Arjan Bhullar became the second heavyweight champion in ONE Championship history with a second-round stoppage win over Brandon Vera. The title win for Bhullar headlined “Dangal,” a pre-recorded card from the Singapore Indoor Stadium in Singapore that aired for the first time on Saturday.
Bhullar first hurt Vera early in the second round with a right hand. He continued to press Vera with strikes later in the round, eventually taking the fight to the ground with punches.
The referee opted to end the fight after Bhullar landed a series of unanswered punches while on the back of Vera.
The win made Bhullar the first champion in ONE to represent the country of India. The 35-year-old took pride in the title following his win.
“India! We got one now. Your first world champion, baby. Let’s go,” said Bhullar afterward.
Bhullar said the next opponent he wants is undefeated heavyweight Kang Ji Won. Kang had a strong entrance into ONE earlier this year, defeating Mehdi Barghi and Amir Aliakbari both within a round.
Bhullar also made his bid to enter the pro wrestling world, calling out two promotions.
“AEW, WWE, I’m coming for you guys next,” said Bhullar.
Vera was visibly fatigued from the start of the fight, with his condition only worsening later on.
“This is the first time in my entire career that I actually felt gassed in the first round. It’s weird,” said Vera in his post-fight interview.
Vera was ONE Championship’s inaugural heavyweight champ, claiming the belt in 2015 with a win over Paul Cheng. He defended the title twice in the following years, stopping Hideki Sekine and Mauro Cerilli.
The 43-year-old had taken a loss in his prior fight, losing to 225-pound champ Aung La N Sang in 2019.
Bhullar, a former UFC fighter, was given the title fight after winning his ONE debut against Mauro Cerilli in 2019.
A fight between Vera and Bhullar was first set to happen in 2020, although it was postponed after the COVID-19 pandemic forced ONE Championship to cancel a series of shows.
Tawanchai Dominates Clancy In ONE Debut
Tawanchai PK.Saenchaimuaythaigym had a strong ONE debut in the co-main event, capping off a strong striking performance against Sean Clancy with a third-round knockout.
Tawanchai’s fight came to an end in the third round when he connected with a head kick which immediately planted Clancy on his back.
Tawanchai’s first knockdown came early, as he dropped Clancy halfway through the first round with a left cross.
Clancy has now lost both of his Muay Thai appearances in ONE Championship.
Nguyen Hands Phogat First Pro Loss, Knocks Her Out of Upcoming Tournament
Bi Nguyen earned an upset win on the card, scoring a split decision over previously undefeated fighter Ritu Phogat. The close victory not only snapped a three-fight losing streak for Nguyen, but eliminated Phogat from the promotion’s upcoming 115-pound tournament.
Nguyen was happy to pick up the win, noting her previous losses afterward.
“I was nervous to be honest because we all know I haven’t had good luck with decisions,” said Nguyen following her victory.
Phogat was visibly shocked by the decision after it was read, although she was congratulatory to Nguyen during her post-fight interview. The decision handed Phogat her first pro loss through five appearances.
Phogat’s wrestling was what gave her the best moments in the fight, while Nguyen’s ability to defend takedowns and score with strikes on the feet did enough for the scorecard win.
Phogat’s best round was the second, where her wrestling skills kept Nguyen on the ground for a large portion of the frame.
Nguyen finished the fight strong, marching forward on a fatigued Phogat with strikes.
Phogat was set to fight at the promotion’s May 28th card “Empower,” where she would face Meng Bo in the first round of an eight-woman bracket. The new opponent for Meng is not known currently.
CORRECTION 5/16: A previous version of the article reflected that Bi Nguyen was given Ritu Phogat’s tournament spot due to her win. The article has been changed to reflect that the bout only took Phogat out of her tournament spot.
Miura Brings Back Americana Success
Ayaka Miura added another americana submission to her record, stopping Rayane Bastos within a round with the rare submission. Miura was quick to take the fight to the ground and search for the choke, eventually securing it in the second minute.
While many fighters don’t have an americana or scarfhold submission on their record, Miura has six in total currently.
Miura had a three-fight streak of americana wins in ONE, although that momentum was stopped in early 2020 when she was finished by strikes from Tiffany Teo.
Bastos was returning to ONE after defeating Sovannahry Em in late 2019. The bout was the 22-year-old’s first pro loss.
Mangat Returns For Decision Win Over Mainam
Gary Mangat had a successful return to the cage in the opening bout of the card, defeating Roshan Mainam via unanimous decision. The three-round bout, which mainly took place on the feet, saw Mangat control the pace for the scorecard nod.
The win put Mangat back into the win column after losing a fight to Reece McLaren in late 2019. Before then, he had a five-fight win streak that included two wins in ONE.
The fight was Mainam’s first loss through four appearances in ONE.
Following his win, Mangat advocated for people to support India, where COVID-19 cases have been devastatingly skyrocketing in recent weeks.
“It’s heartbreaking watching this. We need to do something,” said Mangat in his post-fight interview.
Bout 5: Arjan Bhullar def. Brandon Vera via TKO, Strikes (RD 2) (ONE MMA Heavyweight Championship) (265 lbs)
Bout 4: Tawanchai PK.Saenchaimuaythaigym def. Sean Clancy via TKO, Strikes (RD 3) (Muay Thai Bout)
Bout 3: Bi Nguyen def. Ritu Phogat via Decision, Unanimous (MMA Bout)
Bout 2: Ayaka Miura def. Rayane Bastos via Submission, Americana (RD 1) (MMA Bout)
Bout 1: Gary Mangat def. Roshan Mainam via Decision, Unanimous (MMA Bout)