Bhullar dethrones Vera, becomes India's first MMA world champion

Published May 15, 2021, 8:36 PM

by Carlo Anolin

Arjan Bhullar (right) raises his fists after dethroning Brandon Vera in their ONE: Dangal heavyweight title bout to become India’s first mixed martial arts world champion. (ONE Championship)

Arjan Bhullar became India’s first mixed martial arts world champion after dethroning Brandon Vera in their ONE Championship heavyweight world title bout in ONE: Dangal at the Singapore Indoor Stadium Saturday night, May 15.

Bhullar, with a composed stance and technical fighting, upset Vera in the second round as the Indian wrestler punished the Filipino-American down the canvas with left and right crisp punches.

The 34-year-old Bhullar kept the first-round momentum in the second frame, bringing out the best of his wrestling especially at the second takedown attempt which was the most dangerous moment for Vera.

As referee Justin Brown warned Bhullar to watch the back of Vera’s head, the Indian champion looked for openings and unloaded a barrage of punches on the Filipino-American’s temple.

This prompted Brown to halt the match at the 4:27 mark of the second round and declare Bhullar the winner with a technical knockout win.

“Amazing! India! We got one now. Your first world champion, baby, let’s go!” an ecstatic Bhullar said post-match.

Arjan Bhullar (on top) punishes Brandon Vera down the canvas in their ONE: Dangal heavyweight title bout. (ONE Championship)

Bhullar said the bout all went according to plan with a mix of his boxing range and wrestling prowess while putting more pressure on Vera.

There was obviously more movement coming from Bhullar, connecting strong right hooks and back-to-back left jabs in the first round compared to Vera’s minimal leg kicks.

Vera wasn’t able to inflict critical damage to Bhullar as the Indian wrestler took the match to the ground, keeping a half-guard post from at least one minute until the final clapper of the first round.

The second round proved to be instrumental for Bhullar, especially after landing a solid right hook and an uppercut that wobbled the former heavyweight champion.

Bhullar took advantage of the situation and unleashed strong body shots on Vera before taking down the Fil-Am warrior.

It wasn’t a few seconds later before the Indian wrestler captured the second takedown en route to the second-round finisher.

Bhullar, a former Olympic wrestler and UFC fighter, improved to an 11-1 record while Vera fell to a 16-9 card.

A dismayed and apologetic Vera, for his part, admitted feeling weird and gassed out easily especially in the first round.

“Right now in this pandemic world, I’ll be going back to Florida, where it’s open, go train to Sanford, go get better, come back, and work on getting that belt back,” said the former heavyweight champion.

 
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