Sergio Pettis can no longer compete in the Bellator Bantamweight World Grand Prix.
Brent Brookhouse of CBS Sports reported on Tuesday that the reigning champion had been forced to withdraw from the tournament after suffering an undisclosed injury recently. Pettis was expected to defend his championship against Roufusport teammate Raufeon Stots in the opening round. Filling in for him is Juan Archuleta, the former champion who now fights Stots for an interim title at Bellator 279 on April 23.
Pettis has since confirmed his withdrawal and revealed his injury requires surgery that will take between six to nine months to recover from.
“Well Bellator should be announcing today that I’m out of the tournament for a million dollars,” wrote Pettis on his Facebook. “Sustained a injury last Monday that will put me out for 6-9 months and I’ll be getting my first surgery after years of competing. Just wasn’t meant to be and I’ve come to peace with that. Definitely depressing but I’m ready to get this ball rolling and return asap.”
Since joining the promotion over two years ago, Pettis has gone unbeaten under the Bellator banner. The ‘Phenom’ earned wins over Alfred Khashakyan and Ricky Bandejas before challenging then-champion Archuleta at Bellator 258, where he dethroned ‘The Spaniard’ by unanimous decision. In his first title defense, Pettis delivered both a ‘Knockout of the Year’ and ‘Comeback of the Year’ contender against Kyoji Horiguchi, who he finished with a spinning backfist.
There is no word yet on who replaces Pettis in the field, but Bellator has an option in Josh Hill. The ‘Gentleman’ was declared an alternate for the tournament immediately after his stunning second-round knockout of Jared Scoggins at Bellator 272 this past December. Hill has already drawn his next assignment in Enrique Barzola at Bellator 278, the event scheduled a day before the start of the Grand Prix.
With the addition of Archuleta vs. Stots, Bellator 279 has six confirmed fights. The headliner will see Cris Cyborg defend her women’s featherweight championship against Arlene Blencowe again.