Last weekend at Bellator 279, we saw the Bantamweight Grand Prix kick off with two tremendous matchups. In one of those matchups, the interim bantamweight championship was on the line as former champion Juan Archuleta (25-4) took on Raufeon Stots (18-1).
Archuleta was looking to regain a piece of the Bellator title after losing it to Sergio Pettis. However, Pettis’ teammate Stots had different plans. After going back and forth through the first couple of rounds, Stots ended things quickly in the third with a head kick.
Earlier on in the Bellator 279 card, another former champion returned. That former champion was Kyoji Horiguchi (29-5) and he was taking on grappling expert Patchy Mix (16-1). Horiguchi was coming off of a loss to Sergio Pettis where he was dominating before getting knocked out.
This fight was going to come down to where it took place. Horiguchi needed to keep things standing as he was the much sharper fighter and had much better speed. He showed that at Bellator 279 when there were striking exchanges.
However, in three of the rounds, Mix was able to land takedowns and control the majority of the rounds. For that reason, the judges gave the fight to Mix 48-47 across the board and handed Horiguchi has second straight loss.
Bellator Match Maker
Prior to Bellator 279, the only two men in the tournament to have held gold were Horiguchi and Archuleta. Now, both men are out of the tournament before it reached the semifinals and now they need a new opponent.
See where I’m going with this? To me, the next matchup for Bellator is very easy to make. The move is to pair the former champions against each other with the winner staying relevant in the title picture despite being out of the Grand Prix.
Horiguchi has never lost two consecutive fights in his career. Now, the former Bellator champion has and his back is against the wall. Archuleta has also lost two consecutive fights for the first time in his career.
Both of these former Bellator champions need a win and both will be desperate for one. That should translate to an excellent fight and it’s the one the promotion should look to make.