When Arjan Bhullar decided to sign with ONE Championship after leaving the UFC in free agency, he had one requirement in mind regarding his new contract.
The clause he wanted to add involved an eventual opening to cross over into the world of professional wrestling, which is a passion project that Bhullar has been cultivating for many years.
After winning the ONE heavyweight title with a dominant second-round finish over Brandon Vera in April, Bhullar is now getting more serious about making that transition as he begins scouting out potential suitors with hopes of landing with either World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) or All Elite Wrestling (AEW).
“It was serious from the get-go and it is serious,” Bhullar told MMA Fighting when asked about his plans to move into professional wrestling. “I’m picking a fight with these guys, with the entire industry. AEW, WWE, it doesn’t matter. When I actually signed over from the UFC, we had language in our contract that would open the door to this. So we had some foresight on this.
“Both industries there’s a blend there in terms of crossover and like I said, I want to pick a fight with these guys. They think they’re tough guys in the industry, I think I’m tougher. For the WWE, India’s the biggest market. They had over 20 million people tune in to their last event. You want India, we want India in terms of MMA, it all works.”
While the WWE has definitely made India a priority in recent years, Bhullar is just as interested in possibly working with AEW, with that promotion already part of the Turner Sports family while broadcasting shows on TNT with a move to TBS planned in 2022.
ONE Championship also has a broadcast deal with Turner Sports and just recently aired four cards over four weeks on TNT in April.
“AEW, it would be the same thing. The TNT deal, crossover with ONE, it would be amazing,” Bhullar said. “Kenny Omega was helping out with promos for this event with Shinya Aoki. Jinder [Mahal] was helping out with me. You had John Cena helping out with [Brandon] Vera so it’s all there.
“We had conversations with the companies into this fight and again a little more serious on the back end. Within all that is Chatri [Sityodtong] and ONE and I think we can find some common ground and value for everyone.”
Bhullar has already been training alongside WWE superstar Jinder Mahal as he gets himself ready to tackle his future in pro wrestling.
Make no mistake, Bhullar isn’t giving up his mixed martial arts career in favor of working with promotions like WWE or AEW. He wants to do both MMA and pro wrestling simultaneously.
As a heavyweight, the 35-year-old former amateur wrestling standout also knows he has the size to matchup next to some of the biggest stars in WWE or AEW, which is an advantage he holds over other fighters like Conor McGregor who have long been talked about when discussing MMA fighters taking a stab at pro wrestling.
While McGregor undoubtedly stacks up with star power and his biting trash talk, he’s physically smaller than the many of the athletes at the top of the game in promotions like WWE or AEW.
“We’ve got the fandom, we’ve got the real life Olympic, MMA credentials,” Bhullar said. “There’s no weight like heavyweight. That’s true in the fight game, that’s true in anything in life. You make an accurate point about Conor and the same thing when they brought Floyd [Mayweather] over and he’s punching [former WWE star] Big Show, he had to get on his knees for [Floyd] to punch him. That’s not going to happen. That’s comical, right?
“Everyone liked Shaq [Shaquille O’Neal] coming through whether that’s against Cody Rhodes or The Big Show that’s more real. I see the value in that and I think the industry will see the value in that.”
Bhullar makes it clear that this isn’t some kind of gimmick he’s building in order to grow his profile now that he’s reached the pinnacle of the heavyweight division in ONE Championship after claiming the title.
Instead, he’s just ready to fulfill a lifelong dream to make pro wrestling a part of his career after he grew up in Canada while idolizing performers such as Bret “The Hitman” Hart.
“Like I said, I’m picking a fight with these guys,” Bhullar said. “Whether it’s Jon Moxley, the top guy over there, the Inner Circle, the Bellator fighter who’s supposed to be blood and guts [Jake Hager]. I’ll go up against [Scott] Coker’s guy no problem or whether that’s Coker’s guy in WWE, Bobby Lashley. He thinks it’s the ‘Mighty’ era, no it’s my era. I’ll call out any of these guys. If it’s [Chris] Jericho, I’ll retire him like I did Vera.”