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Bellator announces $1 million tournament, field of eight bantamweights

Bellator champ Sergio Pettis will face a tournament filled with challengers next year.

Sergio Pettis after he beat Alfred Khashakyan at Bellator 238.
Sergio Pettis after he beat Alfred Khashakyan at Bellator 238.
Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images

Last night—at Bellator 272—Sergio Pettis pulled off a stunning comeback and KO to beat Kyoji Horiguchi and defend his Bellator bantamweight title for the first time. The champion will have little time to rest, though. Prior to the fight it was announced that both Pettis and Horiguchi would be competing in a $1 million bantamweight tournament next year.

Joining Pettis and Horiguchi in the tournament are Magomed Magomedov, Jame Gallagher, Leandro Higo, Patchy Mix, Raufeon Stots and Juan Archuleta.

According to a Bellator MMA press release all tournament bouts will be five round contests. The match-ups, dates and locations for the opening round are yet to be announced.

With his win over Horiguchi, Pettis will head into the tournament as one of the favourites to claim the grand prize. Prior to last night’s thrilling victory he beat Archuleta for the title. Pettis is undefeated since joining Bellator in 2020. He has an overall record of 22-5.

Horiguchi, the current RIZIN bantamweight champion, dropped to 29-4 last night. A former UFC flyweight title challenger and Bellator bantamweight champion, Horiguchi has fought primarily in Japan since his 2016 UFC release. Last December he TKO’d Kai Asakura to win back the RIZIN 135 lb title.

Magomedov was upset by Stots last time out, at Bellator 264. That loss dropped the Dagestani fighter to 18-2. His only other loss is to current UFC champion Petr Yan.

Stots moved to 17-1 with the win over Magomedov. He hasn’t lost since 2017 (due to a 15-second spinning backfist KO delivered by Merab Dvalishvili).

The outspoken Gallagher lost to Mix by guillotine last month. The loss took his record down to 11-2. Mix is 15-1. His only loss is to Archuleta. Archuleta is 25-3 and the current number one contender in Bellator’s bantamweight division. Higo is 21-5 and most recently beat Darion Caldwell.