MMA: Arjan Singh Bhullar v Anatoly Malykhin for ONE Heavyweight title is a clash of eternally contrasting styles

ARJAN SINGH BHULLAR IS defending his undisputed world title tomorrow in what is slated to be the toughest fight of his life.

The ONE Heavyweight champion is facing an undefeated challenger in Anatoly Malykhin (12-0) who is the interim ONE Heavyweight champion and the undisputed ONE Light Heavyweight champion at the same time.

The pair were supposed to meet last year, but after several delays, they will finally face off at ONE Friday Fight 22 which takes place tomorrow. For Indian fans, the event can be seen live on Star Sports and Disney+ Hotstar.

Arjan (11-1) is coming off a 2 year layoff where an assortment of reasons including contract negotiations, injuries, COVID-19 travel restrictions as well as broadcaster scheduling conflict have kept him away from the cage. And now, on his very first fight back, he is facing a dangerous opponent who has finished every single opponent he has faced so far; with 8 knockouts and 4 submissions to his name.

Add to that, Anatoly had insulted Arjan after a previous fight, calling him "chicken" and holding him responsible for the fight being delayed.

Speaking exclusively to TFG, Arjan Singh Bhullar had acknowledged that his latest opponent was dangerous, but not in a way that couldn't be handled,

"Yes, Anatoly has power. Every heavyweight does, though. That's just the reality of it. Anyone over 200 pounds can hurt you if you allow them to. So yes he has power. He's stopped a lot of guys, he is undefeated and all of that. That's what makes him very dangerous, that's what makes me very motivated in training. That's what makes this fight very meaningful for me; is that element of danger... is that success that he's had. I want to put a stop to it and put my stamp on the division... I do feel the deeper it goes it will favour me... we're going to see what he's made of and he's going to see what I'm made of. That's what's going to be exciting."

Arjan had previously faced a knockout artist in Mauro Cerilli in his first fight at ONE Championship. Arjan dealt with his power by methodically dismantling his offence and wearing him down over three rounds.

Following this, he faced another decorated striker in former ONE double champ Brandon Vera, whom he wore down in the first round and finished via TKO in the second round.

There's little doubt that Arjan's wrestling background makes him hard to deal with for those who rely on power. He has never been knocked out and his only loss is through an omoplata submission that may have been caused by an accidental injury during the fight. And every time the bout has gone the distance, Arjan has had his hand raised.

So, for Anatoly the mission is clear: get an early finish. However, Arjan's superior takedown defence and a solid on-the-feet protective game makes him good at surviving opponents' offensive blitzes.

The dilemma, for Anatoly, is that if Arjan is manages to survive his early onslaught he will become extremely hard to deal with. He has demonstrated superior stamina and is better at takedowns; which means in the second and third round he can dictate where the fight takes place and at what pace.

This wide contrast in the two fighters' style makes this bout intriguing for MMA fans. And apart from being one of the biggest fights in Indian MMA history, it also feeds into the eternal rivalry of striking and wrestling, power and stamina that make MMA the sport it is.

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