Instead, the Russian star believes the winner of this mixed martial arts clash on Friday, 11 February, will become the undisputed king of the division.
“I don’t consider this belt interim. I will be the real champion,” Malykhin says ahead of this co-main event matchup at the Singapore Indoor Stadium.
“If the champion refuses to fight, then he is no longer the champion.”
The 34-year-old is referring to ONE Heavyweight World Champion Arjan “Singh” Bhullar, who could not agree on a contract to defend his crown.
For months, “Sladkiy” had been training to challenge the Canadian-Indian titleholder, and he believes Bhullar is running scared.
“I was already at my peak. I was ready to destroy him for the ONE Championship belt,” Malykhin says.
“I think that somewhere, mentally, this fear of being destroyed was passed to him. And at some point, he just broke. He doesn’t want to fight.
“He is not a fighter. He is a professional, he has a decent record, but he is not a fighter. He is not ready to fight the best. And currently, I’m the best. He is just a chicken. This is all I can say about him.”
As a result, Malykhin will take on fellow undefeated heavyweight Grishenko for the interim belt in “The Lion City.”
And while he has no animosity toward his new opponent, the Golden Team representative does not expect to be seriously threatened inside the Circle.
“I see that Kirill is a good guy, a good fighter, but I’m at an absolutely different level in terms of skills and attitude,” he says.
“I think Kirill has no chance, with all my respect to him.”
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Despite his confidence, “Sladkiy” has spent time preparing for the Belarusian’s skill set.
And while he sees some interesting qualities in the 30-year-old, he does not believe Grishenko owns the firepower to earn the gold.
“As a fighter, he is non-standard with unusual strikes – backfist, spinning elbow. He has a good physique since he is a classic wrestler. But I don’t see anything special he could stop me with,” Malykhin says.
“I see holes in his technique. My coach sees them. It’s not about underestimating Kirill. He is a good fighter. But, I will repeat, he is not the best. I’m the champion here. And I will be the ONE Championship champion for a very long time.”
Though both men come from wrestling backgrounds, they have shown powerful striking in their time on the global stage, and Grishenko has stated his desire to finish Malykhin on the feet.
“Sladkiy” also envisions a highlight-reel KO, but he has no doubt that it will come from his own side of the Circle.
“He has no knockouts and his strikes are weak. He lacks speed and timing in his striking,” he says of Grishenko.
“I think he said he could knock me out just out of fear. When he regains consciousness after my knockout, he will realize that his plan to knock me out was just a dream.”
After so much uncertainly leading up to this return, “Sladkiy” is ready to impress with the biggest prize of his career at stake.
He’s become a dangerous knockout artist – including his most recent finish of Amir Aliakbari – and that’s how he intends to prove that he is ONE’s greatest heavyweight – whether Bhullar returns or not.
“Kirill will be knocked out. That’s it. First or second round at the most,” Malykhin adds.
“When I’m in the Circle, I will show what I’m capable of. I will stage an eye-catching fight, I’m sure of that. Many will enjoy it. In the end, I will become a champion and rule the division for a long, long time.
“Let’s forget about Arjan – he’s already in the trash bin of history. Soon, we will have a new champion.”