Long Beach, CA — Former bantamweight champ Juan Archuleta returned to the win column at Bellator 286, snapping a two-fight skid with a decision win over TUF: Latin America winner Enrique Barzola.
“It’s been very unfortunate, my last two fights because I’ve been working so damn hard trying to stay on top. These last few months I’ve been really scolded, moulded, belittled, told what I’m doing wrong over and over every day,” Archuleta (26-4) told Cageside Press following the win, speaking during the Bellator 286 post-fight press conference at the Long Beach Arena. “But I’m very fortunate to have that, because to be uncomfortable in those situations in practice, not many people could do it and I see them leave the workout room every day. And it brought me back to the workout room every day thanks to Tiki Ghosn and Paul Herrera just constantly on my ass about being perfect, being perfect, being perfect.”
The quest for perfection, “it showed a little bit tonight,” continued Archuleta. “Obviously it didn’t show all the way because obviously I didn’t get the finish I wanted, but I was trying. I was trying to go out there, and Enrique’s a tough motherf*cker, man, and he took some bombs. His head, his neck was a good size so I couldn’t slap that choke in on him, so props to him.”
So what comes next for Juan Archuleta? Getting back in the grand prix is a possibility. The bantamweight grand prix is ongoing, after all. There’s also his legacy to be concerned with.
“Obviously the biggest competitions out there are what I strive for, and I want to make my legacy here in Bellator. When people start recognizing my name and they see me at fights and see me socially, they know I’m a Bellator fighter and I’ve made my career here. I’m homegrown now, and I’m proud to represent the Bellator banner.”
In terms of the tournament, there’s a possibility that a fighter like Magomed Magomedov may be impacted by Russia bringing back the draft to fuel its ongoing invasion of Ukraine. Archuleta believes the fight with Barzola at the very least was an unofficial back-up bout.
“I think that’s what this fight was, it was like a midway point just for one of us [Archuleta and Barzola] to get the win, and then to step in. It’s like the halfway mark. Maybe that’s what it was, or maybe they did get an okay for Magomedov to come in. Who knows.”
“Either way, I’m ready for December, I’m ready for January, ready for February, hell I’m ready for Italy [later this month] if it presents itself.”
Watch the full Bellator 286 post-fight press conference with Juan Archuleta above.