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Bellator champ Sergio Pettis: I’m ‘kind of babysitting’ the belt Kyoji Horiguchi never lost

Pettis wants to squash any concerns of who the real bantamweight champion is after his fight with Kyoji Horiguchi at Bellator 272. 

Sergio Pettis during his fight with Alfred Khashakyan at Bellator 238.
Sergio Pettis during his fight with Alfred Khashakyan at Bellator 238.
Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images

If there are questions about who the ‘real’ bantamweight champion is, then Sergio Pettis hopes to answer them at Bellator 272.

Pettis is set to defend the title for the first time since dethroning Juan Archuleta at Bellator 258 this past May. He meets Kyoji Horiguchi, the current RIZIN FF bantamweight champion and former Bellator bantamweight champion. Horiguchi won the title over two years ago against Darrion Caldwell at Bellator 222 but could not defend it. Shortly after the fight with Caldwell, he suffered a knee injury and required surgery that would keep him out of action for a year, so he decided to relinquish the belt.

Since he never lost the belt in competition, Horiguchi has said that he still considers himself the champion. Pettis can understand where he is coming from but would like to quell any doubt about the validity of his reign with a win over Horiguchi.

“In my head that’s how I view it,” Pettis told Mike Bohn of MMA Junkie. “I view it as he was the champion and he hurt his knee unfortunately and had to vacate the belt and Juan won it by beating Patchy Mix, and I beat Juan. But at the end of the day, that’s Horiguchi’s belt. Right now, I’m just kind of babysitting it and this fight will really signify who the real champion is of this division.”

Though proving himself as a legitimate champion is important, Pettis is also excited about testing his style against the one Horiguchi has. The Roufusport representative knows how diverse his upcoming opponent is and is ready to face that challenge head-on.

“I’m excited to just test my style against all styles,” said Pettis. “This is a new style to the table. He has a karate style, but he’s also good at MMA. He’s not just a stand-up fighter. He can submit you, he can take you down. He knows how to play the game really well. I mean 29-3…it’s hard to deny that. I’m excited to test my skills, test my style. I’m at a good point in my life where I feel like this is going to be my breakout fight honestly.

“This is going to be where I can show who I am and not in a sense of media or whatever but in a sense of fighting,” continued Pettis. “And to show what I’m capable of doing. I still haven’t had that performance yet where I’m like, ‘Yo, this was it. This is how I am. This is who I’m going to be.’ So, I’m taking it fight by fight and I feel like this fight is going to be the one where I’m going to really showcase what Sergio Pettis is about.”

Pettis vs. Horiguchi serves as the headliner for Bellator 272, which takes place on Friday, Dec. 3, live from the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn.