ONE Championship CEO Chatri Sityodtong says a “combative and arrogant” manager has been the source of the recent contract dispute between the organization and current heavyweight champion Arjan Bhullar.
In the final days of Dec., it was announced by Sityodtong that the promotion would put an interim heavyweight title up for grabs at their Jan. 28 event. The news came as a major surprise since there had been no reports of the division’s current warden Bhullar (11-1) being unable to defend the title he won earlier in the year.
However, when announcing the news the ONE boss also shed light on why an interim title bout between Anatoly Malykhin (10-0) and Kirill Grishenko (5-0) was booked in the first place. “Arjan and his management team have declined multiple offers to defend the ONE Heavyweight World Championship under his current contract,” he said in a statement.
Following Friday’s ONE: Heavy Hitters event in Singapore, Sityodtong took part in a digital media scrum to talk about the results from the show and deliver some other ONE-related news. During the Zoom press conference, MixedMartialArts.com asked Sityodtong if he could delve deeper into the issues between the organization and their heavyweight king. And it seems that the crux of the problem lies in the negotiating style of “Singh’s” lead representative from Creative Arts Agency (CAA).
Chatri Sityodtong blames Arjan Bhullar’s management for recent contract dispute
“Arjan’s manager was not the most — how can I be very polite about this — I would say that the manager was combative and arrogant,” Sityodtong told MixedMartialArts.com. “The manager from CAA. I won’t name the name but the negotiations went up to the head of sports of CAA, Nez Balelo, who is a phenomenal guy and he and I get along very well. He very much has the same mindset as we do at ONE. We want to make sure our athletes are paid well, we want to make sure our managers are taken care of [and] we also want to make sure it’s a fair deal for ONE. And I think Nez has that lens.”
Maybe with the head of the agency’s sports department now involved, or a likely change in lead representation, the UFC veteran could return to defend his thrown sooner rather than later.
After a 3-1 run in the Octagon, the Canadian Olympian signed with ONE in 2019. He is unbeaten over two fights and won the heavyweight title in his most recent outing. Beating Brandon Vera (16-9) and ending his nearly five-year run as champion.
CAA reps have also been the source of failed negotiations on a new contract for current UFC heavyweight king Francis Ngannou. “The Predator” only has one fight left on his deal as he heads into his first title defense next week at UFC 270. UFC boss Dana White also laid the blame for the situation at the feet of Ngannou’s CAA manager Marquel Martin.
Is CAA MMA developing a bad reputation when it comes to contracts, or are they probably doing what’s best for their clients?