INDIAN-CANADIAN MMA FIGHTER Arjan Singh Bhullar returned to winning ways with a unanimous decision victory over Marcelo Golm at the UFC Fight Night 138 event in Montcon, Canada.
Arjan came off a loss to Adam Wieczorek, where he was dominating the fight but fell to an Omoplata in the second round. Seen as a potential top contender in the UFC Heavyweight division, he needed to return to winning ways in order to begin his ascent up the ladder.
His opponent Marcelo Golm was also coming off a loss, but the accomplished Brazilian striker had developed a reputation for himself as a knockout artist. His first 5 fights in pro-MMA got him first round knockouts or TKOs, landing him in the UFC where he submitted Christian Colombo with a rear-naked choke 2:08 minutes into the first round. This was the longest fight of his career at that moment.
His next fight resulted in him losing undefeated status to Timothy Johnson by decision; which was the first time a fight of his went the distance.
The setup was simple: Golm was going to try to knock Arjan out, and the former Olympian wrestler needed to withstand that heat and bring the fight to his own realm with a takedown.
When the first round began it was obvious that Golm had come with a plan to invest in Arjan's leading left leg with repeated low leg kicks. The two heavyweights traded punches with Arjan trying to push Golm back to the cage, which he did but the latter managed to push his way out. Golm was happy to concede Octagon space in order to avoid the takedown threat, but he managed to land some heavy kicks on Arjan's left leg. About a minute and a half in, a particularly heavy kick even tripped Arjan, although he was quick to get back on his feet and carry on despite visible swelling and blackness on the leg.
For his part, Arjan was cautious with his takedown attempts so as to avoid getting caught while coming in by an opponent famous for his knockout power. The fight stayed on the feet throughout the first round, which, to Arjan's credit, demonstrated a willingness to go where his opponent was most comfortable. And he actually won the exchange, landing more strikes and breaking through Golm's guard multiple times.
As the bell rang out, Golm had a reddened, bruised face and Arjan had a slight limp on his left leg which he tried hard to shake off. But unbeknownst to him, something significant had happened: while landing one of the leg kicks, Golm's right foot caught Arjan's shin. And the impact had hurt him well enough to make him think his foot might be broken.
During the break after the first round, Arjan's corner told him to go for a takedown in and "jab your way in." He tried that, but the first minute of the second round saw Golm check Arjan with the leg kick and then push him back to the cage. Cornered and in the clinch, Arjan landed some knees on Golm, and eventually the Brazilian was exhausted enough to allow Arjan to push him backwards then turn him and pin him to the cage. Both fighters threw knees in the clinch and Arjan eventually went for a single leg takedown but Golm showed great defence and managed to escape.
Golm moved back to the centre of the Octagon and engaged Arjan in a stand-up battle where he utilized his leg kicks to set up a jumping knee that momentarily destabilized Arjan. Following up, Golm pounced with a left hook and a couple more strikes. It was Arjan's turn to defend; he walked back often to stay out of range of Golm's power shots. Eventually he got the clinch again and pushed Golm back to the cage and landed a few low knees, but Golm managed to get out again.
This was the closest round of the fight, and most judges awarded it to Golm.
By now, Arjan's corner had noticed that the right foot of Golm had begun to swell. They pointed it out to Arjan and told him to attack it go for the takedown. Arjan went into the third round knowing that the fight was potentially even on the judges' scorecards and he needed to win the last round in a convincing way to ensure victory.
As the round began two things became obvious: Golm was tired from the clinches, and his right foot was starting to hurt. Arjan immediately exploited both factors, pushing him back to the cage in another clinch and stomping on Golm's injured foot.
Golm managed to escape but Arjan's persistent jabs pushed him back again and this time, Arjan managed to get his long sought takedown. He managed to corner an exasperated Golm and picked him up (Golm weighed in at 115 kg to Arjan's 109 kg), then slammed him onto the canvas. From here, it was all Arjan. He engaged in a vicious ground-and-pound pummeling Golm with punches. Golm tried to contain him by wrapping his legs around Arjan, who managed to escape the guard twice then moved back into it, choosing between multiple shorter punches and longer punches at will.
Golm never got back up. To top it off, Arjan moved sideways to half guard where he could drill into Golm with his right hand.
When the final bell sounded, there was no doubt who had won the contest. Arjan had held his own and even won some exchanges in striking and once the fight went to the ground his opponent was clearly out of his depth.
The judges awarded him a resounding unanimous decision victory by 30-29, 30-29, 30-28.
This victory puts Arjan's pro MMA record at 8-1, while Golm has slipped to 6-2 with back to back losses.
After the fight, Arjan announced his intention to come for the UFC Heavyweight belt. With the momentum back on his sails and the UFC matchmakers taking notice, it will be interesting to see who he gets paired with next.