Juan Archuleta will open the Bellator featherweight grand prix with a title shot against Patricio Pitbull, but even as a fan, ‘The Spaniard’ is excited for the tournament
Los Angeles, CA — After eighteen consecutive wins, Juan Archuleta has finally earned himself a title shot. While it’s not the 135lb title shot he was campaigning for, ‘The Spaniard’ entering the Bellator featherweight grand prix to fight Patricio Pitbull in the opening round isn’t exactly a surprise.
Archuleta has moved back and forth rather fluidly between weight classes. He’s a threat in either division. And he’ll look to prove that at Bellator 228 in September, at the Forum in Los Angeles.
Here’s to hoping Pitbull hasn’t taken a detour before then. At the Bellator 226/228 media day in Los Angeles this week, the Brazilian 145 and 155lb champ wound up in confrontations with a couple of rivals, mainly Darrion Caldwell and A.J. McKee.
Archuleta can’t even leave the room, apparently. “I had to go do an interview outside and I walk in, they say ‘hey these other guys are trying to take your fight!'”
But the surging title challenger knows “it’s the world’s best in this room right now. The environment’s crazy, the excitement’s real. Being in this room right now, you can’t help but know you’re in the world’s best tournament right now.”
That’s exactly the sort of environment that should get fans hyped up for the grand prix, which kicks off at Bellator 226 in San Jose, and continues a few weeks later at Bellator 228.
Again, while Archuleta’s inclusion in the tournament isn’t a surprise (we called it back in February), it’s not the title fight he was originally looking for. Archuleta petitioned to fight dual-promotion champ Kyoji Horiguchi after defeating former champ Eduardo Dantas at Bellator 222 last month. Very quickly, however, he learned it wasn’t happening. In fact, the news came “that night, after the media. They said that he didn’t want the fight, that I had to take the tournament fight, be in the tournament. I said alright, give me Patricio [Pitbull] first, and you got yourself a deal. And that was the deal we struck.”
“There’s no other way to start this tournament really,” Archuleta later added. “There’s really not. With me and Patricio, it’s starting off with a bang with both of the momentum we have going on right now.”
Looking at grand prix field, “everyone’s a great fighter. There’s no easy fight, just in general. Everyone has a title fight the first round. Everyone that’s in this tournament should be the champion, could be the champion, will be the champion. Right now I don’t think it’s about the belt anymore from this point on, until the last person’s in that final slot.”
That’s why Archuleta wanted Pitbull first, rather than pining for some grandiose final round showdown. Because “it’s not about the belt. It’s more than the belt. This tournament is not about the title fight, it’s not about “oh I got the title fight,” no, f*ck that. It’s about being the best featherweight in Bellator right now.” So, take the title first and run with it, in other words. Pile up the defenses.
As for other pairings, “everyone in this tournament’s a dream match-up. You go down the line being a fan of MMA, I see it, and I’m just like ‘man I want to watch these fights.’ And I will watch these fights, of course. It’s just an awesome thing that Bellator put together, and it’s one of a kind, for sure.”
Bellator 228 takes place September 28, 2019 at the Forum in Los Angeles, CA.