It’s been a long time coming but MMA fans in India finally have their very own world champion! Arjan Singh Bhullar, an Indian-origin fighter, recently made history by taking away the title from Brandon Vera at the ONE Championship: Dangal in Singapore last April.
Bhullar won the fight with a powerful technical knockout in the second round and ended Vera’s reign as the heavyweight champion at One Championship which had lasted for five and a half years.
History made indeed
When Bhullar entered the fight, the odds were stacked against him. Top-rated bookmakers in India like Royal Panda were expecting the world champion to defend the crown and a loss for the Indian-origin fighter.
Yet, following a careful strategy, Bhullar would overcome Vera’s threat and then proceed to completely dominate in the second round leading to the technical knockout that won him the fight and brought pride and joy to millions of Indian fans.
In the post-match interview, Brandon Vera wasn’t shy of admitting the fact that he felt “totally gassed” in the first round itself even though he had been training with the best.
Proud of his origins
While he was born and raised in Canada, Bhullar has never let go of his origins. After winning the match, the world champion thanked his fans on Twitter in Punjabi, his native language.
Bhullar is also often seen carrying a mace while going to fights or during photoshoots. Not only does it make him look just that bit more menacing, but it is also a symbol rooted in Indian culture, associated with Lord Hanuman, a central figure in Indian mythology.
The mace was given to him by the late Dara Singh, a legendary figure in Indian wrestling.
Ready to face all ‘tough guys’
Running off the high of being the world champion, Bhullar has stated that he “can pick a fight with anyone and win.” With only one defeat in his record, the fighter aims to win more gold medals in pro wrestling as his immediate next goal.
Putting forward a message of positivity, he stated that what helped him with his mental health during the pandemic was the desire to “keep fighting” and said it was important to know yourself, what makes you happy, and controlling what you can.
Upset for Ritu Phogat
For Ritu Phogat, another Indian fighter, things didn’t go so well as she was defeated by Bo Meng in a fight for the ONE Atomweight title. Considered a favorite going into the bout, the fighter was unable to win.
The loss was partly due to the way ONE rules work, and it was likely that Phogat would have won the fight under rules used in other tournaments. However, she was graceful in defeat by accepting the decision and vowing to “push even more” the next chance she gets.