Juan Archuleta is officially a world titleholder…
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.