Unified MMA 38’s KB Bhullar: “You have no other choice but to be good at it if it’s consuming you that much”

KB Bhullar
KB Bhullar Credit: Unified MMA

KB Bhullar will be fighting for 185lb gold this weekend at Unified MMA 38, and we caught up with him ahead of the fight.

KB Bhullar takes on Matt Dwyer at Unified MMA 38. The two vie for the vacant middleweight championship on Friday, September 27. The River Cree Resort and Casino plays host to this 10th-anniversary event for Unified. The event emanates from that venue but will also be broadcast on FITE TV. This has been a long and winding path for KB Bhullar but he stands teetering on the precipice of achieving the kind of greatness that he has long been working for.

The Krahn fight

KB Bhullar is getting this title opportunity on the heels of his Cody Krahn fight. Bhullar was able to put on a comprehensive performance against by far his most experienced opponent to date. Speaking to Cageside Press, he said that “I kept having people whisper in my ears that Cody is gonna be very experienced. He’s going to put the pressure on me and how that I don’t have the same level of experience. I felt very confident in there and I just had to be the matador against the bull.”

The comeback

This run of recent success came after a hiatus where he got his post-secondary degree. When KB Bhullar returned to the competitive fold, he had found the landscape changed a fair bit. “Interestingly enough before my hiatus Unified was kind of like the low tier player in town,” he stated. “There was MFC, the AFC, World Series of Fighting, and Unified. They became the major player in western Canada, in my opinion.”

Bhullar continued, adding “I was having itchy knuckles for like three years just watching my teammates and the other competitors come up through the ranks.”

The comeback was at one point not a completely assured thing. KB Bhullar’s brother suffered quite a visceral injury where he needed surgery after his first fight. On that front, Bhullar admitted that “it was a very hard experience. When it happened, it was a tremendously damaging experience. It left a very sour taste in my mouth for the sport. I felt very lost for a while. I didn’t know what to do when the one thing I had been pursuing all my life just didn’t make sense to me anymore.”

“But in the end, the love came back. I had no other avenues in my life where I felt that kind of drive,” Bhullar continued. “I tried to find something else thinking that MMA wasn’t for me anymore. But in the end, it just kept calling to me.” Bhullar eventually came to the realization that this enamored feeling was something he needed to undulate with a little more. “You have no other choice but to be good at it if it’s consuming you that much,” he told us.

Boser wisdom

Another big part of Bhullar’s return was the impactful words of a long-time training partner and someone Bhullar also called a real good friend. Top Canadian heavyweight/ recent UFC signee Tanner Boser had a sobering talk with Bhullar that caused him to reflect immediately afterward.

“Tanner was coming up through the ranks and just becoming this monster heavyweight,” he said. “And Tanner approached me after training one day. I was talking about how much I was hating work and accounting and whatnot. He’s just like ‘what are you doing, man? You have so much potential. It’s still there and you’re just wasting it’ and him saying that to me, I just had this moment.”

That moment resulted in KB quitting his accounting job to pursue MMA with full vigor. The return has resulted in a three-fight winning streak, all finishes, that have now netted him a shot at significant hardware.

Matt Dwyer at Unified MMA 38

When we spoke, KB Bhullar was readying himself to fight his next “stiffest test he’s ever seen.” The Matt Dwyer fight is one Bhullar takes quite seriously but he can’t help but notice similar rhetoric from pundits coming up ahead of this cage foray.

“I think a lot of people like to chalk it up to experience. They always like to use experience against me like I’m some inexperienced amateurish fighter,” he said. “Matt Dwyer has plenty UFC level experience. He’s fought a lot of high-level guys. Matt’s got a tall, long frame. So I’m excited to take that challenge of fighting that guy with a similar frame. He’s very tough. He’s a warrior.”

Appreciating Accomplishments without Resting on Laurels

The goal of holding Unified gold is something Bhullar expressly mapped out when he announced his MMA return. Bhullar conveyed a lot of candor in describing how he’s feeling ahead of actualizing a goal into reality. He said, “I just set that fucking goal, man and I know I’m going to do it. I put myself on the trajectory to be able to do it. I said at the beginning of this year, when I made my return into MMA that I wanted to win a national title and now it’s all just shaping up to this.”

Bhullar has had an impressive run of competitive successes starting with the 2007 Capitol City Championships. As that accomplishment was brought up to Bhullar, he stated “that was honestly one of the most memorable achievements. You know when you’re like a kid and you win something big? Or at least in your head it’s big.”

Bhullar continued, saying that “my coach Pedro said something to me the other day that kind of stuck. He said, ‘As a fighter in order to get better you have to let your successes kind of die each time they’re done. Enjoy them for a little bit but don’t cling onto them.’ The same thing on a micro-scale even in a fight. Let’s say you have one single technique that’s working for you, don’t get stuck on that one thing and think that’s going to end the fight. You have to let that shit go.”

Shaved Bears

KB Bhullar isn’t the only member of the Shaved Bears team looking for Unified MMA gold this Friday. Graham Park takes on Sheldon Doll and Christian Larsen takes on Jared Kilkenny as Park and Larsen look to return those belts back to the Shaved Bears camp.

“When there’s a common goal, a common objective in the room, you just see the teammates rally together,” Bhullar said of the situation. “Everybody’s working hard. Everyone has that championship in mind. Nothing but good things.”

At Unified MMA 37, the card where Bhullar defeated Krahn, the Shaved Bears went on a 7-0 run. As much as MMA is an individual sport, there’s a lot of teamwork dynamics that exist, especially in situations like this. Bhullar said, “it just speaks volumes to the fact that guys care about each other. They’re willing to as a team put our egos aside and do what needs to be done to help the others win. If the guys are sparring the intensity is high but they’re not trying to hurt each other.”

Beyond intensive fight preparations, Bhullar also seems to be looking to make a heel turn at Unified MMA 38.  “I want to come out to a country song just to piss off every Indian person that comes out to my fights,” he claimed. “I think I’d come out to Scarecrow in the Garden by Chris Stapleton. I’d come out to that and just watch as everyone goes “Why?””

Special titles

The Shaved Bears all seem to have their unique accolades outside of the martial arts sphere. Tanner Boser is the claw machine GOAT, Neal Anderson is the donair king, etc. When I asked Bhullar about what his unique distinction is, he eventually stated, “I’m the poutine prince.”

The poutine prince looks to become Unified MMA’s new middleweight king. His chance comes about when he gets locked in the cage with Matt Dwyer in Enoch, Alberta this Friday. If you can’t be there live and in-person at the River Cree Resort and Casino, you can peep Unified MMA 38 on the FITE TV broadcast.