injuries and postponements have pushed their ONE Heavyweight World Title unification bout back multiple times, but it’s finally locked in for ONE Friday Fights 22 in Asia primetime this Friday, June 23.

ONE Heavyweight World Champion Bhullar and ONE Interim Heavyweight World Champion Malykhin are each aiming to become the undisputed divisional king, and given their heated war of wards, fans should expect a fiery encounter in Bangkok, Thailand.

Both men also have well-rounded MMA arsenals that will give them plenty of options in the ring. Here, we look at some of the biggest keys to victory in this epic clash at the iconic Lumpinee Boxing Stadium.

#1 Malykhin’s Huge Knockout Power

Malykhin and Bhullar both favor a boxing-heavy approach on the feet, but the biggest difference between them is the concussive power that “Sladkiy” has demonstrated since joining ONE.

The undefeated Russian – who is also the reigning ONE Light Heavyweight World Champion – generates a huge amount of force that visibly impacts his opponents with every connection. He’s grown increasingly reliant on that power in recent matches, scoring stand-up knockouts that weren’t common in his early MMA career.

This makes him a threat to “Singh” at all times, but he needs to make sure he is setting traps in order to catch the slick Indian-Canadian during exchanges. 

Simply charging forward is unlikely to reap rewards against such a high-level foe. If Malykhin can start to make Bhullar miss, he’ll find cleaner opportunities to strike. 

“Sladkiy” has worked hard on his head movement, and he can go outside his rival’s straight shots to land punches. For example, slipping an incoming jab will load up his overhand right, and slipping a cross will prime his left hook – both of which carry fight-ending potential. 

#2 Bhullar’s Patient Work Behind The Jab

Given his rival’s considerable power, Bhullar needs to employ a patient strategy to make sure he stays safe and gains the upper hand. 

This is already a tried-and-tested formula for the former Olympic wrestler, who has won all seven of the decisions in his MMA career. Conversely, Malykhin has never been tested beyond the second round. 

If “Singh” can utilize his sharp jab, keep moving, and stay true to his game plan in the early rounds, he’ll start to open up more opportunities to add in his more hurtful strikes.

Knowing he has the conditioning needed to keep up the pace, Bhullar’s faster straight punches are the key to intercepting hard looping shots while he waits to see how Malykhin reacts in deeper waters.

Overreaching too soon could put him in trouble, whereas staying balanced behind his jab will likely lead to more success in the long run.

#3 Malykhin Setting Traps To Find The Gaps

Bhullar’s boxing defense is solid with good parries and head movement, but there are some gaps that Malykhin could potentially exploit when the Indian-Canadian reacts to his offense. 

By throwing feints to elicit his rival’s parries, the Russian can come firing in with his leaping left hook or overhand right into the space. 

“Singh” also tends to lean back. Again, Malykhin could use his feints to force this reaction before stepping in with his overhand right. 

When Bhullar was tagged by another big puncher in Mauro Cerilli in similar situations, his wrestling instincts kicked in, and he extended his arms to grab. That would be another small window of opportunity for “Sladkiy” to keep firing and find a home for a KO punch. 

#4 Bhullar’s Elite Wrestling And Clinch

While both men started out as wrestlers, former Olympian and Commonwealth Games Gold Medalist Bhullar reached a higher level in the sport. And more importantly, he mixes it well with his boxing. 

Meanwhile, Malykhin’s recent and growing love for knockouts means he is likely more focused on keeping things standing, so “Singh” could be the aggressor in any wrestling exchanges. 

Bhullar has a lightning-fast single-leg takedown that he can latch onto behind his strikes, and being on his back would be unfamiliar territory for “Sladkiy.”

Still, given the interim champ’s wrestling background, it might be a struggle to get him all the way down, although Bhullar wouldn’t need him on the canvas to be effective. 

If the Indian-Canadian can at least shove his foe to the ropes, he could wear him down and hurt him with his effective dirty boxing game.

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