Juan Archuleta has been stripped of his bantamweight championship after missing weight ahead of RIZIN 45.
RIZIN officials announced the news following Saturday’s official weigh-in. Archuleta missed the mark by nearly six pounds (63.80kg), leaving only opponent Kai Asakura eligible to win the now-vacant title. Should Archuleta win the bout — assuming it goes forward as planned — under the RIZIN Fighting Federation ruleset, it will be declared a No Contest.
It’s a stunning turn of events for “The Spaniard,” a former Bellator MMA champion who has never before missed weight. Archuleta (29-4) has won his last four fights and had been competing for RIZIN despite remaining under contract with Bellator. The fight with Asakura was to mark Archuleta’s first defense of his bantamweight title.
Juan Archuleta previously competed at featherweight, juggling both weight classes. He took part in the Bellator featherweight grand prix in 2019, but was bounced from the tournament in the opening round after losing to then-champ Patricio Pitbull.
On the regional circuit prior to joining Bellator, Archuleta found himself an unheard of quadruple champ in KOTC, winning the bantamweight, featherweight, lightweight, and light welterweight (165lb) titles.
RIZIN 45 is the last major event of 2023, with the promotion’s annual New Year’s Eve show always a big one. The card is headlined by Kyoji Horiguchi vs. Makoto Shinryu in a flyweight title fight. Juan Archuleta vs. Kai Asakura serves as the evening’s co-main event.