Uncasville, CT — Bellator crowned a new bantamweight champion Friday at Bellator 258, as Sergio Pettis out-duelled Juan Archuleta for the better part of five rounds, earning a unanimous decision win — and his first major title.
With that settled, the question of who gets the first crack at the new champ is an interesting one. Patchy Mix lost to Archuleta not too long ago for the vacant title. Archuleta just lost the belt to Pettis, and nothing about the fight warrants an immediate rematch.
Magomed Magomedov, Rafaeon Stots, and James Gallagher remain possibilities — but a more tantalizing option would be Kyojij Horiguchi, the former Bellator bantamweight champ forced to vacate the title in 2019 due to a knee injury.
Another RIZIN crossover is a possibility, Bellator President Scott Coker told media outlets including Cageside Press backstage at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, CT on Friday.
“The only reason why we’re not working together right now is because of COVID, to be honest,” stated Coker. “Once that situation kind of goes away, I definitely see a light at the end of the tunnel. Then we’ll start working together at some point I’m sure. We’ll check in from time to time with [RIZIN FF CEO Nobuyuki] Sakakibara to see where he’s at, but we’d love to have Horiguchi come and fight Pettis at some point.”
Horiguchi returned to action in December, finishing rival Kai Asakura to reclaim the RIZIN bantamweight championship.
In the meantime, Coker observed that his own, newly crowned champion fought a smart fight at Bellator 258.
“I think he had a good strategy, and Juan seemed like he had a hard time holding him down, keeping him down,” noted Coker. “He couldn’t grind him out, and it became a striking contest, and Sergio was more effective in striking.”
Coker also addressed Michael “Venom” Page, who picked up a big win over Derek Anderson Friday night. With a quality win over a gritty opponent, can we do away with the “MVP fights cans” narrative, perhaps?
“That I never understood. People give him a bad time online, and I’m thinking to myself, ‘this guy is such a highly skilled mixed martial arts athlete,’ and has a traditional karate background, which you saw today,” responded Coker. “And it’s very effective. And people give him a bad time, and I never understood it. He’s fought some of the world’s best, he fought Douglas Lima, as a title holder, I think it was the semifinals [of the welterweight grand prix] in Chicago. And yeah, he got caught, but Douglas Lima told me, he said ‘Coker, that guy hit me, and he hurt me.'” MVP is one of the few people who have hurt Lima, Coker added.
Page “is explosive, he’s fast, he’s got a lot of power, he can knock people out. He’s a dangerous guy for anybody, because his style is so unorthodox.” And a title fight could be on the horizon.
“I think he deserves a title shot. So let’s see what happens with the Lima fight.”
Watch the full Bellator 258 post-fight press conference with Scott Coker above.