At ONE: Dangal, Arjan Bhullar made history by becoming the first Indian MMA world champion in the sport’s short history. Bhullar defeated the former champion in emphatic fashion. But did the new ONE Championship heavyweight champion ever compete in the UFC?
The short answer is yes. Bhullar had a run in the UFC, albeit a relatively short one. However, ‘Singh’ also has an extraordinary number of martial arts accolades outside of MMA, which have now been crowned by his historic, title-winning bout at ONE: Bangal.
Bhullar’s title fight against Brandon Vera was one of his most dominant performances yet. He was one step ahead of Vera throughout the fight, combining wrestling and striking to keep his opponent guessing. Bhullar was able to bring a clearly fatigued Vera to the ground in the second round, and landed repeated strikes to get the TKO stoppage.
Bhullar’s UFC Run
Arjan Bhullar signed for the UFC in 2017, and made his debut at UFC 215: Nunes vs Shevchenko 2. His first opponent was Luis Henrique, who Bhullar comfortably outpointed over three rounds.
However, Bhullar’s second UFC fight led to his first ever professional loss. He came up short against Adam Wieczorek, a Polish submission specialist. Wieczorek caught Bhullar in an omoplata submission in the second round. At the time of the fight, it was only the second omoplata submission stoppage in UFC history.
Bhullar comfortably bounced back from the loss, returning to action at UFC Fight Night 138, where he fought Marcelo Golm. He picked up another decision victory and went on to face Juan Adams next. Some real momentum appeared to be building behind Bhullar, as he once again outpointed his opponent.
Green Pastures Abroad
Bhullar’s win over Adams marked the end of his four-fight UFC contract. Rather than having his sole focus centered around the UFC, Bhullar made the decision to sign for ONE Championship.
Bhullar made his debut for ONE Championship in 2019. He faced off against an experienced Mauro Cerili. Bhullar used the opportunity against such a veteran of the organization to show off his improved standup skills. The decision victory was enough to see Bhullar selected as the next title challenger to fight Brandon Vera.
A Credentialded Wrestling Career
Prior to his MMA career, Bhullar was an Olympic freestyle wrestler. He competed in the 2012 Olympics, and is also a gold medalist at the Commonwealth Games.