Bellator returns this week with an excellent headliner, featuring a title fight at the top and a bevy of familiar names and some very competitive matchups. Not only that, but the light heavyweight tournament continues in the race to the million dollar prize.
As of late, it feels as if Bellator matchmaking has become far more balanced and sensible. The product as a whole appears to be much more narrowly focused and the fights end up being less haphazardly put together.
All things considered, we end up with a tidy card that has less clutter and a fair amount of action that leads in interesting directions. And there’s major consequences to this one, primarily with the title fight at the top. Juan Archuleta (25-2) finally reached the pinnacle to become Bellator champ, and now he’ll be defending his title against Sergio Pettis (20-5).
Archuleta captured the belt in a five-rounder for the vacant belt against Patchy Mix to earn back to back wins, while Pettis is on a three-win streak that includes wins over Tyson Nam and Ricky Bandejas. Pettis remains one of the most technical fighters in the division, doing cumulative damage the whole way and not forcing opportunities for the finish. Archuleta remains a tenacious come-forward fighter that deals out volume and mixes up his wrestling with his strikes better than most.
Co-main event billing goes to Anthony “Rumble“ Johnson (22-6), who returns to MMA competition after being away since 2017. He’ll now have the opportunity to punch his ticket to move on in the tournament against Jose Augusto Azevedo (7-2). Azevedo has a five-fight win streak and a few finishes, all of this while training with the Pitbull Brothers. But will he be able to withstand the barrages that Johnson dishes out? Can he defend takedowns effectively against a wrestler this strong? We’ll have to see, but Johnson will also have to contend with Azevedo’s submission game and make sure his cardio holds up as well.
Michael “Venom“ Page (18-1) returns against one of Bellator’s best homegrown talents, Derek Anderson (17-3). Page didn’t quite like the dynamic showstopper that he was earlier on, having some a rough performance against Ross Houston in his last outing. Chances are that with steps up in competition, he’ll have a tougher time adding to his highlight reel, and Anderson will be a tough nut to crack. Anderson’s racked up three straight wins including this wild and somewhat controversial finish over hot prospect Killys Mota.
Lorenz Larkin (22-7) is back at middleweight, and he’s got a potential fight of the night as he meets fellow striker and former Bellator middleweight champ Rafael Carvalho (16-5).
Speaking of Pitbull brothers, Patricky (23-9) is back in action against Irish toughman Peter Queally (12-5, 1 draw). Patchy Mix (13-1) will have a chance at rebounding from his lone loss to the current champ as he draws California’s Albert Morales (10-6, 1 draw). Raufeon Stots (15-1) meets former Ultimate Fighter contestant and former two-time World Series Of Fighting title challenger Josh Hill (20-3), in what could be a very under-the-radar banger.
Wrestling standout Logan Storley (11-1) takes on Team Alpha Male rep and former UAE Warriors vet Omar Hussein (8-2), while Henry Corrales (18-5) meets former WSOF and CES fighter Johnny Campbell (20-13).
Finally, the very charismatic Erik “Goyito“ Perez (19-8) returns to the cage against Blaine Shutt (8-4).
You can see the weigh-ins here:
Card is as follows:
Juan Archuleta (135) vs Sergio Pettis (134.75) – Bantamweight title fight
Jose Augusto (204.75) vs Anthony Johnson (205) – Light heavyweight tournament quarterfinal
Patricky Freire (155.5) vs Peter Queally (155) - Lightweight
Derek Anderson (175) vs Michael Page (174.75) - Catchweight
Josh Hill (136) vs Raufeon Stots (135.5) - Bantamweight
Rafael Carvalho (185) vs Lorenz Larkin (185.5) - Middleweight
Patchy Mix (136) vs Albert Morales (135) - Bantamweight
Omar Hussein (170.75) vs Logan Storley (170.25) - Welterweight
Johnny Eblen (185) vs Daniel Madrid (185.5) - Middleweight
Johnny Campbell (135.75) vs Henry Corrales (135) - Bantamweight
Erik Perez (135.5) vs Blaine Shutt (135) - Bantamweight
Bellator 258: Archuleta vs Pettis takes place this Friday night, with the main card on Showtime starting at 9:00pm EST. Prelims start on YouTube at 5:30pm.