The lighter weight divisions are some of Bellator’s deepest. And one of the fighters that helps make that case is the 21-1 ‘Spaniard’ Juan Archuleta.
Hesperia, California’s finest has been on an absolute tear as of late and continues to force Bellator’s hand when it comes to giving him a title shot. Something that both Archuleta and his opponent Ricky Bandejas expect to come with a potential win on Saturday at Bellator 214.
“Ricky and I right now are fighting for the No. 1 contender spot at 135 [pounds] and there’s no better way then to go out there and fight Ricky,” Archuleta told BJPenn.com at Bellator 214’s media day. “He’s made noise for himself, I’ve made noise for myself and we’re both going to go out there and fight our asses off for a world title shot.”
Due to Archuleta’s very impressive winning streak, he has arguably been in title contention for a while now. However, the hardworking wrestler doesn’t feel frustrated by having to make statement after statement to get his shot at gold.
“Nothing’s given, man,” Juan Archuleta said. “You gotta go out there and make your way, gotta make your noise. And I believe Ricky feels the same way, nothing’s going to be given to us, ya know? We’re fighters, there’s thousands of us. They can take anyone and put them in there. Our job is to go out there and keep putting our nose to the grindstone and just make a statement for ourselves like he did with [James] Gallagher, like I did my last three opponents. We’re both gonna do the same that night.”
Even with a win on Saturday night over Bandejas, the waiting may have to continue for Archuleta.
Due to Kyoji Horiguchi’s upset win over current Bellator bantamweight champ Darrion Caldwell, it now demands an instant rematch. But this next time will be in Bellator for Caldwell’s title rather than the inaugural RIZIN crown.
“I think you just keep grinding, we’re here to fight,” Archuleta said. “I think that’s what makes Ricky and I such great fighters is cause we just want to fight, man. We’re both blue-collar athletes. We’re here to fight, we’re here to win, we’re here to put on performances. And even if we get derailed, one of us is going to keep on going and making our mark on this sport.”
In fact, Juan Archuleta thought the fight itself was awesome and thinks that the rematch could tell a different story. Either way, Archuleta has interest in fighting either man at some point.
“It was awesome,” Archuleta said of Caldwell vs Horiguchi. “I think Caldwell definitely ends it if it was in a cage. There’s a little bit different gameplan and
“If he goes in the cage, makes some adjustments, I think it could be a different outcome but Horiguchi’s no sleeper, man. That dude’s been putting on some performances his whole career. He’s a handful and I’m excited to have him in Bellator with the possibility of competing against him.”
When it comes to who Archuleta would rather fight and why? He says Caldwell to settle who gets bragging rights as the better wrestler and Horiguchi for his legacy’s sake.
But ultimately, Archuleta will need to get past Bandejas on Saturday one way or another.
This article first appeared on BJPenn.com on 1/24/2019