(James Goyder is the owner/editor of AsianMMA.com)
Two UFC veterans faced off in the main event of ONE: ‘Dangal’. Heavyweight champion Brandon Vera was putting his strap on the line against Arjan Bhullar and the challenger needed less than two rounds to snatch the belt away from the only fighter to have ever held it.
The event at the Singapore Indoor Stadium was broadcast on Saturday night (local time) and both men started tentatively, occasionally switching stance but reluctant to commit to combinations. Towards the end of the round Bhullar secured a single leg takedown and Vera worked for a kimura.
Bhular appeared to be in danger of becoming the first fighter to be submitted by Vera since 2006 but was able to keep all his weight on the left arm and prevent the champion from pulling it out and away from his body. The stalemate continued until the bell with the challenger in top position but stalling to avoid the submission attempt.
At the start of the second stanza Vera attacked with jabs and low kicks but a right hand from Bhullar connected and then a straight left seemed to stop the 43 year old in his stride. The champion’s offensive output dropped immediately and the challenger sensed the finish might be in sight.
Vera saw a tired looking head attempt at a head kick blocked and found himself on the receiving end of a straight right to the body. Bhullar followed up with a takedown and then started to offload with punches from the back position with the champion on his hands and knees.
Bhullar was landing a series of shots to the side of Vera’s head but none of them looked too damaging. It was all one way traffic though and at the 4:27 minute mark the referee decided he had seen enough.
There were no complaints from Vera who slips to 16-9-0-1 after his second successive loss and must surely be contemplating retirement. Bhullar improves to 11-1, has won four in a row with the UFC and ONE Championship and is the new heavyweight champion.
The event had an Indian theme but things didn’t go according to plan for Ritu Phogat (4-1). She slipped to a split decision loss to Bi Nguyen (6-6), a result which cost her a spot in the upcoming atomweight Grand Prix.
Phogat controlled the first two rounds with takedowns but looked extremely uncomfortable in the striking exchanges. The Indian ran out of steam in the final round and while Nguyen couldn’t land anything of note she was the more aggressive and it was enough to convince two of the three judges to award her the win.
Earlier in the evening Ayaka Miura (11-3-0-1) submitted Rayane Bastos (4-1-1) with her trademark scarf hold americana
ONE: ‘Dangal’ Results:
- Arjan Bhullar def. Brandon Vera via TKO (Punches) at 4:27 in R2
- Muay Thai: Tawanchai PK.Saenchaigym def. Sean Clancy via KO (Head Kick) at o:35 of R3
- Bi Nguyen def. Ritu Phogat via Decision (Split)
- Ayaka Miura def. Rayane Bastos via Submission (Scarf hold Americana) at 2:58 of R1
- Gary Mangat def. Roshan Mainam via Decision (Unanimous)