KEY POINTS

  • Arjan Bhullar beat Brandon Vera for the ONE Championship heavyweight title last May
  • ONE Championship chairman Chatri Sityodtong is open to a cross-promotion event with the UFC.
  • Bhullar believes he has the keys to beating Francis Ngannou

Indian wrestling phenom Arjan Bhullar is fresh off a resounding victory over Filipino-American Brandon Vera last May to capture ONE Championship’s heavyweight title.

Now sitting at the apex of his division, the 35-year-old veteran says he’s looking forward to what lies ahead in his career.

“Being a champion has immediately changed my life. So many doors have opened up, so many new opportunities that I’m excited about. We’re going to make so many announcements in the coming weeks and months here. Life has changed, and the whole world is about to find out in which way,” Bhullar told the International Business Times.

“I’m hungrier than ever. All these new opportunities opening up, the platform I’ve got, the level I’m at, I’ve worked many, many years to get here -- an entire lifetime. I am very, very hungry to keep climbing and get to that next challenge, that next level. I am not about to plateau. I am not about to dip. I’m looking to climb. That is the mindset and I can’t wait for the next steps.”

One of those possibilities, although admittedly way out there, is a potential showdown with UFC heavyweight titleholder Francis Ngannou.

Francis Ngannou Francis Ngannou Photo: @UFC on Twitter

A hypothetical UFC vs. ONE mega event was teased a few weeks back by none other than ONE Championship head honcho Chatri Sityodtong.

A cross-promotional event between rival organizations is indeed rare, but it isn’t anything new.

Nevertheless, the idea of ONE Championship’s best athletes going head-to-head with the UFC elite has garnered a lot of buzz from fans on social media.

Not surprisingly, Bhullar is open to fighting Ngannou.

“Francis is a beast of a man, a knockout machine, and a champion in his own right, of his people of Africa. I have a lot of respect for his body of work. What he’s trying to do in Africa, I’m trying to do for India. What he’s trying to do for his people, I’m doing for my people. He’s got a great foundation that he helps people with. He has great values as an individual, all of those things, and he’s a champion as am I,” Bhullar said.

“That matchup would be a welcomed matchup.”

When asked how he would fight and beat Ngannou should they somehow wind up in the same cage together, Bhullar laid down his game plan.

“There’s a blueprint to beat him. He’s got huge knockout power, but with that huge knockout power, there’s also a downside to individuals with that kind of power. They burn hot and they burn early. You gotta drag the fight out. You gotta wrestle him up, and that would be the game plan before you sink and drown him,” Bhullar said.

“All the respect to him and his body of work. That is the blueprint. He would say that’s not possible, and I would say it is, and that’s when we would fight and figure that out.”

Ngannou has 16 wins on his resume, all of which have ended inside the distance.

“[He has] tremendous power, fight-ending power until the end of the fight. We’ve seen that with the Stipe [Miocic] fights, even when he got dragged deep. If he does not drag deep, then he ends guys. But he’s still developing as well, and so am I,” Bhullar stated.

“I don’t get hit often, not much at all. Throughout my entire career, I haven’t gotten hit clean. I feel my timing, my distance management, my defensive capabilities, and my counter wrestling would all match up beautifully with that.”

“Again, it would be a great matchup. All of Africa, all of India, stand up,” Bhullar concluded.