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Sergio Pettis beats Archuleta to win Bellator bantamweight title

Lucas Noonan / Bellator MMA

Sergio Pettis has stepped out of his brother's shadow, winning a title in a major organization more than seven years after making his UFC debut at the age of 20.

Pettis defeated Juan Archuleta via unanimous decision (50-45, 49-46, 49-46) Friday night in the Bellator 258 main event at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut, becoming the promotion's new bantamweight champion. Pettis is the younger brother of former UFC lightweight champion Anthony Pettis.

"(Anthony)'s been telling me I'm one of the best in the world ever since I started this," Pettis said in his postfight interview. "To finally be able to join him and get my own belt is amazing. It feels like a dream come true."

This was arguably Pettis' most mature and complete performance to date. The fight mostly took place in the stand-up department, and Pettis stayed composed while connecting with the more effective strikes over five rounds.

The main event was high-paced and featured big exchanges on the feet. Pettis especially shined with his jab, backing up Archuleta multiple times, and landed several countershots.

Archuleta is usually a very technical fighter, but he seemed a bit too wild while trading punches with Pettis and left himself open for counters that otherwise could've been avoided.

"I knew I was just getting the better of the exchanges," Pettis said. "He hit me with some good shots, but I knew my shots were hitting a little cleaner, a little bit harder. I was very calculated (and) calm. ... I was just flowing, and it's my night."

Pettis expressed interest in a clash with former Bellator champion Kyoji Horiguchi, who vacated the 135-pound title in 2019 due to an injury. Horiguchi, a fellow ex-UFC contender, is the current Rizin FF bantamweight champion.

"I would love to represent Bellator versus Rizin," Pettis said. "Anthony's got two belts, and it would be a great opportunity to get my second belt as well."

With the victory, Pettis extended his winning streak to four and improved his Bellator record to 3-0. The 27-year-old signed with the promotion in 2019 after nearly a six-year stint in the UFC.

Archuleta was attempting to retain the bantamweight title for the first time after beating Patchy Mix for the vacant belt last September. His two-fight winning streak ended. The 33-year-old suffered his second defeat under the Bellator banner and his first at 135 pounds.

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