Bellator bantamweight champion Sergio Pettis will no longer be part of the promotion’s next big prize.
Promotion officials confirmed to MMA Fighting on Tuesday that Pettis was absent from the tournament due to an undisclosed injury. Pettis was scheduled to defend his title against Raufeon Stots at Bellator 279 in the first round, but now Juan Archuleta will step in to face Stots for an interim 135-pound title at the April 23 event in Hawaii. CBS Sports was first to report the change.
As of now, a replacement for Pettis on the pitch has yet to be determined. The grand prize winner will not only get the interim bantamweight championship, but the $1 million prize – which will be in addition to the contestant’s normal fight purses throughout the tournament.
Pettis took to Facebook on Tuesday morning to reveal that his injury will require surgery and will keep him out of action for six to nine months.
Pettis’ injury comes amid arguably the best streak of his career. “The Phenom” has won five straight, including defeating Archuleta for his first world title at Bellator 258 last May. The eighth-ranked fighter in the MMA Fighting World Rankings closed out 2021 with one of the most vicious knockouts of the year, delivering a backward punch to Kyoji Horiguchi at Bellator 272 in December.
Alongside the fight between Archuleta and Stots, Cris Cyborg will defend her featherweight title against Arlene Blencowe at Bellator 279, while Horiguchi will meet Patchy Mix in a second round match.