LONG BEACH, Calif. – Juan Archuleta is back in the win column.
The former Bellator bantamweight champion snapped a two-fight skid Saturday. Archuleta (26-4 MMA, 8-3 BMMA) outpointed Peru’s Enrique Barzola in a unanimous decision after a high-paced, back-and-forth scrap. It was a big moment for Archuleta, who hadn’t tasted victory since September 2020.
“It’s been very unfortunate, my last two fights, because I’ve been working so damn hard to stay on top,” Archuleta said at the Bellator 286 post-fight press conference. “These last few months have been really scolded, molded, belittled, told what I’m doing wrong over and over every day – but I’m fortunate to have that because to be uncomfortable in those situations in practice, not many people can do it and I see them leave the workout room every day.
“It brought me back to the workout room every day thanks to Tiki Ghosn and Paul Herrera just constantly on my ass about being perfect, being perfect, being perfect. It showed a little bit tonight, but not all the way because obviously I didn’t get the finish I wanted. But I was trying. Enrique is a tough motherf*cker. He took some bombs and his neck was a good size, so I couldn’t slap that choke in, so props to him.”
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Archuleta hopes to be considered an alternate in the bantamweight grand prix – which is currently in the semifinal round. He thinks having beaten a formidable opponent in Barzola could get him just that if someone were to fall out.
Archuleta took the fight with “El Fuerte” knowing it would be one of the toughest matchups he could get in the division.
“They brought Enrique up to the mountain, and they said, ‘Hey, you’re fighting Enrique. What do you think?’ and I said, ‘He’s a tough motherf*cker. I’ll take it. Let’s go,’ and that’s what we ended up going with,” Archuleta said.
“We knew how durable he was and how good he is. I mean, he beat Darrion Caldwell, who’s a previous world champ, as well. I just didn’t want him to make his name off me.”
For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for Bellator 286.