UFC on FOX 29: Arjan Bhullar aiming to be the role model he never saw on TV

(Getty Photographs)

Arjan Singh Bhullar desperately needed his sophomore look in the Octagon to happen on the March UFC Battle Night time occasion in London, England.

The Canadian heavyweight represented his nation on the wrestling mats there throughout the 2012 Olympic Video games, and with London boasting a big South Asian group, Bhullar felt the bustling metropolis was the good place for him to make his second march to the Octagon. It wasn’t meant to be.

“It’s bizarre the means the world works and the method that life works out,” Bhullar advised Sporting Information on Wednesday, days prior to his battle UFC on FOX struggle versus Adam Wieczorek. “We have been making an attempt and making an attempt to get on that UFC London card in early March considering that I competed there for the Olympics, there’s a huge Indian group, this and that, however for the lifetime of us, we couldn’t get on the rattling card.

“Subsequent factor you realize, they ebook us for April 14 and I’m like, ‘Are you kidding me? I didn’t know there was a card on the 14th — that’s even higher.’”

April 14 is the vacation of Vaisakhi, a day celebrated by Sikhs the world over as the start of the Khalsa, a way of life devised by Guru Gobind Singh in 1699, and the formation of the Khalsa panth of warriors.

Lengthy earlier than he arrived in the UFC, Bhullar sought to use no matter platform he had to be a constructive role model inside the Sikh group and supply an instance of a proud, profitable Sikh athlete competing at the elite degree.

Since getting the name of the Octagon, the 31-yr-previous Richmond, British Columbia native has maintained that place and upped the ante, working with the UFC and its outfitting companions at Reebok to permit him to put on his turban to the cage on Struggle Night time and in producing a signature line of shirts which he’s debuting this weekend.

Whereas these alternatives may sound insignificant to some, they imply the world to Bhullar as a result of when he was rising up, he couldn’t determine himself inside the scores of professional athletes competing in televised sporting occasions every weekend.

Now he hopes to be that individual for the subsequent era.

“It’s a big deal,” stated Bhullar, the first fighter of South Asian descent to signal with the UFC. “You take a look at how many individuals we have now worldwide and all through historical past, nobody has been in a position to have a platform in any main sport to be in a position to converse and inform our tales.

“Now Reebok is popping out with shirts, so we will be on a serious clothes model and inform our story that means. These alternatives have never been open to us, and that features me rising up. If I had somebody like that who seemed like me, talked like me, ate the similar meals, had the similar upbringing, it will have meant that rather more to me to be related with that individual.

“I put myself in these footwear as a bit of child and I’m hoping I’m in a position to do this for another person now.”

Being a beacon for an enormous inhabitants and making an attempt to raise them up whereas chasing skilled success is a frightening process, however Bhullar wouldn’t have it another approach as a result of he is aware of nothing else.

From an early age, it was instilled in him by his mom that he was going to have the alternative to make an influence on this world and that he wanted to use no matter platform he was afforded to do good.

He was additionally bolstered by the actions of his childhood idol, Muhammad Ali, a person he’s studied diligently not for his prowess in the ring, however his activism and the influence he made inside his group and the world at giant.

“Data are meant to be damaged, however that sort of influence lasts for generations and that facet excites me,” he stated of Ali’s affect and his want to have an identical affect on his personal group. “It’s very fulfilling to me, so I assume you’ll be able to say that I’m somewhat egocentric in that method as a result of it provides extra objective and motivation to what I’m doing — it fills up my tank — and I feel that there’s a deeper which means to what we’re doing right here.

“It’s too shallow to assume we’re simply coming right here and preventing. It’s too primary for me. I want greater than that.”

At the similar time, Bhullar is conscious about the undeniable fact that profitable is the key to all of this. So as to have a platform and symbolize his group, his religion and his individuals at the highest degree in combined martial arts, he has to proceed profitable.

To date in his professional profession, he’s an ideal 7-zero. After years competing on the wrestling mats round the globe, the former Pan-Am Video games gold medalist is aware of what it takes to compete at a world-class degree and isn’t going to be shaken by the vibrant lights, huge venues and crush of consideration that comes with preventing in the UFC.

The truth is, he embraces it.

“I’m very conscious of my priorities,” stated Bhullar, who earned a unanimous determination victory over Luis Henrique in his promotional debut at UFC 215 in September. “None of this different stuff issues until you win. I used to be raised as such, my coaches have informed me that for years and years. I’m programmed that approach.

“What I’ve informed my administration and everyone else is that I understand how to win, I understand how to compete — I’ve been doing it for therefore lengthy. The change will be on; I simply need to make sure that I’m in a position to do every thing else as nicely.

“Get me in a 50,000-seat stadium. Let’s go to India. Let’s do that factor,” he stated. “I’m excited for that stuff. That’s what will get me up and thru the every day grind. That have is large. The upper up you go, everyone seems to be huge, quick, robust, going to be in form— all that — nevertheless it’s the psychological recreation, the insides that separate individuals. I’ve that. I’ve that have.

“You possibly can put together in addition to you need, however are you in a position to execute? Lots of people aren’t. Lots of people are the similar as they’re in the fitness center and I select to be higher than I used to be in coaching and rise to the event. I feel that that have and that potential to carry out are big as a result of not everybody has that.”

Saturday night time, inside the Gila River Area, Bhullar intends to discover out if Wieczorek possess these traits and the capability to keep away from the onslaught that’s coming his method.

“The sport plan is all the time the similar — I’m going to punch, punch, punch, come ahead, strain, wrestle him up and beat him up,” he stated with amusing. “That’s what we do. That’s our (modus operandi) — you comprehend it’s going to come, however the query is are you able to cease it and I don’t assume Adam can.”