Richmond’s Arjan Bhullar will not only represent Canadians at UFC Fight Night on April 14, he will also pay homage to his faith. The first-ever Sikh fighter in the UFC will sport a turban as he enters the octagon.
The undefeated Bhullar (MMA 7-0, UFC 1-0) was denied the opportunity to wear his religious headgear during his debut fight last September when he took on Luis Henrique in Edmonton because UFC employees were unsure whether it would compromise the company’s apparel deal with Reebok, something that never crossed Bhullar’s mind.
“They didn’t know what the turban represented, what is was about, they didn’t know whether they can OK it or not, so the answer was ‘no’ for that event,” the heavyweight fighter said.
A couple of months ago, Bhullar got the go-ahead from the UFC to wear a turban for his pre-fight entrance. According to, the UFC’s legal team approached him and said they wanted to support his use of the turban going forward, with no Reebok emblem featured on it.
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Bhullar will square off against Adam Wieczorek at Glendale’s Gila River Arena on April 14, the same day Sikhs celebrate the religious event known as Vaisakhi.
“For him to wear it on April 14, on Vaisakhi, carries so much significance,” Hockey Night in Canada: Punjabi analyst Bhupinder Hundal said. “It will mean so much to an entire community.”
Bhullar is not the first fighter to wear headgear with cultural significance during a UFC event. Prior to his fights and during post-fight interviews, Khabib Nurmagomedov wears a papakha, a type of headgear native to his homeland of Dagestan, Russia.
Bhullar, however, won’t be the first to wear a turban in a North American athletic event. The turban has been part of WWE superstar Jinder Mahal’s attire for years.
On April 14, Bhullar will aim to knock down his opponent, and also knock down any stereotypes.
“I always try to represent, to be more than just an athlete, more than just your sport, I consider it selfish to be going in there and just fighting… So many people in my community have sacrificed for me to be in the position I’m at,” said Bhullar.
“I look forward to using this opportunity for the positive bettering our image, letting people know, and educating people.”