Arjan Bhullar wins One Championship Heavyweight title; Ritu Phogat suffers first MMA loss
Arjan Bhullar is the first Indian-origin fighter to win a high-level MMA title.
India's mixed martial arts (MMA) star Ritu Phogat's unbeaten run came to an end on Saturday as she lost to Vietnamese-American fighter Bi Nguyen in a tightly-contested match at One Championship's One: Dangal.
In the main event, Arjan Bhullar dethroned longtime heavyweight king Brandon Vera to capture the ONE Heavyweight World Title and become the first Indian-origin MMA World Champion. In 2010, Bhullar had won the Commonwealth Games gold medal in 120kg freestyle wrestling for Canada in New Delhi.
Bhullar cautiously approached Vera in the first round, looking to string together combinations to set up a takedown. He stifled Vera with feints and strikes, freezing the Filipino-American on his feet and making him hesitant to engage. Bhullar took Vera down toward the end of the opening frame and controlled him on the mat.
— ONE Championship (@ONEChampionship) May 15, 2021
In the second round, Bhullar capitalised on his feints by catching Vera with an overhand right that sent him reeling toward the Circle Wall. A few more right hands compounded the damage, and a debilitating body shot had Vera gasping for air. Once Bhullar was able to close the distance and latch onto the defending World Champion with a body lock, it signalled the beginning of the end. Bhullar brought Vera to the mat and pounded him out for the technical knockout victory.
Ritu's unbeaten streak ends
Ritu came into the fight with a perfect 4-0 record. However, the unbeaten streak finally ended with Nguyen clinching a hard-earned victory. Nguyen won by razor-thin split decision after three close rounds where Ritu seemed to have the upper hand after the first two rounds.
Ritu was disappointed after her loss but accepted the defeat and promised to work hard on her skills.
"Didn’t thought I lost the match but respect the decision...Am blessed after getting a huge support of you guys around my country and around the world after today’s match... thankyou everyone...Win and loss is part of game next time will work hard more..God bless all..stay safe (sic)," she wrote on Twitter.
Didn’t thought I lost the match but respect the decision...Am blessed after getting a huge support of you guys around my country and around the world after today’s match... thankyou everyone...Win and loss is part of game next time will work hard more..God bless all..stay safe ❤️ pic.twitter.com/cddqkPF9c3
— Ritu phogat (@PhogatRitu) May 15, 2021
Muay Thai phenom Tawanchai PK Saenchai Muaythaigym made his promotional debut in the co-main event and dominated former WBC Muay Thai World Champion Sean Clancy to win by knockout in round three.
Also, fourth-ranked women’s strawweight contender Ayaka Miura made quick work of Rayane Bastos, making the Brazilian submit in the first round of a catchweight contest. Indo-Canadian Gurdarshan Mangat overcame a spirited effort from India's Roshan Mainam to win by unanimous decision.
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