Arjan Bhullar: MMA’s first Indian-origin World Champion


September 11 2023
Arjan Bhullar

Arjan Singh Bhullar, born on May 13, 1986, is a remarkable Indo-Canadian mixed martial artist who has made a significant impact on the global MMA stage. With a dynamic career spanning wrestling and MMA, Bhullar has become a true icon in both sports, leaving an indelible mark as a fighter and a champion.

Arjan Bhullar’s journey into the world of combat sports started with wrestling. Born and raised in Vancouver, British Columbia, he honed his skills on the wrestling mat from a young age. His dedication and determination led him to the Simon Fraser Clan at Simon Fraser University, where he made his mark as a collegiate wrestler. Competing at 285 pounds, he secured an impressive record, earning him accolades such as becoming the NAIA champion in 2008 and 2009.

Freestyle Wrestling

Arjan Bhullar’s wrestling prowess extended to the international stage. As a member of the Canadian National Team, he showcased his talent in freestyle wrestling competitions around the world. He represented Canada at the World Championships, the Pan American Games, and the Commonwealth Games, achieving notable victories and earning respect as a formidable competitor.

Transition to MMA

In 2014, Arjan Bhullar embarked on a new journey as a mixed martial artist. Starting as an amateur, he transitioned to the professional arena, showcasing his skills and determination in the MMA cage. His early career was marked by victories and titles, showcasing his adaptability as he conquered the heavyweight division.

A Historic UFC Debut

In 2017, Arjan Bhullar achieved a milestone as the first fighter of Indo-Canadian descent to sign with the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). Making his promotional debut at UFC 215, he demonstrated his skill set by securing a victory against Luis Henrique via unanimous decision. Bhullar’s UFC journey saw him face challenging opponents and experience the highs and lows of MMA competition.

Also Read: Anshul Jubli: New Indian MMA sensation in UFC

ONE Championship

On July 3, 2019, it was revealed that Arjan Bhullar has signed a contract with the Asian mixed martial arts organization ONE Championship. He was scheduled to make his promotional debut on August 2 at ONE Championship: Dawn of Heroes versus Mauro Cerilli.But the fight was called off after Cerilli withdrew due to a staph infection. On October 13, 2019, ONE Championship: Century hosted the bout, which Bhullar ultimately won by unanimous decision.

Arjan Bhullar’s legacy extended to the global stage of ONE Championship, where he proved his mettle as a force to be reckoned with. In a historic bout, he captured the ONE Heavyweight World Championship by defeating Brandon Vera. This victory marked a monumental achievement, making him the first fighter of Canadian/Indian descent to secure an MMA world title.

Arjan Bhullar was supposed to fight interim champion Anatoly Malykhin for the ONE Heavyweight World Championship unification fight at ONE 161 on September 29, 2022, however, this was postponed due to a contract dispute. Bhullar withdrew, however, citing a training-related injury. The bout was called off after it was revealed that Bhullar had undergone arm surgery two weeks before. The fight was moved to ONE Fight Night 8 on March 25, 2023.

As a result, the match was pulled from the event owing to a change in broadcaster commitments, and it will be rescheduled for a later date. The fight was set to take place on July 15, 2023, at ONE Fight Night 12. The fight, however, was moved to ONE Friday Fights 22 on June 22 for unclear reasons. Bhullar was knocked out in the third round and therefore lost the fight and the title.

Arjan Bhullar’s MMA Record

Arjan Bhullar has 11 wins and 2 losses in his professional MMA career.

LossAnatoly MalykhinTKO (punches)3June 23, 2023ONE Friday Fights 22
WinBrandon VeraTKO (punches)2April 28, 2021ONE: Dangal
WinMauro CerilliDecision (unanimous)3October 13, 2019ONE: Century Part 2
WinJuan AdamsDecision (unanimous)3May 4, 2019UFC Fight Night: Iaquinta vs. Cowboy
WinMarcelo GolmDecision (unanimous)3October 27, 2018UFC Fight Night: Volkan vs. Smith
LossAdam WieczorekSubmission (omoplata)2April 14, 2018UFC on Fox: Poirier vs. Gaethje
WinLuis HenriqueDecision (unanimous)3September 9, 2017UFC 215
WinJoe YagerDecision (unanimous)3April 29, 2017Battlefield Fight League 48
WinChris CatalaTKO (punches)1October 14, 2016Hard Knocks 51
WinRyan PokryfkyDecision (unanimous)5September 17, 2016Battlefield Fight League 45
WinBlake NashTKO (doctor stoppage)2October 17, 2015Battlefield Fight League 39
WinJon-Taine HallDecision (unanimous)3June 28, 2015Hard Knocks 44
WinAdam SantosTKO (punches)3November 7, 2014Battlefield Fight League 33

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