One Championship heavyweight champion Arjan Bhullar wants to dominate pro wrestling and MMA

Newly crowned One Championship world heavyweight champion Arjan Bhullar is aiming to make a name in pro wrestling but also has plans to defend his MMA title and add more belts.

One Championship heavyweight champion Arjan Bhullar wants to dominate pro wrestling and MMA

After conquering wrestling and MM, Arjan Bhullar now wants to make a name for himself in professional wrestling. Image: One Championship

For Indian fans of mixed martial arts (MMA), their dream of seeing a local world champion somewhat got fulfilled on 15 May when Arjan Bhullar defeated One heavyweight champion, Brandon Vera, at ONE: Dangal to clinch the belt.

A resident of British Columbia, Canada, Bhullar's family originally hails from Punjab. And with the knock out win over Vera, the 35-year-old became the first Indian-origin fighter to win a world title at a prestigious MMA promotion.

Bhullar, a wrestler-turned-MMA athlete, first took to the dangal following the footsteps of his father who was an amateur wrestler and competed at various levels. Inspired by his father, Bhullar set out to make a name for himself in the world of wrestling.

He won a bronze medal at the 2007 Pan American Games in the freestyle 120kg category, and a gold medal at the 2010 Commonwealth Games. He would also become the first Punjabi descent Canadian to qualify for Olympics in 2012.

A proud Canadian, Bhullar hasn't forgotten his roots and is proud of his connection with India. He carries a mace, which he won at a traditional wrestling event, with himself to his MMA fights. And hoisted it in the ring after beating Vera for the world title.

"Amazing (on winning world title). I am born and raised here (Richmond, BC). I have represented this city my entire life and I always will. But I have also represented my culture and my roots. I continue to do that now and it has been a very lovely reception," Bhullar told Firstpost.

Bhullar took up professional MMA fighting in 2014 and now that his dream of becoming the world champion has become a reality, he now wants to move to professional wrestling.

“I have reached the pinnacle of this sport. Now, I wanna attack the pro wrestling industry. AEW, WWE, I’m coming for you guys next. Consider this a warning,” he had declared after beating Vera.

The work is already underway on that front with Bhullar and the company being in talks with pro wrestling organisations. He is currently contracted to One Championship and is also looking forward to having conversations with chairman Chatri Sityodtong regarding his pro wrestling plans.

"We are involved with the highest level in the sport, both WWE and AEW. They are both interested, we are interested. It's about getting a deal done. Obviously having a conversation with One (Championship) as well and Chatri and everyone being happy," said Bhullar.

"Look Chatri and company are great and they will see the benefit in me being able to do both. So, it's about sitting down with them and having some conversations."

However, it's not going to be a complete switch from MMA to pro wrestling and fans could soon also see Bhullar defend his heavyweight title.

"I am going to do both. We are engaged with the pro wrestling world and we are going to do both. I am going to pro wrestling first because we just fought and then would defend (my title) and will keep doing both," said Bhullar.

And if that happens, the bout could be against South Korea's Kang Ji Won, a 25-year-old fighter whom Bhullar challenged from the ring after beating Vera. Ji Won currently boasts a 5-0 record and defeated former Greco-Roman world champion Amir Aliakbari at ONE: Fists of Fury Part II. Bhullar, who also fought in UFC and has a 11-1 record against his name, knows it would not be an easy challenge.

"He (Ji Won) moves well, he is undefeated. He moves well on his feet, he moves like a lighter weight guy and he punched out a world champion from wrestling. So he is very very dangerous, he is self-taught. I have to be ready for all of those things," he said.

There is also news that the Indo-Canadian fighter may move down to the light heavyweight category to fulfill his desire of holding two belts at the same time. It's a challenge most fail at but Bhullar is confident he could overcome it when the right time comes.

"I am always looking for new challenges, and to make history and grow. There has been no heavyweight who has gone down and won the light heavyweight title. Vera tried and failed and where he fails, I believe I will be successful," he said.

Bhullar also has some words of advice for India's Ritu Phogat who at ONE: Dangal lost her first MMA bout, against Bi Nguyen.

"First of all, I thought she won the fight. I thought she did enough to win the fight," he said. "So feel bad for her, but aside from that, she is getting more efficient. There's a way to transfer your wrestling over into the sport where you are efficient and you can go all night and that's where she needs to clean up with her efficiency and just getting comfortable with that."

For Ritu to improve her striking, Bhullar's tip is: "More reps (repetitions), get relaxed. Just don't panic and wrestle and close the gap better."

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