Vera to defend heavyweight title in showcase of Indian MMA


Brandon Vera will be back in the Circle to defend his ONE World Heavyweight title when ONE Championship seeks to carry its momentum into May after a historic invasion of U.S. prime-time television in April.

“The Truth” will test the mettle of India’s Arjan “Singh” Bhullar in the main event of ONE: DANGAL, which airs worldwide on Saturday, May 15, 2021. The event is a follow up to “ONE on TNT” series aired in the U.S. last month.

ONE: DANGAL is expected to  showcase the very best of Indian mixed martial arts.

Vera has been the longtime kingpin of ONE Championship’s heavyweight division. He has defeated every heavyweight who faced the former UFC fighter since making his ONE debut in 2014. All four who stood in the Fil-Am’s path kissed the canvass inside the first round.

Igor Subora was the first to fall on December 2014 followed by Paul Cheng on December 2015, Hideki Sekine on December 2016, and Mauro Cerilli on November 2018.

Vera was last seen in action in October of 2019, when he suffered a second-round TKO loss to Aung La N Sang after dropping down to light heavyweight to challenge for the title in that division.

Shortly after, ONE Championship bolstered its heavyweight ranks with a plethora of new athlete signings, many of whom called “The Truth” out including Bhullar.

Though “Singh” was excited then for the host of potential matchups offered by the myriad of high-profile signings that include Iranian Greco-Roman wrestling world champion Amir Aliakbari, and grappling legends Tom DeBlass and Marcus “Buchecha” Almeida inside the ONE Circle, the Indian didn’t take his eyes off the ultimate prize and vowed to defeat Vera for the championship if ever their paths crossed.

“The signings have been really exciting, big names and world-level talent. The heavyweight division has quickly become the toughest division on the roster. I can’t wait to get in the Circle with all of these guys,” said Bhullar late last year.

“But no one else matters to me right now except for Brandon Vera. Once I get that belt, I’m looking forward to taking on all challengers.” he continued.

Bhullar made his name in the world of wrestling, having represented Canada at the 2007, 2009, 2010 and 2011 World Championships, at the 2010 Commonwealth Games, at the 2007 Pan American Games and at the 2012 Summer Olympics.

He developed a brilliant striking repertoire to go along with his masterful application of grappling skills to mixed martial arts which led him to a 10-1 professional record, three of his wins coming by knockouts. These skills were very evident during his ONE debut, winning over Cerilli last October, 2019.

If he can defeat Vera and capture the title, he’ll get to realize his dream of leading India on the global stage of martial arts and become India’s first-ever MMA world champion.

After ONE bolstered its heavyweight ranks,  Vera has since reaffirmed his desire to hold down the fort in his natural weight class, and welcomes all tests coming his way moving forward.

“I’m very much looking forward to all of the challenges and all of the challengers,” said Vera. “I’m looking to fight twice a year. There are enough people that I want to compete against throughout the year to motivate me to go twice.” he declared.

Aside from the Vera-Bhullar bout, ONE: DANGAL also features Tawanchai PK.Saenchai Muaythaigym vs. Sean Clancy (Muay Thai – bantamweight); Bi Nguyen vs. Ritu Phogat (mixed martial arts – atomweight); Ayaka Miura vs. Rayane Bastos (mixed martial arts – catchweight of 58.25 KG); Gurdarshan Mangat vs. Roshan Mainam (mixed martial arts – catchweight of 65 KG) and Anthony Do vs. Liang Hui (mixed martial arts – catchweight of 57.7 KG).

By: Armando M. Bolislis