The Indian-Canadian officially kickstarts his quest for the heavyweight gold at ONE: DAWN OF HEROES this Friday, 2 August in Manila, Philippines.
Bhullar intends to make a strong statement in his debut with the world’s largest martial arts organization, although it will unfortunately come at the expense of Mauro “The Hammer” Cerilli.
“Singh” knows “The Hammer” will aim to make a dent on his title aspirations, especially after the Italian’s recent first-round TKO victory against Alain “The Panther” Ngalani at ONE: REIGN OF VALOR.
The magnitude of their heavyweight tilt is not lost on Bhullar, but the Olympic wrestler has more on his mind than just impressing his new employers.
Adding a win to his 9-1 record will take him a step closer toward the heavyweight belt and help establish Bhullar as the face of mixed martial arts in India.
There were substantial offers made during negotiations prior to joining ONE, but Bhullar admitted to being most swayed by co-founder and Vice Chairman of the board Saurabh Mittal’s vision for mixed martial arts in India.
“Aside from the financials, I had a conversation with the whole [ONE] team, face to face,” Bhullar revealed.
“One of the owners is actually Indian, and he has major plans for India in 2020, which is the reason they came in with a great offer.”
According to Bhullar, ONE has taken all the right steps so far in driving the growth of mixed martial arts in his country.
“They signed a huge TV deal in India,” Bhullar continued. “They’ve said that they hope to expand into India in 2020 and they need a hero.”
The Commonwealth Games wrestling gold medalist always felt strong support from his countrymen wherever he competed, and he believes the Mall Of Asia Arena in Manila will be no exception.
“It’s in the Philippines – they sell out the arena every time, 20,000 people,” Bhullar explained. “There’s a great Indian community there as well, so I’m excited.”
While “Singh” is focused on winning in Manila, he feels it will only be a matter of time before he carries the Indian pride back to his motherland.
When that happens, Bhullar wants to impact the sport of mixed martial arts in India like no other athlete before him.
“My goals when I got into the sport were to be a World Champion,” Bhullar said, “which I can do with ONE under this contract, and [to build] a lasting legacy by opening up the market in India and championing the sport in [the] country, which I know I can do.”