UNCASVILLE, Conn. – Right now in Bellator’s bantamweight division, Juan Archuleta is king.

As he sits atop the throne ahead of his first promotional title defense at Bellator 258, Archuleta (25-2 MMA, 7-1 BMMA) identifies a sea of talent around him. Bellator has reconstructed its 135-pound division with many of the promotion’s assets scheduled for Friday’s card.

Bantamweight notables Patchy Mix, Raufeon Stots, Josh Hill and Henry Corrales are all booked for the event. It’s quite possible Archuleta’s next challenge, should he get through Sergio Pettis (20-5 MMA, 2-0 BMMA), will compete on his undercard Friday.

“Possibly, yeah,” Archuleta told MMA Junkie on Wednesday. “Some of the guys who dropped out and some of the guys who are looking forward to still hoping you can get a fight with (are on this card). (Then, there’s) Horiguchi and big names like that that I feel like I deserve capitalizing on.”

In his position, Archuleta only wants to fight truly worthy competitors. Pettis is one of them, in Archuleta’s estimation, citing big-fight experience as what makes him stand out above the pack.

“I feel like I’ve taken my time,” Archuleta said. “I’ve done the groundwork of fighting guys like (Magomed) Magomedov and Raufeon Stots and Josh Hill and these guys. Yeah, they’re building their name, too, but a guy like Sergio, of course, deserves a title fight. People are like, ‘Oh, he has two fights.’ It’s like, ‘Dude, he’s fought since he was 18 years old. The guy is experienced. He’s put his time in. … That’s what I’m here for now. I’m the champ. I get to choose the big fights that I’m deserving of.”

For years, Archuleta has chased a fight against former Bellator champion and current RIZIN champion Kyoji Horiguchi (29-3 MMA, 1-0 BMMA). According to Archuleta, the wish almost became a reality during Bellator’s three-month hiatus at the beginning of 2021.

“We were supposed to fight on New Year’s and then it got pushed back to March, and then finally, Scott Coker was like, ‘We’re going with Pettis.’ I was like, ‘Let’s do it. I need a fight.’ They kept playing games. So who knows what’s going on with them in reality.”

It might not have happened yet, but Archuleta isn’t willing to give up on the matchup.

“Hopefully, that’s our next fight,” Archuleta said. “We’re still pushing for the fight, granted I do my job Friday night.”

Bellator 258 takes place Friday at Mohegan Sun Arena. The main card airs on Showtime after prelims on MMA Junkie.