Bellator’s Juan Archuleta Faces UFC Vet Naoki Inoue at RIZIN 42

Juan Archuleta Bellator
Juan Archuleta, Bellator 277/279 Press Conference, Los Angeles Credit: Alex Behunin/Cageside Press

Former Bellator MMA bantamweight champion Juan Archuleta has been granted leave to hunt for a title in Japanese promotion RIZIN.

Archuleta will face UFC and RIZIN veteran Naoki Inoue at RIZIN 42 on May 6, 2023, promotion officials announced Monday.

“The Spaniard” confirmed the booking, which will see him continue to represent Bellator, as he did at the Bellator MMA vs. RIZIN cross-promotion on New Year’s Eve.

“Your boy got contracted to go handle some over seas business in the land of the rising Sun!” Archuleta wrote on social media in response to the news. “I can’t wait this will continue my legacy to have won a title in every organization I fought for!”

Bellator CEO Scott Coker offered a message of encouragement to Archuleta. “Wishing you good luck on your journey to win the RIZIN belt in 2023. Train hard and make Bellator MMA proud!”

Archuleta (27-4) went 2-1 in 2022, losing an interim title fight against Raufeon Stots as part of the promotion’s bantamweight grand prix before bouncing back with wins over Enrique Barzola and Soo Chul Kim. The Kim win, a split decision, took place at the Saitama Super Arena outside Tokyo on New Year’s Eve, where Bellator MMA went 5-0 against RIZIN in head-to-head match-ups.

Inoue (18-3) also appeared on New Year’s Eve, on the RIZIN 40 portion of the card, where he defeated Kenta Takizawa by submission. One year prior, he had made it to the final of RIZIN’s own bantamweight grand prix, only to be eliminated by Hiromasa Ougikubo.

RIZIN 42 takes place May 6, 2023 at the Ariake Arena in Tokyo, Japan.