Singapore, May 6: Indian wrestling champion and rising heavyweight star Arjan “Singh” Bhullar gets the chance to make history in his next bout. If he can defeat reigning ONE Heavyweight World Champion Brandon “The Truth” Vera, he becomes the first mixed martial arts world champion from India.
Bhullar challenges Vera for the belt in the headline bout at ONE: DANGAL, a tape delayed event from the Singapore Indoor Stadium in Singapore that airs on Saturday, 15 May.
“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 (mixed martial arts world champion) in India is very, very important. 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,” Bhullar said.
However, defeating Vera is certainly no easy task.
The four fighters the Filipino-American has faced in the ONE heavyweight division have all come up short. Vera is currently unbeaten in this weight class, and has a firm stranglehold on the heavyweight world title.
Bhullar though, feels confident he will be the one to dethrone “The Truth” and come away with ONE Championship gold around his waist.
The 2012 Olympian and Commonwealth Games 2010 gold medallist, who traces his roots to Billi Bhullar village in the Jalandhar district of the North Indian state of Punjab, believes he’s coming into this title bout with a fight-winning game plan.
“He’s going to try to keep me at range. He’s going to use his kicks. He’s going to switch stances. He’s going to be on his back foot. He might come forward a little bit, but that’s what he prefers. He is going to try to stay off the cage,” Bhullar said.
“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. 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.”
ONE: DANGAL features a host of Indian martial arts stars, and aims to showcase the very best that India has to offer. Other Indian athletes scheduled for action include atomweight phenom Ritu “The Indian Tigress” Phogat, Gurdarshan “Saint Lion” Mangat, and Roshan Mainam.
Phogat is also slated to compete on another card in May, as a participant in the ONE Women’s Atomweight World Grand Prix at ONE: EMPOWER. Bhullar has nothing but high praise for Phogat, and feels they both have the chance to reign supreme when all is said and done.
“I’m ready to be the king of Indian MMA and Ritu Phogtat will be the queen of Indian MMA,” Bhullar said.
“She has an amazing amount of talent. She has been competing at a high level her entire life and her family consists of very accomplished international athletes. And you can’t teach that. She has been doing that her entire life. So, she knows how to win, she knows how to lose, she knows how to deal with adversities, she knows how to be a professional, act like one, train like one and she takes it seriously.”
Bhullar is confident Phogat will continue winning and even emerge the tournament champion.
“More than anything, her story really resonates with the country, with females and all martial artists,” Bhullar concluded.
“When she runs through this Grand Prix, she is going to do amazing things for the sport and for India. And the other part of all this, being a wrestler, she is used to tournaments. She knows how to work through a bracket, focus on one fighter at a time and how to win through that. That’s something none of those girls in the bracket have. So I’m excited for her to work through this tournament and become the queen of Indian MMA.”