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The 16-man Bellator featherweight tournament set to begin in September, and the first confirmed matchup features the division’s champion against a red-hot contender.
Reigning Bellator 145-pound titleholder Patricio Freire (29-4 MMA, 17-4 BMMA) will put his belt on the line against Juan Archuleta (23-1 MMA, 5-0 BMMA) in the opening round of the grand prix, which is scheduled to begin Sept. 28 at The Forum in Inglewood, Calif.
MMA Junkie verified the matchup with a person close to the situation following an initial report from ESPN.com. The person requested anonymity because the promotion has yet to make an announcement.
Freire vs. Archuleta is the first of eight opening-round fights expected to take place on the Sept. 28 card (likely to be Bellator 226). No other members of the field have been made official.
Freire, who also holds Bellator’s lightweight title, will return to the division where he’s done the majority of his work after claiming his second title with a quick knockout of heated rival Michael Chandler at Bellator 221 in May. The Brazilian holds several records in the company, including most wins, finishes and title-fight victories.
Looking to bring Freire’s run to halt is Archuleta, who will bring an outstanding 18-fight winning streak into his first Bellator title fight. Archuleta is a former three-division titleholder with King of the Cage and targeted a title shot following his brutal knockout of former Bellator champ Eduardo Dantas at Bellator 222 in June.
Archuleta was looking to challenge bantamweight titleholder Kyoji Horiguchi after his finish of Dantas, but will instead get another champion in Freire.
For more on the Bellator in Los Angeles, check out the MMA Schedule.
News | MMA Junkie