Indian MMA Gets Boost After Arjan Bhullar Wins ONE Championship Heavyweight Title

By Dhanu Delphi on May 16, 2021

Arjan “Singh” Bhullar who is of Indian origin and fights out of British Columbia, Canada has become the first Indian mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter to win a championship belt with a major promotion. Bhullar ended up winning the ONE Championship Heavyweight title over the weekend when he defeated Brandon ‘The Truth’ Vera by TKO in the second round.

The global MMA scene is dominated by three main fight promotions. The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is by far the biggest and most popular MMA organization in the world and is responsible for making the sport of MMA popular in India.

The second biggest promotion is Bellator but is still well behind the UFC. The third most prominent MMA promotion is ONE Championship which is predominantly an Asian based MMA organization that has welcomed a number of former UFC and Bellator fighters in recent years.

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ONE Championship Heavyweight Title

Bhullar made a name for himself and gained the attention of Indian fans when he fought in the UFC. Bhullar fought four times in the UFC in the heavyweight division between 2017 and 2019 and ended up winning 3 out of his four fights. However, Bhullar was cut from the UFC and no reason was given to the fans as Bhullar made a quiet exit.

Unconfirmed reports suggest that Bhullar was let go because his fight style was not very entertaining in the UFC. The Indian MMA star relies heavily on his wrestling and likes to take his opponents down and dominate them on the ground. When Bhullar left the UFC, he was welcomed into ONE Championship in 2019 and it did not take him long to establish himself.

Bhullar had just one fight in 2019 in the ONE Championship heavyweight division which he won by unanimous decision against Mauro Cerilli. He did not fight in 2020 due to the pandemic but kept training. His next fight was for the ONE Championship heavyweight belt against former UFC fighter Brandon Vera.

The fight only last two rounds as Bhullar finished Veran in the final minute of the second round by TKO. Bhullar was very pleased with become the ONE heavyweight champion and paid tribute to his Indian roots by using the hashtag #OneBillionStrong.

Indian MMA Community Gets Boost

The Indian MMA community is growing at a rapid pace and Bhullar’s win will only boost the MMA market in the country. India currently has only one fighter in the UFC and that is Bharat Khandare who lost his UFC debut and has not fought since then. Khandare fought in the UFC back in 2017 and was suspended for two years thereafter for taking steroids.

After Khandare’s loss, Bhullar was one of the MMA fighters who reached out to him on social media and advised him to join a good MMA camp to prepare for his next fight. Bhullar has spent a lot of time in the past training at AKA which is the same gym that former UFC heavyweight champ Daniel Cormier trained.UFC Fight Night

India’s MMA community also received a pleasant surprise last week when Conor McGregor tweeted a picture of an Indian MMA fighter Ramston Rodrigues and wrote “Training with India’s next heavyweight champion”. McGregor is currently in the middle-east preparing for his trilogy fight with Dustin Poirier.

The plus from McGregor has given Ramston Rodrigues overnight limelight in the Indian MMA community. Rodrigues also posted on social media and said he had the honour of doing a few rounds with McGregor.

The current buzz surrounding Indian MMA fighters will motivate upcoming fighters to aim for the starts and put Indian MMA on the map.

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