This past weekend, we saw the first round of matchups in the Bellator Bantamweight World Grand Prix. Two fighters punched their tickets to the semifinal round and an alternate punched his ticket to a quarterfinal matchup.
Things got started at Bellator 278 on Friday night when Danny Sabatello (12-1) took on Jornel Lugo. Sabatello was able to put on a great performance and he also got an A+ in terms of his post-fight promo.
His decision victory punched his ticket to the quarterfinals where he will meet Leandro Higo in June. Then, the action turned to Saturday night where we saw the biggest matchups of the weekend at Bellator 279.
Kicking things off was a matchup between Patchy Mix (16-1) and Kyoji Horiguchi (29-5). Horiguchi was coming off of a brutal loss to Sergio Pettis where it looked like he had the bantamweight title won. After dominating three and a half rounds, Horiguchi was caught with a spinning backfist.
Given his long track record of success, I really liked him to advance at Bellator 279. However, Patchy Mix had other plans. Mix was able to land takedowns in three rounds and secure top position long enough to secure the rounds. In the end, all three judges gave him the fight 48-47.
Bellator’s New Interim Champion
Following that matchup, we saw the interim title on the line between Raufeon Stots (18-1) and former bantamweight champion Juan Archuleta (25-4). Originally, Stots was supposed to face Sergio Pettis for the undisputed bantamweight title at Bellator 279.
However, Pettis tore his ACL and was forced out of the Grand Prix. That’s how this interim title came to be. Stots looked tremendous in this matchup, but Archuleta was able to hold his own until the third round.
In the third round, Stots landed a big headkick which floored Archuleta. A few follow up elbows led to the referee stopping the fight and awarding the Bellator interim bantamweight championship to Raufeon Stots.
Here is where things currently stand after this past weekend:
Here’s where we stand. pic.twitter.com/YUrZqHIcCV
— Bellator Public Relations (@BellatorPR) April 24, 2022
In terms of who should be favored moving forward, I don’t know how you don’t bet on Raufeon Stots. Outside of a quick spinning backfist loss to Merab Dvalishvili years ago, Stots has been perfect in his professional career.
He continues to look better and better and I don’t see anyone stopping him from winning this Bellator Grand Prix. If I was to predict the finals, I would say that we are heading for a matchup between Stots and Patchy Mix with the winner lining up to welcome back Sergio Pettis.