Arjan Bhullar inspired by Daniel Cormier ahead of debut at UFC 215

Arjan Bhullar of Canada (in blue) seen here facing Komeil Ghasemi of Iran during the men's 120-kg freestyle wrestling competition at the 2012 Summer Olympic Games. (Paul Sancya/AP)

When former Canadian Olympic wrestler Arjan Bhullar found out he’d be making his UFC debut in Canada on Sept. 9 at UFC 215, the 31-year-old wanted to make the most of his preparation. Early in his training camp, the Richmond, B.C., native had the opportunity to train at the American Kickboxing Academy, home to former UFC light-heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier.  The pair have had a long friendship dating back to Bhullar’s Olympic career.

“It really set the mood for the rest of my camp,” Bhullar told Sportsnet. “Cormier was getting ready for his championship fight with [Jon Jones] at that time. So he had some guys in town that dipped into that training. Getting ready for a high profile fight like that it rubs off on everybody in the room. I’m grateful to be a part of that.”

Bhullar (6-0) battles Brazilian Luis Henrique (10-3, 1 NC) on the preliminary card at UFC 215 in Edmonton. The Simon Frasier alumnus customized his camp to fit every area, including brining in extra bodies like Unified MMA heavyweight champion Tanner Boser along with fellow Canadian standout Dustin Joynson.

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Bhullar vs. Henrique is now the only heavyweight matchup we’ll see at UFC 215. Initially this event featured former champ Junior dos Santos facing rising star Francis Ngannouu, however JDS was flagged by USADA for a potential doping violation. Bhullar mentioned he was never asked to fight Ngannouu on short notice, but did chime in on the work USADA is doing with the UFC. 

“I’m happy it happened because I’m such a big supporter of a clean sport,” Bhullar explained. “I’ve been tested over 10 years as an athlete. The way they do is the only way to do it — randomly throughout the year. That was a big decision in signing with the UFC. Now that it happened recently with Jon Jones I’m even happier there.”

A friend and teammate of Cormier, the Canadian also weighed in on Jones’s recent failed test.

“I’m a believer in DC’s theory that [Jones] has been on this for a long time,” Bhullar said. “He cycled off of the [Ovince Saint Preux] fight, then got back on it. If you watch Jon Jones and study him, he comes from a place of fear. The partying, the cocaine and this and that. That was a mask that was a way to deal with the internal conflicts he’s been dealing with for years. Same with this stuff. Once you take that stuff you can’t come off it and be the same mentally. There was no way he would have done it clean if he was on it before. And you know what? The truth is out there again.”

Bhullar has won three of his six career fights by knockout and has primarily competed for the B.C.-based Battlefield Fight League. The 2010 Commonwealth Games gold medallist will also be making history, becoming the first South Asian fighter to compete in the Octagon. A proud Canadian-Indian heavyweight, Bhullar also revealed that upwards of 200 people will be watching him live at Rogers Place including a WWE champion.

“Jinder Mahal will be making the walk with me to the cage. I’ve also got some other Bollywood stars coming out. We’re excited, we’re on point…We’re peaking at the right time. We’re just excited to let it loose there.”