If there’s one word to describe this fight, it’s massive.
Edmonton’s own KB Bhullar (7-0) will look to become the new Unified MMA middleweight champion when he shares the cage with the toughest test of his career in Kelowna’s Matt Dwyer (11-5) Friday night at Unified 38 in Edmonton, Alta.
The middleweight title was vacated when former champion and Bhullar’s teammate Teddy Ash got the call for Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series.
Bhullar, 27, said he’s excited to compete for what he believes is Unified’s most esteemed belt, and hopes to keep it with his team, Shaved Bears MMA.
“With a champion like Teddy and the way the division has been in the past, I feel it’s Unified’s most prestigious division. It’s just had the most prolific fights,” said Bhullar in an interview.
“A champion like Teddy, a guy that’s as experienced and celebrated of a fighter as he is, it’s an honour to be able to fight for that belt. Ultimately, I want to do my duty of keeping the belt with The Bears.”
Dwyer, 29, will be the toughest test of Bhullar’s career, having competed with some of the toughest middleweights in the world during his tenure with the UFC, including Alan Jouban and Albert Tumenov.
With the level of competition he’s faced so far in his career and with Bhullar yet to be truly tested, Dwyer said his experience with the tougher competition will play a factor if the fight reaches the later rounds.
“When you get into those deep waters, if we end of making it that far, that’s where my experience will really show,” said Dwyer in an interview.
“He just hasn’t been up against anyone as tough as me and has what I bring to the table. But with that being said, I’m not taking this guy lightly at all. I’m treating him like he’s the best fighter in the world, but I plan on giving him a taste of what it’s like when you step up and fight with the upper echelon.”
Don’t Doubt Bhullar
Bhullar is coming off a first round TKO win over his then toughest test Cody Krahn at Unified 37, an opponent Bhullar said a lot of people were saying would pose problems for him.
While this title shot is certainly the most significant outcome of his win over Krahn, Bhullar said his biggest takeaway from the contest was people shouldn’t doubt him.
“People shouldn’t doubt my capabilities. I felt in that fight a lot of people were stating that Cody was a much more experienced fighter, they were saying they felt he was better on the feet than me, and that he was going to put me in my place,” said Bhullar.
“That just put that chip on my shoulder and I carried that in with me.”
If there’s one guarantee heading into any Bhullar fight, it’s the enormous contingent of fans he has that blow the roof off the venue.
Bhullar said fighting in front of a massive fanbase is nothing new to him. He said no matter where or when he fights, his fans, friends and family follow.
“It’s crazy because it’s all I’ve ever known. Even when I fought out of town, my friends and family would come with me. That wonderful love and support is really all I’ve known,” said Bhullar.
“There’s no energy in the regional MMA scene like a KB Bhullar fight. It’s f**king insane; it’s so loud. Backstage, as I’m getting my hands wrapped and they make an announcement, I can feel the floor rumbling. It lets you know you’re alive.”
Improved Mental Game
Dwyer enters Friday night’s matchup coming off a majority decision loss to Chris Curtis at Fight Night 9, in what was a bloody war and one of Western Canada’s best fights of the year.
While the loss was a tough one to swallow, Dwyer said he learned he really needed to work on his mental game.
“I have to not put so much pressure on myself. I was beat physically and mentally going into that fight, and also had an injury. The mental game started to get weak and I kind of felt like a loser before I even went in there,” said Dwyer.
“I’ve now learned to just take it easy, no pressure, and be a lot more relaxed. It’s pretty much just go in, put in the work, trust the process, clock in and clock out. This kind of approach has me feeling very good, mentally and physically.”
Out of his 11-career victories, Dwyer has finished nine of them, all by way of knockout or TKO, which includes a highlight-reel superman punch knockout of William Macario at UFC Fight Night 61.
Dwyer said he’s fully expecting to hand Bhullar his first loss and sees it happening by way of his tenth knockout.
“I have a really good feeling I’m going to beat him by knockout or TKO,” said Dwyer.
“If I come out there and I see what I see, I’m going to know exactly what I’m going to do. I couldn’t really care less what he brings or what he’s going to be doing. All I know is I’m going to find my targets and I’m going to land my shots.”
“I’d like to thank all my coaches and teammates at Toshido MMA, specifically David Lea because without him there would be no MMA presence like there is in Kelowna.” Follow Dwyer on social media: FACEBOOK, TWITTER, INSTAGRAM