Indo-Canadian MMA fighter KB Bhullar on being part of UFC: ‘It’s a dream come true’

The 29-year-old Bhullar takes on Andreas Michailidis in UFC’s upcoming Fight Night

KB Bhullar is “as prepared as one can be” ahead of his matchup against the Greek MMA talent Andreas ‘The Spartan’ Michailidis. The Canadian national of Indian descent takes on Andreas inside the Octagon in UFC’s upcoming Fight Night scheduled to take place in Las Vegas, US.

Connecting over video call, the 29-year-old fighter — whose UFC debut last year in Abu Dhabi ended in a loss — called his being part of UFC a “dream come true” and discussed why the MMA organisation would be served better by dipping into the Indian talent pool in the future. Excerpts:

What aspects of your fighting technique have you worked to improve for this bout?

I have added certain new elements to my game. A lot of it comes down to foundational techniques; during the camp [to prepare for the fight], a lot of the focus has been on keeping my hands up as well as on my side-to-side movement, alongside my finishing.

In your opinion, what are some of the key elements that help tilt the scales in favour of a fighter on the day of the bout?

The biggest thing you would need is mental preparation. You have to recognise that all the work has been put in, and acknowledge the pressure that comes with fighting and winning is not something you should rely on. Instead, you rely on your style, and on your knowledge of how ready you are in terms of belonging there. That is important.

Have you identified weaknesses in your opponent for Sunday that you will exploit during the bout?

Yes, there are moments when Andreas likes to come in and push forward with his strikes. He definitely likes to use a lot of his fancy kicks, and if he gets excited he does throw that overhand right and a few of his reverse hook kicks. Having said that, I recognise that Andreas does like to make every shot count.

KB Bhullar | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Observers say that Andreas tends to run out of steam quickly, and that you should probably conserve energy for the action beyond the first round. Is that a sound strategy?

I agree, but I won’t necessarily treat this like a Floyd Mayweather vs Conor McGregor fight where I am just waiting for him to get to that point of reserve. Yeah, there is potential for that to happen, but Andreas is still going to show up as ready as ever. So I don’t want to just rely on that. When the opportunity presents itself to end the fight, it is something to capitalise on but I am anyway prepared to fight the three five-minute rounds.

Describe your experience of being part of UFC.

It is a dream come true. UFC already was, but especially given everything with the pandemic… is the most organised organisation in the world. I am 100% appreciative of everything they have done from coordinating the events, hotels, departures and making sure they are in good communication with my corner men… all of this is so that the one and only thing we can focus on is the fight itself. And what a time to be a part of UFC; it is continuously evolving and the sport itself is growing by the numbers.

Is the UFC doing enough to unearth fresh MMA talent out of India?

What a market India is to tap into. I am not saying that just because I am of Indian descent. There are a billion people in the country who are already in circumstances where they will do anything in their power to put their name on a stage… a bigger platform to showcase their skills. So, if there are any fighters out of Asia, or India itself, they [UFC] should recognise what this can do for their future. Helping fighters put themselves on the map by giving them more opportunities to be the best fighter in the world is what that needs to be done.

KB Bhullar takes on Tom Breese during UFC Fight Night in October 2020 | Photo Credit: Getty Images

But developing into the best fighter isn’t easy…

It is a holistic process. It is not just who can appear as the most stylistic fighter. Being the best MMA fighter means living a certain lifestyle; from a young age, you have to build towards and enjoy living that lifestyle… in terms of nutrition, strength training and sleep. Fighting should really be the one and only thing you are focussing on as a career. Of course, what UFC could do is to bring awareness to these necessities; and if there is any potential in India… then ensuring that these talents have some element of a team or support system that can service these different needs is required.

You took time off from the ring for a few years after you witnessed your brother suffer serious injuries during a fight, but you came back anyway. What did you reflect upon during this time away?

During that period away from fighting, I never stopped training. Of course, I did completely stop fighting. The way I look at it is… fighting is a part of my identity. So I could not fathom the idea of not coming back. For me, it was a matter of recognising that I need to go back there; 10, 20 or 30 years from now I want to be able to say that I fulfilled my passion and that I was able to go to the highest levels of competition and maintain my place. It was just the itch that needed to be scratched, so when the time came I felt ready to come back… and it has been quite fruitful.

Watch ‘UFC Fight Night – Reyes vs Prochazka’ this Sunday, May 2, 2021 LIVE from 7.30 am on Sony Ten 2 channels.

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