Bhullar seeks to become first Indian MMA champion, vows to dethrone Vera

Published May 10, 2021, 5:34 PM

by Carlo Anolin

Arjan Bhullar (left) and Brandon Vera (Photos from ONE Championship)

ONE Championship heavyweight contender Arjan Bhullar is eyeing no less than being India’s first mixed martial arts champion once he clashes with reigning king Brandon Vera in the Circle.

Bhullar and Vera are set to lock horns for the heavyweight title bout in ONE: Dangal at the Singapore Indoor Stadium this Saturday, May 15.

“Being a world champion is the most important to me and the fact that I have the ability to make history and be the first [MMA champion] in India is very, very important,” said Bhullar, a Canadian of Indian descent, who holds a 10-1 record.

“One, for myself and my legacy, and two, for the next generation to wake up and other wrestlers and martial artists from India to understand that this is possible for them.”

The road, however, won’t be easy for the former UFC fighter as Vera has been the ONE heavyweight champion since 2015, defeating the likes of Paul Cheng, Hideki Sekine, and Mauro Cerilli in the process.

For Bhullar, a former Olympic wrestler, there is no other way to prove himself but dethrone Vera.

READ: Bhullar a dangerous opponent, says Vera

Bhullar last saw action in ONE: Century II with a unanimous decision win against Cerilli last October 2019 for his promotional debut.

After one bout only, ONE Championship gave the Indian warrior a golden opportunity for a crack at the heavyweight belt.

“I’m going to come forward. I’m going to cut him off. I’m going to keep it inside of the kicking range. I’m going to hit him in the face early and often and he’s going to either stand there and get hit or he’s going to back up into the cage,” added the 34-year-old Bhullar. “I’m going to mix in takedowns within that and we are going to do that all night for 25 minutes. We’ll see how long he lasts.”

Vera, for his part, suffered defeat at the hands of former two-division world champion Aung La N Sang in the same event and fell to a 16-8 record. 

READ: Vera on balancing MMA career and parenthood: Teamwork makes the dream work