Brandon Vera ends five-year reign as ONE heavyweight champion

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Photo courtesy: ONE Championship

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 15) – Filipino American mixed martial arts sensation Brandon Vera ended his five-year reign as the world heavyweight champion of ONE Championship.

Vera absorbed a second-round technical knockout defeat against Canada-born Indian fighter Arjan Bhullar in "ONE Championship: Dangal" held at the Singapore Indoor Stadium.

The 43-year-old Vera showed his aggressiveness in the first round through a flurry of leg kicks and strong body shots against Bhullar.

Bhullar started to target Vera's feet and evading his counter shots, which signaled the momentum change in favor of the Indian MMA specialist.

At the first minute of the second round, Bhullar connected with a clean overhand right against Vera that rocked the defending champion.

Bhullar finished Vera with a body shot and a couple of strikes that sent the Filipino down to the canvas. The Indian continued to pounce on the defenseless Vera, which caused referee Justin Brown to stop the fight at the 4:27 mark.

With the win, Bhullar became India's first MMA champion and improved his slate to 11-1-0 with four knockouts.

Vera held the heavyweight crown since December 2015, when he knocked out Paul Cheng in "ONE Championship: Spirit of Champions."

The Filipino American MMA veteran suffered his second straight loss in ONE Championship after losing to Burmese fighter Aung La Nsang, also via second-round TKO in October 2019. They contested the ONE light heavyweight belt, vacated by Roger Gracie due to retirement. La Nsang lost the crown to Reinier De Ridder in a unanimous decision last April 28.

Vera now has a 16-9-0 win-loss-draw record with 11 knockouts.