Arjan Bhullar becomes first MMA world champion of Indian origin, Phogat loses
Arjan Bhullar dethroned longtime champion Brandon Vera to win the ONE Heavyweight World Title and become the first Indian-born MMA World Champion in history on Saturday.
However, Ritu Phogat suffered her first loss since switching from wrestling to mixed martial arts (MMA). After three close innings at the One Championship, Phogat lost by split decision to Bi Nguyen of the United States.
In the main event of the day, the Canadian Bhullar was initially cautious against Vera, reigning world champion since 2016, in the first round. He sought to chain combinations to set up a withdrawal. The Indian star suffocated Vera with feints and strikes, freezing the Filipino-American on his feet and making him hesitate to commit. Bhullar led Vera towards the end of the opening frame and controlled her on the mat.
In the second round, Bhullar capitalized on his feints by catching Vera with an overhand right that knocked her over to the circle wall. A few more right hands compounded the damage, and a debilitating body shot left Vera gasping for air. Once Bhullar was able to close the distance and cling to the reigning world champion with a padlock, it signaled the beginning of the end. Bhullar brought Vera to the mat and beat her for the technical knockout victory.
Bhullar is a former Commonwealth Games gold medalist (during the 2010 edition in New Delhi). At the 2012 London Olympics, he became the first Indian-born freestyle wrestler to represent Canada. Prior to competing in the ONE Championship, Bhullar also competed in the UFC.
“I wanted to put pressure on him until he broke. Box him, put pressure on him, fight him. That’s exactly what I did, ”Bhullar said after the fight. “I knew I was going to hurt him. I entered the lightest fight I have weighed. I was ready to do 5 rounds.
After losing the crown, Vera said: “This is the first time in my entire career that I have felt gassed in the first round. I’m in good shape, we’ve trained, we’ve worked with the best people in the world. This is new to me.
Official results for ONE: DANGAL
Mixed Martial Arts – Heavyweight: Arjan Bhullar defeats Brandon Vera by Technical KO (TKO) at 4:27 of Round 2
Mixed martial arts – Atomic weight: Bi Nguyen defeats Ritu Phogat by split decision