If you happened to spot new MMA world champion Arjan Bhullar out for a drive in Richmond Saturday morning – just a couple of hours after his title fight win in Singapore – your eyes were not deceiving you.
And Bhullar hasn't invented a time machine and doesn’t own a speed of light aircraft.
In fact, Bhullar had just come out of a 14-day quarantine in his Richmond home, having flown back from Singapore, where his ONE Championship heavyweight world title fight was pre-recorded at the end of April and then broadcast in the early hours of Saturday.
However, as the former Canadian Olympic and Commonwealth wrestler had signed an NDA (non-disclosure agreement), only the closest members of his family knew that he had become a MMA world champion a couple of weeks ago.
“I let close family know, but warned them that absolutely could not tell anyone,” Bhullar told the Richmond News on Monday.
“It was probably the hardest things my family has ever had to do. I hope some people don’t get offended that I didn’t tell them.
“But some friends, who knew the fight was pre-recorded, were like ‘we know.’ They started guessing because of our behaviour and stuff like that.”
Now out and about and free as a bird to tell the world, the born-and-bred Richmondite is feeling great and excited to just be out of quarantine.
“I can finally celebrate it with the world. It was weird. But it means I’m able to celebrate it all over again,” he added.
“To be honest, though, the first thing I did was go for a drive after the fight aired. I just wanted some fresh air. I went by River Road.”
As a thank you for all the support Bhullar has received, before and after his world title win, he is hosting a drive-thru at the India Cultural Centre on No. 5 Road on Saturday, May 22 from 1 to 4 p.m.
“People are most welcome to come by and say hi, take a picture, I’ll be giving something away to anyone that comes along,” he said.
“We will do it safely, of course, but I still want to meet the fans and thank them for their support.”
For last Saturday’s big fight, where he took down reigning champion Brandon Vera, Bhullar was representing India, despite Canada being the country of his birth.
“I’m a born and raised Richmondite for sure and I’ve represented the maple leaf in the Commonwealth and Olympic games, but I had the opportunity to do this and I’ve always been a part of both worlds,” explained Bhullar.
“I’m very proud of my roots and the Indian culture. Plus, there was a lot of open racism back when my folks came to Canada and they weren’t able to openly celebrate their roots, at first. Now I can.
“There’s a promotional side to it for sure, but Canada has (its MMA stars), anything is possible here.
“In India, they don’t have that. Now they do; now they have someone who looks like them, talks like them.
“Now they realize they can go down this road. If I can trigger that, why wouldn’t I?
Bhullar said the reaction in India, and in his family’s home village, has been off the charts.
“Phenomenal. People there are realizing they can do it. People are always telling us we should be doctors and educated etc. Now they can fight,” said Bhullar.
“The plan was for this fight to be in Bombay last year, but we obviously had to change things up.
“I wanted to take the title straight to the village where my family comes from. But I saw the video of them celebrating; they were drinking and dancing and singing, it was amazing.”
Next stop for Bhullar is a possible showcase bout in the world of pro-wrestling, such as WWE, before taking on challengers for MMA world title.