Arjan “Singh” Bhullar has only just begun his reign as the ONE Heavyweight World Champion, but he’s keeping a close eye on the chasing pack.
“Our division is very stacked,” the 35-year-old Indian superstar says. “We’ve got the world’s best from multiple different disciplines.”
Indeed, ONE’s heavyweight mixed martial arts ranks are chock-full of elite wrestlers, devastating strikers, and world-class Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioners, all of whom want to knock the newly crowned king off his throne.
Bhullar isn’t fazed by those talented contenders, however. Though the division is getting richer and richer, the Indian simply believes that his own skill set and work ethic are on another level.
Here, “Singh” reveals his true thoughts on seven of the best heavyweight fighters in the promotion, as well as two-division ONE World Champion Reinier “The Dutch Knight” de Ridder, who is eager to move up and take his gold.
“He’s world-class. He’s fought the who’s who [of mixed martial artists]. He was knocking out everyone in the heavyweight division in the first round. He was the champion for five, six years.
“He’s very well-rounded, dangerous everywhere, likes to stand, great jiu-jitsu, and has a wrestling background. He’s very dangerous all the way around, but not enough for me.”
“Kang Ji Won’s a young kid, undefeated, [and surprises] himself. Still, he has a great future ahead of him. He can move like a middleweight — fast feet, fast hands, and tough.
“But he gets hit too much for my liking. He gets hit clean and hasn’t faced someone like me who can mix it up all the way together, who can hit him as well as take him down, which he has shown.”
“A good grappler, knows how to win, well-trained, and a big, strong dude. He’s all of those things. But the verdict is still out on him – is he well-rounded?
“He hasn’t had to face a high-level wrestler yet that can shut him down on the takedowns and impose takedowns on him. So, what’s he going to look like when he’s getting hit and has to be in a stand-up fight? What’s he going to look like when he’s getting taken down? Those are questions that still remain.”
“Very, very tough fighter. Hard-nosed. He wants to win and has the will to win.
“[He has] all of those things and is still getting better, as he showed in his last fight. I feel that he has improved and is still on the road to the championship. But he’s another guy who will not be able to close the gap against me.”
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“I love this guy. Mon ami de Senegal (My friend from Senegal)! A traditional wrestler, big and strong. A great athlete, but soft throat – and I’ll leave it at that.”
“You have to respect his athleticism. [He is] big, strong, knows how to win, comes from the wrestling world [and has] a lot of winning on the MMA side. But as an individual, I don’t respect him.
“I don’t like how much he talks. You know, we come from the world of wrestling, where we get to work and let the work do the talking. I understand the promotion on this side of things, but I think he’s gotten away from the hard work and what he was.
“There are holes in his game as well. If he can impose his wrestling, great. If he can keep you down, great. But if you can make him work – people like Heath Herring have given him trouble. Kang Ji Won starched him, showed the holes in his stand-up, which we see as well. And he hasn’t faced a high-level wrestler either, so there are definitely question marks there as well. ”
“Another wrestler. I love how we have so many wrestlers signed up. This guy is a Greco-Roman guy as well, and he put out the big scary monster of “Reug Reug” in his last fight. Maybe they run it back. Maybe he gets another win, and he’s in the running for the gold.
“But that’s a guy that I like – long and rangy. Obviously, he’s tough, coming from the world of wrestling, he has the will to win but showed that he’s tough in the MMA world as well, which is different than the wrestling world. So, respect to him.”
“Alain, my homie! The “Black Panther.” I love this guy. I thought that “Reug Reug” might be Alain 2.0, but the Instagram world is still dominated by “The Panther,” and when he’s on, he’s dangerous in the cage as well.
“ I love what this guy is doing late into his career. Got to respect that. Still training, still looking to win, all of those things, and he looks amazing doing it all. ”
Reinier ‘The Dutch Knight’ de Ridder
“Last but not least, De Ridder. Out of the Netherlands, their two-weight champ. Respect to him for that. Good grappler, respect there as well. But he hasn’t faced anyone like me. He’s beaten Aung La N Sang, and that’s about it.
“You know, Aung La has done great things in this sport, but he couldn’t stop a takedown if his life depended on it. He welcomes the ground game, and he played that game when he shouldn’t have with [De Ridder] because the stand-up is where he was miles ahead. So that’s up to him and his coaches and his approach.
“But at the end of the day, [De Ridder] did win, and he has two belts. Let’s see him defend. I will do the same, and if he’s still around, we’ll get it on. “