ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates — England’s Tom Breese spoiled Canadian K.B. (The Bengal) Bhullar’s UFC debut Saturday, handing the Edmonton middleweight his first pro loss on a televised Fight Night card.
Bhullar (8-1-0) had finished six of his previous fights in the first round. This time, he was the one that exited early.
Bhullar, who walked out to Bob Seger’s “Night Moves,” absorbed a couple of big lefts to the head early in the first round. And he went down after taking a powerful right jab to the face one minute 40 seconds into the round.
A half-dozen hammer-fists to the head later, the fight was over at the 1:42 mark.
Brazil’s (Magic) Marlin Moraes, ranked No. 1 among bantamweight contenders, faced No. 4 Cory Sandhagen in the main event of the televised Fight Night card at the Flash Forum on Yas Island — which the UFC has dubbed Fight Island.
Bhullar was a late replacement, stepping in Roman Kopylov after the Russian tested positive for COVID-19.
The 28-year-old from Edmonton was initially slated to fight on Dana White’s Contender Series in June. Then the pandemic pushed it back first to September and then November before he was given a UFC contract directly without having to appear on the feeder circuit.
The Breese fight was originally scheduled for Oct. 3, which only gave Bhullar five days notice. Then it was delayed a week, to allow for the proper quarantines — first in Las Vegas and then in Abu Dhabi.
Bhullar, who stands six foot four and cuts down to 185 pounds for bouts, trains with Alberta’s Tanner (The Bulldozer) Boser, ranked 15th among UFC heavyweight contenders. Boser was in his corner Saturday.
Bhullar was coming off a decision win over former UFC fighter Matt Dwyer in September 2019 for the 185-pound title in the Alberta-based Unified MMA promotion.
Bhullar took time out from his MMA career after watching younger brother Kenny sustain severe facial damage in a 2014 amateur fight. K.B. went back to school and got a job in accounting. But at the behest of his brother, he returned to MMA with a fight in December 2018.
Breese, (12-2-0 and 5-2-0 in the UFC,) was coming off a TKO loss in February to Brendan (All In) Allen.
Saturday marked just his third bout since June 2016. Breese, who has openly discussed his past problems with anxiety, suffered torn knee ligaments in 2017, the same year he was declared medically unfit on the eve of a fight with Oluwale Bamgbose.
Breese previously trained at Montreal’s Tristar Gym.