The 33-year-old Spanish and Mexican American mixed martial artist, who has stayed mostly under the radar during a successful run that extends back half a decade, scored his highest-profile win in the main event of Bellator 246, defeating previously unbeaten Patchy Mix by unanimous decision to earn the vacant bantamweight championship.
Archuleta (25-2) has won 19 of his past 20 bouts; his only loss during the run was a decision loss to two-division champion Patricio Freire a year ago. Freire, known as “Pitbull,” was defending his featherweight belt that night in the first round of the Bellator World Grand Prix tournament.
But now Archuleta finally wears a belt.
Two judges scored Saturday’s bout 48-47 and the other had it 49-46.
“Oh, my God,” Archuleta told Bellator’s John McCarthy in his post-fight interview inside the cage. “My family, John, they deserve this. My teammates, they deserve this, man. My country, Spain, where my ancestors come from, the fighting Spaniards, the conquistadors, they deserve this. They have fighting spirit. It shows in me.”
Archuleta, fighting out of Hesperia, California, had a rough first round and a half as Mix, who had finishes in each of his first three Bellator fights, repeatedly seized dominant grappling positions, threatening finishes.
But Archuleta persevered. He took control in Round 3 with body shots complemented by slick footwork. That kept him at long range, where Mix could no longer make the fight a grappling contest. For the rest of the fight, Archuleta was consistently first in launching strikes, and his incessant movement left Mix (13-1), a 27-year-old fighting out of Albuquerque, New Mexico, often swinging at air.
In Round 5, Archuleta sealed the deal, slowing Mix with a relentless attack of body punches. That secured for Archuleta a Bellator bantamweight title that had been vacant since Kyoji Horiguchi surrendered the championship last November while recovering from an injury.
The Brazilian mixed martial artist and Bellator welterweight champion will move up to middleweight to fight Gegard Mousasi for the vacant middleweight title as the main event for a card on October 29 at Mohegan Sun.
Lima (32-7) has won three straight and is a three-time Bellator welterweight champion. He’s tied for the most knockouts in Bellator history (9).
Mousasi (46-7-2) has won nine of his past 10, including five straight in the UFC before he left as a free agent in 2017. The 35-year-old Netherlands resident, a former Strikeforce and Dream champion, has been a perennial contender in multiple divisions for more than a decade.
Cyborg has won two straight after losing the UFC women’s featherweight title to Amanda Nunes at UFC 232 in December 2018.
Cyborg departed the UFC after her contract expired last year. She’s one of the most fearsome women’s MMA fighters of all time with 18 KO/TKO finishes in 22 pro wins.
Blencowe (13-7) has won three straight and is coming off a unanimous decision win over UFC veteran Leslie Smith last November. The Australia native has just two MMA losses in the past five years, both to Budd. Blencowe, a 37-year-old boxing veteran, has seven KO/TKOs in 13 pro wins.
The 26-year-old Puerto Rican and Mexican American mixed martial artist, the younger brother of former UFC champion Anthony Pettis, defeated Ricky Bandejas via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27) this weekend in the bantamweight main event of Bellator 242.
Bellator, the second-most prominent MMA promotion in the U.S. after the UFC, hadn’t held an event since February 22 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The card took place at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut, overseen by the Mohegan Tribe Department of Athletic Regulation.
COVID-19 protocols were implemented, including multiple coronavirus tests and the keeping of fighters, corners and staff within a kind of bubble at the Mohegan Sun resort and casino.
The original Bellator 242 main event was supposed to be a bout for the bantamweight title between Juan Archuleta and Patrick Mix, but Archuleta withdrew. The expectation is that bout will be rebooked for the belt.
During his fight, Pettis put himself in the No. 1 contender conversation. He had an economical performance against Bandejas, outstriking the taller man and piling on the calf kicks through the first two rounds. At one point, Bandejas seemed to lose his footing due to the damage caused by those repeated kicks to the lower part of his left leg.
In the third round, both men opened up. Pettis wasn’t content to cruise to a decision and put forth several flashy techniques, clearly looking for a knockout. Pettis threw spinning kicks, and Bandejas came back with some of his own, including a wheel kick to the head that was just barely blocked by Pettis. Pettis threw another spinning kick with seconds remaining that narrowly missed as well.
Pettis (20-5) has won three straight, including his first two in Bellator. The Milwaukee native left the UFC as a free agent last year with a 9-5 record in the organization, going back and forth between flyweight and bantamweight. Pettis owns a victory over Joseph Benavidez, who just fought for the UFC flyweight title last weekend in Abu Dhabi.
Bandejas (13-4) had a two-fight winning streak snapped. The New Jersey native propelled himself up the Bellator bantamweight ladder in 2018 when he stunningly knocked out Conor McGregor protégé James Gallagher. Bandejas, 28, trains out of the vaunted American Top Team in Florida.
The 34-year-old Brazilian mixed martial artist, better known as Cris Cyborg, has signed with Bellator MMA after a three-year run with the Ultimate Fighting Championship ( UFC).
One of the best women’s fighters in the history of the sport is now under a multiyear, multi-bout contract with Bellator, promotion president Scott Coker announced via Twitter. Coker wrote that it was the biggest contract ever given to a women’s MMA fighter.
Cyborg accompanied Bellator’s announcement with a video message to her fans on Facebook.
“My goal is to become the only female fighter to hold four different major titles in the same division,” said Cyborg, who has already held the women’s featherweight title in the UFC, Strikeforce and Invicta FC.
The final fight on Cyborg’s UFC contract came against Felicia Spencer at UFC 240 in July, a bout Cyborg won via unanimous decision.
The fighter and UFC president Dana Whitehave had a long history of butting heads, and White said in the aftermath of that bout the UFC was out of the Cyborg business. The UFC waived its 90-day exclusive negotiating window with the Brazilian knockout artist, making her a free agent.
Cyborg, who is No. 3 pound-for-pound among women in ESPN‘s MMA rankings, won the UFC women’s featherweight title by beating Tonya Evinger by third-round TKO at UFC 214 in July 2017. She dropped the belt to Amanda Nunes, also the UFC’s women’s bantamweight champ, at UFC 232 last December via first-round knockout. That defeat was Cyborg’s first in 13 years, since her pro MMA debut in 2005.
From 2005 until 2018, Cyborg was the most dominating and fearsome force in women’s mixed martial arts. Justino went undefeated and won 17 of 20 victories by finish. Cyborg has beaten the likes of Holly Holm, Marloes Coenen and Gina Carano. Historically, she has also been one of the best-known women’s MMA fighters in the world, drawing solid numbers on television and pay-per-view.
“I have worked with countless athletes over my 30-plus years of promoting combat sports, but there is no one quite like Cyborg,” said Coker, who promoted Justino with Strikeforce. “Her ability to excite the crowd from the moment she makes her walk to the cage is special, and having had the pleasure of promoting several of her fights in the past, I am looking forward to the opportunity of promoting her once again. Cyborg is the most dominant female fighter in the history of the sport and she will be a perfect fit here at Bellator, where champion Julia Budd and the other women that make up best female featherweight division in the world have eagerly awaited her arrival.”
Cyborg was brought into the UFC in 2016 at a catchweight of 140 pounds. She had competed previously at 145 pounds, a more natural weight. The idea at the time was to set up a fight between Cyborg and Ronda Rousey, but it never materialized. Cyborg was too big to get down to Rousey’s 135-pound weight class and Rousey departed the UFC later in 2016.
Cyborg and the UFC had an embattled relationship even before Cyborg was under contract. In 2014, White infamously made fun of Cyborg for her appearance at an MMA awards show, saying she looked like male fighter Wanderlei Silva in a dress. Cyborg took it as White saying she looked like a man; White has said that he was making a comment on Cyborg’s past history with performance-enhancing drugs. Cyborg tested positive for a steroid and was stripped of her Strikeforce title in 2011.
After Nunes beat Cyborg last December, White repeatedly said Cyborg didn’t want a rematch, which Cyborg vehemently denied. Meanwhile, Cyborg said she felt the UFC never truly built out a women’s featherweight division in which she could compete, which was a valid criticism.
On Ariel Helwani’s MMA Show in July, Cyborg said she wanted a public apology from White as a condition of her re-signing with the UFC.
“Of course, he has to apologize,” Justino said. “I think he has family, he has kids. … I don’t know if he has a heart, but I think one thing he’s doing is not just touching me, because he doesn’t like me. He’s touching the people around me, he’s touching my family. It’s not right.”
The rocky relationship came to an end in earnest after UFC 240 when Cyborg’s team posted a doctored video online that inaccurately quoted White in subtitles while talking to Cyborg backstage in Edmonton, Alberta. Cyborg apologized on social media, but White said in an interview on the UFC’s YouTube channel that the promotion was done with Cyborg.
“I’m going to release her from her contract and I will not match any offers [she receives],” White said. “She is free and clear to go to Bellator or any of these other promotions and fight these easy fights she wants. Done. Done deal. I will literally, today, have my lawyer draft a letter to [Justino’s team saying] that she is free and clear.”
In the Bellator release announcing her signing, it makes note of the promotion’s healthy women’s featherweight division, including Budd, who has won 11 straight.
The 41-year-old Brazilian former submission grappler and current mixed martial artist will fight Ben Askren in the main event of UFC Singapore on October 26, according to ESPN.
Askren tweeted earlier this week that the fight was a done deal.
Maia’s background is in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, and he’s one of the best ever to utilize that martial art in MMA. He’s a former Abu Dhabi Combat Club grappling champion and International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation Pan Americantitleholder.
Askren is a former Olympicwrestler and two-time NCAA Division I wrestling champion at Missouri.
Both Askren and Maia are known for their phenomenal ground games.
Maia (27-9) has won two in a row and nine of his past 12. He’s coming off a majority decision win over Anthony Rocco Martin at UFC Minneapolis in June. Maia is a former UFC welterweight and middleweight title challenger with wins over the likes of Masvidal, Carlos Condit and Chael Sonnen.
Askren (19-1, 1 NC) was undefeated in MMA until he was knocked out in five seconds by Jorge Masvidal at UFC 239last month. He’s a former Bellator and ONE Championship welterweight champion.
Askren was acquired by the UFCvia trade with ONE Championship for Demetrious Johnson last year and quickly made a name for himself with his quick-witted trash talk.