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Juan Archuleta talks prison time, substance abuse: I was ‘being a fool’

Juan Archuleta has faced more adversity inside a cell than he ever will inside a cage.

Juan Archuleta Bellator 238 Henry Corrales MMA News Budd Cyborg Photo by Hans Gutknecht/MediaNews Group/The Los Angeles Daily News via Getty Images

Juan Archuleta has faced plenty of adversity inside the cage but the biggest challenge of his life came from inside a cell.

Archuleta (23-2) caught up with Bloody Elbow ahead of his fight with Henry Corrales (17-4) at Bellator 238. The “Spaniard” opened up about his one-year stint in prison and past struggles with substance abuse.

“I’ve been through adversity a lot in my life,” Archuleta shared. “Being in prison for a year. Losing my freedom... Not having anything. Not having any friends to talk to or any family to see... Being stuck in my jail cell 24/7.”

“I don’t want to go too fair into the details because there is a documentary coming out,” he revealed. “It was basically being in college, losing eligibility and turning to substance abuse like alcohol. Being a fool.”

Archuleta immediately got to work turning his life around once he was free.

“When I came out, I didn’t have anything. I still put myself out there,” he said, sharing his advice for others struggling to move forward in life. “Put yourself out there. Go through doors of opportunity. Don’t think people are always trying to get something from you. If you don’t go through that door of opportunity and create more opportunities for yourself, and you shut yourself down and there is no support system, you’re coming up short on the goals you want to accomplish. Don’t be afraid to take that leap of faith.

“For me, I find my faith in God and I find all my support in God. That opens up opportunities to have more support for my family, have more belief in my family, my friends and people I don’t even know,” he said. “You never know who you are going to inspire while they are inspiring you.”

Archuleta has only lost twice in his professional career: once in 2015 and again in his last outing against Patricio Freire for the Bellator featherweight title. He compared those two defeats and confessed the first one was actually harder to swallow.

“My first loss, I wanted to jump in front of traffic I was so devastated. My whole goal was to be undefeated in MMA, but being naive in the sport you realize it’s not about wins and losses anymore, it’s about performing,” he said. “It irks me that I lost [to “Pitbull”]. It’s not that I lost, it’s just that I didn’t get to really give my best performance on the biggest night of my life. It sucks but I gotta count my losses and suck it up like a man. It doesn’t define who I am.”

Finally, Archuleta revealed a terrible secret about beloved PRIDE and UFC legend Quinton “Rampage” Jackson: He likes his steak well-done.

“I always cook it to about 125 and if it’s still raw, I’ll sear it a little,” said Archuleta, sharing his steak cooking tips. “But I know guys like ‘Rampage’, he likes it well done. I’m like man, how can you eat a well done steak?”

Bellator 238 takes place on Saturday, Jan. 25. The event is headlined by a women’s featherweight title fight between Julia Budd and Cris Cyborg.