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Arjan Singh Bhullar is India’s 1st MMA World Champion

by Ashima

Bhullar beat Brandon Vera by technical knockout (TKO) in the second round.

By Ashima Sethi

Canadian-born Mixed Martial Artist (MMA) Arjan Singh Bhullar became the first fighter of Indian descent to win a world title after he beat Brandon Vera during a fight on Saturday. The win also ended Vera’s five year reign as the Heavyweight Champion in Singapore’s One Championship series.

Bhullar’s introduction to the MMA scene was notable. In 2017, Bhullar became the first South Asian fighter to compete in the UFC Octagon, facing off against Luis Henrique Barbosa de Oliviera and winning via unanimous decision. He went on to win several more fights before moving onto the coveted One Championship series.

On Saturday, Bhullar won by a technical knockout (TKO) in the second round to become India’s first MMA World Champion, taking his record to 11-1, four wins by knockout and seven by decision. The fighter tweeted after his win: “WE DID IT! If you got dreams, chase them down. Thanuwad sare a nu for support. History made.”

His other popular tweets also include:

“I have an entire nation and people worldwide who are supporting my quest. I have the skills that have proved problematic for Vera in his losses in the past. I have the strongest mindset to get this job done, which will carry me through the most extreme conditions. I am a winner. I am one billion strong (#ONEBILLIONSTRONG).”

As chronicled by Sherdog, the global authority on Mixed Martial Arts (MMA), here are some facts you might not know about the Indo-Canadian athlete.

Bhullar was born and raised in Vancouver, British Columbia but his parents are from India. They immigrated with the hope of providing a better life for their family, but Bhullar has described that it wasn’t always easy. The family faced racism upon their move, as back then it was a lot more in the open he described to One Championship. An anecdote that remains incredibly timely now as Western nations have seen a rise in Asian-targeted violence since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Before setting his sights on MMA fame, Bhullar was a professional wrestler who won two NAIA National Championships, he participated in the 2012 London Olympics, won gold at the 2010 Commonwealth Games, and a bronze medal at the 2007 Pan-American Games. It is believed that his wrestling background has formed some of the foundation of Bhullar’s MMA success.

Beyond fighting, Bhullar is known for his commitment to philanthropy. According to Sherdog, he built a community centre for women in his ancestral village of Punjab. Naming the centre after his grandmother, Bibi Gurmit Kaur Bhullar, it doubles as a mask-making facility now that India is facing its worst COVID-19 wave yet. On Instagram, he wrote about he initiative, saying:

“Here are the amazing women of Pind Billi Bhullar making coronavirus masks for the village. The idea of creating a place for women to socialize and learn to sew was brought forward by my Thia last year. Who would have thought the machines would be used to literally save lives soon after. This place is named in honor of my grandma Bibi Gurmit Kaur Bhullar. Bibi always pushed the family to keep connected and support our village. She always had a group of women by her side when back in the homeland. She would be a very proud woman today

To keep up with Arjan’s journey, follow him on Instagram.

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