Arjan Bhullar is wearing his turban to UFC on FOX 29: ‘Embrace that uniqueness and ability to stand out’
Arjan Bhullar made his UFC debut seven months ago and hasn’t fought inside the octagon since. He raised a lot of dust by insisting on wearing his turban to the stage.
“I know what I signed up for, and I know what I want in my life,” Bhullar told MMAjunkie on Wednesday. “So you make it happen. The UFC has 500 fighters; that’s their priority. I’m my own priority. I have to take care of myself. Every fight, every moment we can maximize, we’re going to do that. Every fight is historic. Every fight is significant.
“It might not be to the UFC brass until you’re at the title. But on the way there, it’s equally significant to the ones who mean the most to me and to me.”
Bhullar is to fight at the upcoming UFC on FOX 29 and he also will walk to the cage wearing a turban. He was initially denied wearing it for his UFC debut on the grounds that it violated the promotion’s athlete-outfitting policy with Reebok.
“That ask had never been brought forward before, and that’s all it really was,” Bhullar said. “That’s exactly what this opportunity is about. It’s about that education, to let people know – especially in the U.S. – what the turban is. Don’t fear it, baby. Embrace it. It’s all good. We’re a people that’s very open.”
What makes the turban so important to Bhullar and wearing it during his octagon walk is how significant it is to the Sikh belief system.
“We are connected as a people. (The turban) was to embrace your uniqueness, to stand out,” Bhullar said. “When I go talk to kids in schools, that’s what I tell them – is to embrace that uniqueness and ability to stand out. Usually at that age you want to fit in, and you want to be like everybody else. The fact is, I look different. I eat different food. I speak a different language. And that’s OK. …
“A champion stands out because they’re different. There’s only one champion. Same deal.”
“Connecting East and West, man,” he said. “And it hasn’t been done yet. I’m happy to be that bridge. That was a conversation right after the Olympics with both WWE and the UFC. It was that they needed that athlete to be that bridge – the Yao Ming for what he did for the NBA, if you will. Every major sport is wanting that 1 billion-plus fan base. The UFC’s got their guy and has the jump on any other sport now. So I’m excited for that, and it’s a natural fit.
“You can’t go out to India and be smashing buses and expect to connect with fans. It’s about humility. It’s about respect. It’s about honor. That’s the Asian way; that’s the way I was raised.”