ONE CEO Chatri Sityodtong savagely takes down Arjan Bhullar after DQ: 'India will no longer look at him as a hero'


You might say ONE Championship CEO Chatri Sityodtong took a page out of Dana White’s playbook on Friday.

Countless times throughout the years, White has thrown his UFC fighters under the bus when they haven’t performed to his expectations. Sityodtong did just that after ONE Championship 166 when he went in on criticizing former heavyweight champion Arjan Bhullar following his disqualification loss to Amir Aliakbari.

“There’s just no excuse,” Sityodtong told reporters at the ONE Championship 166 post-event news conference in Lusail, Qatar. “What Arjhan did is just unacceptable at ONE Championship.”

The reason Bhullar was disqualified? Inactivity.

To say Sityodtong was embarrassed by the outcome might be an understatement as he didn’t hold back with his criticism of Bhullar (11-3).

“That’s the first time in the history of the company that we’ve ever issued a red card on timidity,” Sityodtong said. “He didn’t want to fight. And if you don’t want to fight then why are you a professional fight? And you definitely don’t belong in the pinnacle of martial arts. I was deeply disappointed in Arjan, and I think he let down India.

“India will no longer look at him as a hero.”

Harsh words from the ONE boss about a fighter the promotion once touted as a huge deal for growing MMA in India. But were they warranted?

Referee Herb Dean made things clear with repeated warnings throughout the fight that he needed to see more forward engagement from Bhullar. Using ONE’s soccer-like card warning system, Dean issued Bhullar a yellow card early in the second round and then again a few minutes later before the bell rang – each of which came with a 10 percent fine from Bhullar’s fight purse.

At the start of the third, Dean told Bhullar a third infraction would likely incur a disqualification. With 45 seconds left in the fight, Dean finally had seen enough – or not enough – and disqualified Bhullar.

The defeat was Bhullar’s second in a row after he lost the heavyweight title to Anatoly Malykhin – who became a three-division champion at ONE 166 –in June 2023.

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