Arjan Bhullar is aiming to become the first fighter of Indian descent to win a major MMA title at ONE: ‘Dangal’. The 34 year old will be looking to end the six year reign of heavyweight champion Brandon Vera.
The event, which is being broadcast on May 15th, is aimed at the Indian market and Bhullar hopes to ‘make history’ by beating the UFC veteran,
“It’s always special when you can make history because history lasts forever. Being a world champion will be a major milestone for me and my family, but being the first from India will make it that much more special for myself and for the future wrestlers and athletes from India.”
Ready to go
Both men are UFC veterans but Vera is nine years older. He made his professional debut in 2002 and has been in with the likes of Aung La Nsang, Maurício Rua, Jon Jones, Randy Couture, Fabrício Werdum, Tim Sylvia and Frank Mir.
Bhullar is well aware of his opponent’s record and resume and does not feel that the Fil-Am veteran has any weaknesses,
“He is older, but he’s undefeated as a heavyweight champion in ONE. He’s been a champ for a very long time now, and he stopped every one of his opponents (at heavyweight) so he’s very dangerous and very experienced. He’s dangerous everywhere,” Bhullar says.
Vera last won by submission in 2006 but Bhullar still sees the champion and being a threat on the ground,
“He’s good everywhere, and he’s very experienced with his kickboxing, his Muay Thai, his kicks, his knees, and his elbows. He’s good off his back, too. He’s been in the game a long, long time, and you must be ready to go in all places.”
While his 6’3″ opponent clearly poses a physical threat Bhullar believes his strengths are more on the mental side,
“My greatest strength is my insights, which allow me to train daily, weekly and yearly. I stay disciplined all the time, not just when I have a fight booked or I have a competition coming up. I keep my eye on the prize,” he said.
That’s an attitude that will have served the Canadian fighter well during the Covid-19 era. The fight with Vera has been in the works for over a year now and he thinks this attitude is what gives him an edge over other heavyweights,
“This is my life, my priority, and my life’s work, and I take it very, very seriously. There is nothing more important to me in my life and no other priority, so my insights will separate me from (the competition).”
War of attrition
The fight is scheduled for five rounds, although in ONE Championship history no heavyweight title bout has ever lasted longer than a round. If both men find themselves in deep water Bhullar in confident that these ‘insights’ will male the difference,
“Skills are great, being faster and stronger, but when you have a war of attrition, it’s the insights that always come out, and that’s going to be the difference in this fight.”
The Sikh heavyweight is very confident heading into this contest at the Singapore Indoor Stadium. Bhullar is adamant he will become the first fighter to stop Vera since Ben Rothwell did it in 2013,
“The outcome of this fight will be a stoppage for me and with my arm raised. The stoppage will be standing up or on the ground, me pounding him out. But it will be my hands on his face and his body, and him conceding victory to my will.”