Marcus Almedia, Anatoly Malykhin, Arjan Bhullar
From L-R: Marcus "Buchecha" Almeida, ONE interim heavyweight champion Anatoly Malykhin, ONE lineal heavyweight champion Arjan Bhullar. Multiple Sources


  • Marcus "Buchecha" Almeida picks Anatoly Malykhin to win over Arjan Bhullar
  • Bhullar and Malykhin are booked to face each other at ONE Friday Fights 22
  • "Buchecha" feels that the bout will end by knockout

Excitement among mixed martial arts fans has reached fever-pitch as lineal champion Arjan Bhullar and interim titleholder Anatoly Malykhin are set to square off against each other in a much-awaited world title unification to determine the one true king of the heavyweight division in ONE Championship.

The five-round encounter will be the feature attraction of ONE Friday Fights 22, which takes place at the legendary Lumpinee Boxing Stadium in Bangkok, Thailand on June 23.

Among the luminaries who will be watching intently is none other than highly-decorated Brazilian jiu-jitsu practitioner and rising heavyweight contender Marcus "Buchecha" Almeida, who's ecstatic that the showdown will finally push through.

"This fight got pushed back so many times for so many different reasons. It's one of the reasons why I'm excited to see this fight. It's going to be a really good one because I know that's what Anatoly wanted to do for a long time," he told the International Business Times.

The two titans were originally scheduled to collide in February 2022, but Bhullar and his management team declined a fight with the heavy-handed Russian.

Malykhin instead fought and knocked Kirill Grishenko out in the second round to claim the interim ONE heavyweight title.

The promotion sorted out its dispute with Bhullar and booked him for a duel opposite Malykhin in September 2022, but the Indian-Canadian brute was forced off the card due to an undisclosed injury.

Malykhin would go on to add a second world title to his collection by stopping Reinier de Ridder for the ONE light heavyweight belt in December of that year.

A couple of months later, it was confirmed that the heavyweight title unification would happen this past March. But due to an alleged "shift in broadcaster commitments," it was once again postponed and moved to July 14.

In May, ONE Championship announced that the bout was rescheduled for this coming Friday.

"I hope it doesn't get pushed back anymore. I really hope it happens this week," Almeida said in jest.

While most fans and pundits are divided on who will come out on top, Almeida believes that Malykhin has a slight edge over Bhullar based solely on activity last year as the latter has not seen action since dethroning Brandon Vera as division kingpin in May 2021.

"I think Anatoly has a bigger advantage right now because he kept himself so active, fighting after fighting and just winning. The guy is still undefeated," Almeida said of Malykhin.

Both Bhullar and Malykhin possess remarkable wrestling backgrounds, which have been instrumental to their success in the past. However, Almeida foresees the two flipping the script and going toe-to-toe in the stand-up department instead.

"They have really similar games because they are good wrestlers and have really good hands. I think Anatoly hits harder, but Arjan is really technical. He has a really good jab and he controls the distance really well," he explained.

"So I don't know if they're going to shoot. In my opinion, it's going to be 100% like a brawl. No shooting because nobody wants to waste energy and somebody gets defended. I think it's going to be like a boxing match. A boxing fight," Almeida continued.

With "Buchecha" anticipating a fan-friendly dynamic at ONE Friday Fight 22, the Brazilian superstar feels that the three judges at ringside won't be needed to render a decision.

"Five rounds are too long. Probably, it's going to end up by knockout or probably via TKO," he predicted.

Marcus “Buchecha” Almeida
Marcus “Buchecha” Almeida returns to action at ONE 157. ONE Championship