Kicking off the main card of Bellator 286 this evening was a big time battle in the bantamweight division. Former bantamweight champion Juan Archuleta (25-4) was looking to snap a two-fight losing streak as he took on Enrique Barzola (18-6-2).
Barzola had a pretty decent run in the UFC prior to making the jump to Bellator. Since making that jump, he was 2-1 but his biggest test was coming this evening as he was taking on the slumping former champion.
As mentioned, Archuleta had lost two fights in a row leading up to tonight. After going on an incredible run to capture the bantamweight title, he fell short against Sergio Pettis and Raufeon Stots prior to this battle with Barzola. This was a huge fight for Archuleta to try and right the ship.
Bellator 286 Recap
The Bellator 286 contest kicked off with a touch of the gloves. Immediate combination from Archuleta who lands a big right hand. Takedown attempt from Archuleta is shrugged off from Barzola. Another clean combination from Archuleta who is really getting the better of the striking.
This opening minute is all Archuleta. Huge uppercut from Archuleta. Another big right hand from Archuleta and Barzola is already wearing the damage. Takedown attempt from Archuleta and he gets the back of Barzola. Archuleta is all over Barzola here.
Barzola is able to get back to his feet and he backs away. However, he’s holding the center here and Archuleta is circling on the outside. They clinch and Barzola lands a couple of nice uppercuts. Huge low kick from Archuleta and he follows with a straight right.
Nice jab lands for Archuleta. Sensational combination from Archuleta and he hurt Barzola with a left hand. Barzola still there and still coming forward. Now it’s Barzola who shoots for a takedown. Archuleta is defending but gets slammed to the mat by Barzola.
Archuleta tries to force a scramble but gives up his back. Archuleta gets back to his feet, but Barzola is still holding onto him here. Nice work from Barzola who now goes for a rear naked choke. He’s too high and Archuleta shrugs him off and lands nice shots to close the first. Solid opening frame at Bellator 286 and it’s one for Archuleta.
Entering the second and it’s clear where both men will have success in this one. They touch gloves and here we go. Archuleta lands a nice 1-2 as Barzola tries to shoot. Lots of pressure here from Barzola as Archuleta is staying light on his feet.
Takedown attempt from Barzola and Archuleta shrugs him off. Nice jab from Archuleta and Barzola lands a nice left hook. Now it’s Archuleta who shoots for a takedown and he gets it briefly. Scramble from Barzola and they are back striking.
Heavy pressure from Barzola who lands a nice left. Another takedown attempt from Archuleta and he gets it. They are up against the fence and Barzola is trying to use it to get back to his feet. Barzola forces a scramble and gets back to his feet.
Another takedown attempt from Archuleta, but Barzola keeps it standing. Barzola is really upping the pressure here. Another takedown attempt from Archuleta who is relentless with takedown attempts all of a sudden. Archuleta gets him down briefly, but immediately Barzola bounces back up.
Barzola reverses the clinch and now has Archuleta against the fence. Archuleta reverses to regain the controlling position. The round comes to a close and it was a good one.
Entering the third at Bellator 286 and I think Enrique Barzola needs a finish here. They touch gloves and here we go for the third. Body kick from Archuleta. Lots of pressure from Barzola and both men are just trading here. Big takedown attempt from Juan Archuleta and he gets it briefly.
However, he lands it against the fence and Barzola immediately bounces back up. Archuleta drags him down and once again, Barzola pops back up. Juan Archuleta is doing a great job of controlling Barzola here.
Barzola breaks the grip and gets away. Right back on the pressure for Barzola. Nice jab for Archuleta and Barzola is just missing with a few power shots. Archuleta with another takedown attempt and Barzola is defending well.
Halfway through the final round. Barzola breaks and goes right back on the pressure. Takedown from Barzola, but Archuleta immediately scrambles to get the top position. Another scramble and they are back on their feet. Big right straight for Archuleta.
Barzola really pushing forward here and is swinging big. Takedown attempt from Archuleta and he’s struggling getting Barzola down. Final minute at Bellator 286. Barzola pushes forward with a nice combination. He then chains it into a takedown attempt.
He gets Archuleta down and then he gets the back of Archuleta. Barzola looking for the choke here. Archuleta turns into him and gets out harms way. The final bell sounds and it’s over. What a fight at Bellator 286.
Juan Archuleta def. Enrique Barzola by Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)