ONE Championship has been unable to book heavyweight champion Arjan Bhullar for a fight, so the promotion is introducing an interim title on Jan. 28.
The Singapore based promotion made the announcement on Monday.
“Arjan and his management team have declined multiple offers to defend the ONE Heavyweight World Championship under his current contract,” ONE CEO Chatri Sityodtong said in a statement.
“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.”
Bhullar hasn’t fought since April, when he won the belt with a TKO against Brandon Vera. It was his fourth straight win and second consecutive victory since joining ONE Championship as a free agent after previously competing with the UFC.
Since that time, ONE claims that Bhullar has turned down several fights while remaining at a standstill with the organization over his current contract. Bhullar’s management team at CAA declined comment when reached by MMA Fighting on Monday.
With Bhullar effectively sidelined, the promotion will now see Anatoly Malykhin and Kirill Grishenko at the upcoming card dubbed ONE: Only the Brave in January.
Malykhin enters the fight with a perfect 10-0 record, including two wins under the ONE banner including a first-round TKO over former Olympic wrestler Amir Aliakbari in his last outing.
As for Grishenko, he sports a 5-0 record overall with his highest profile win coming against Oumar “Reug Reug” Kane at ONE on TNT 4 back in April.
Now, Malykhin and Grishenko will face off for the ONE interim heavyweight title while Bhullar continues to negotiate for his return to action in 2022.