After two weeks without an event, ONE Championship returns with a stacked card of four MMA bouts and one Muay Thai fight. ONE Championship: Dangal goes down on Saturday, May 15, at 6 a.m. ET inside of the Singapore Indoor Stadium in Singapore. The event features young prospects, a must-see Muay Thai bout, and the return of heavyweight champion Brandon Vera.
Vera originally joined ONE in 2014 after a UFC career that featured all of the ups and downs the fight game offers. “The Truth” came to ONE with the hopes of reinventing himself and benefiting from the change in scenery.
Since leaving the UFC, Vera has had more success than most could have imagined. He started his ONE career with a first-round soccer-kick knockout to introduce himself to the new fans. He rode that momentum into his second fight, where the vacant heavyweight title was on the line. The former UFC star only needed 26 seconds to win the belt by head-kick knockout. Vera has continued to display his dominance by defending the strap twice, both times via first-round knockout. After losing for the first time in his ONE tenure when he fought Aung La N Sang at a catchweight, Vera now returns to defend his belt against arguably his toughest challenge yet.
That challenge comes in the form of former Olympic wrestler Arjan Bhullar. Bhullar turned pro in 2014 after competing in the 2012 London Olympics. He came out of the gate firing with six straight wins over three years. After such a dominant run, Bhullar was signed by the UFC in late 2017. His response to the step up in competition ultimately showed why he can become a world champion.
Bhullar made the most of his UFC opportunity by going 3-1 over a two-year period. Unfortunately, he and the UFC decided to go their separate ways after his final fight in 2019. Just like Vera, Bhullar found himself with new opportunities when he signed with ONE. Before giving him a title shot, the company called upon Mauro Cerilli to introduce Bhullar to his new home. Bhullar turned in a dominant unanimous-decision win over Cerilli and has now been rewarded with this title shot. Will he ride his momentum into the biggest win of his career? Or will Vera continue his reign of terror in the heavyweight division?
ONE Championship: Dangal can be seen live in its entirety on B/R Live in the United States and via ONE’s YouTube channel and app in much of the world.
What does Arjan Bhullar need to do in order to unseat Brandon Vera as ONE’s heavyweight champion?
Since joining the promotion, Vera has continued to display his dominant striking. All four of Vera’s wins have been by knockout, and he will certainly look to make Bhullar his fifth such victim. If Bhullar wants to win this fight, he needs to avoid the power of Vera and create grappling exchanges early.
Bhullar needs to use a similar blueprint to the one he implemented in his last fight against Mauro Cerilli. The Olympic wrestler made sure to use constant movement and timing to avoid the power shots of Cerilli. This will be crucial on Saturday, because Vera’s speed and technical striking advantage will make Bhullar a sitting duck if he does not keep moving. Luckily for Bhullar, he has reliable cardio that will give him the opportunity to stay active even in the later rounds.
Bhullar will also need to execute his own offensive game plan. The wrestler needs to control the distance early to set up his takedowns. If he stays on his feet for too long, then it will surely end in trouble for Bhullar. When the fight starts, expect Bhullar to throw his feints and jabs to try to back up Vera to the cage. Once Vera is backed up, Bhullar can use his powerful wrestling to tire out his opponent.
If Bhullar lands a takedown, then this is all over. He will begin to rack up control time and try to finish the fight. Vera has decent grappling from his countless years of fighting, but nothing that compares to Bhullar’s background.
Bhullar has every tool needed to beat Vera, but it will not be easy.
Should fans care about the lone Muay Thai fight on the docket?
If you have not watched the beautiful art of Muay Thai, then you have another golden opportunity on Saturday. Tawanchai PK Saenchai and Sean Clancy have the potential to steal the show. This fight offers you the opportunity to watch one of the biggest superstars in Thailand make his ONE debut against a gritty veteran.
The 22-year-old Tawanchai comes into this fight as the No. 2 pound-for-pound fighter in the world according to The Nation Thailand’s Muay Thai rankings. He previously won the Muay Thai “Male Fighter of the Year” and holds a 124-30-2 record.
Clancy has every reason to believe he can upset the young superstar. He previously won the WBC Muay Thai championship and possesses a 43-21-1 career mark. The 32-year-old has seen it all, but he now looks to get back on track after losing his promotional debut.
Clancy can forever solidify himself as a Muay Thai great if he can find a way to take down one of the biggest superstars in Muay Thai. Regardless of the outcome, it is safe to say this is a must-see fight.
Which fight is the sleeper match-up on this card?
The opening featherweight bout between Gary Mangat and Roshan Mainam. This fight features two men who seem to hate going to the scorecards. Between the two of them, five of their six fights with ONE have ended with a finish. Not only do their fights rarely go the distance, but these fighters have a contrast in styles that will be interesting to see play out.
Mangat comes into this fight after suffering a loss to Reece McLaren in 2019. He is extremely dangerous, though, with three of his last five wins coming by either knockout or TKO. Mangat now looks to get back on track against Mainam.
Mainam has been on a tear lately. He won his last three fights, all by submission. Mainam is a ball of energy, and he continues to display his relentless grappling. He now seeks to keep the momentum going against Mangat.
This is simply a fight you do not want to miss. Both fighters tend to get early finishes, but in completely different ways. You will not see many people talking about this fight, but it has “Fight of the Night” potential written all over it.
Main Card (B/R Live, 6 a.m. ET)
MMA (HW Championship): Brandon Vera vs. Arjan Bhullar
Muay Thai (BW): Tawanchai PK Saenchai vs. Sean Clancy
MMA (Women’s AtomW): Bi Nguyen vs. Ritu Phogat
MMA (Women’s Catchweight): Ayaka Miura vs. Rayane Bastos
MMA (Catchweight): Gurdarshan Mangat vs. Roshan Mainam
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