Bellator is back at The Forum in Inglewood, California, on Saturday with a headline bout between Patricio "Pitbull" Freire and Juan Archuleta for the featherweight championship.
In addition to the featherweight title contest, Freire and Archuleta is one of four matchups at Bellator 228 that are part of the Bellator Featherweight World Grand Prix.
The first set of matches in the tournament took place on Sept. 7, with Saturday's event closing out the first round of the 16-man competition. The show will also feature former UFC light heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida, who is looking to extend his record in Bellator to 3-0 when he takes on Gegard Mousasi.
Bellator 228 Fight Card and Odds
Featherweight World Grand Prix and Championship bout: Patricio "Pitbull" Freire (c) (29-4) vs. Juan Archuleta (23-1)
Middleweight bout: Lyoto Machida (26-8) vs. Gegard Mousasi (45-7-2)
Featherweight World Grand Prix opening-round bout: Darrion Caldwell (13-3) vs. Henry Corrales (17-3)
Featherweight World Grand Prix opening-round bout: Daniel Weichel (39-11) vs. Saul Rogers (13-2)
Featherweight World Grand Prix opening-round bout: A.J. McKee (14-0) vs. Georgi Karakhanyan (28-9-1)
Odds available at Caesars.
Bellator 228 Schedule
Date: Saturday, Sept. 28
Main card start time: 10 p.m. ET
Watch: DAZN.com (subscription required)
Main Card Predictions
Patricio "Pitbull" Freire def. Juan Archuleta via second-round submission.
Lyoto Machida def. Gegard Mousasi via unanimous decision.
Darrion Caldwell def. Henry Corrales via second-round submission.
Daniel Weichel def. Saul Rogers via split decision.
A.J. McKee def. Georgi Karakhanyan via unanimous decision.
Main Event Prediction
Four months after adding the Bellator lightweight title to his resume, Freire is moving back down to his normal weight class to defend the featherweight crown for the first time since November.
Pitbull hasn't lost at 145 pounds since November 2015. His only defeat since then was against Benson Henderson at Bellator 160 when he suffered a broken leg that forced the match to be stopped in the second round.
All of this success has led to Freire to proclaim he's on his way to becoming the greatest featherweight in MMA history.
"I see [the Grand Prix] as a way to test myself and face guys I haven't beaten before," Freire told MMA Junkie's Nolan King. "I've dominated two generations of Bellator featherweights, and I'm going to dominate the third. I want people to write in the history books I'm the greatest featherweight fighter ever, and I'm aiming at greatest all around. The tournament is a good way to settle that."
The first step on Pitbull's journey to a Grand Prix triumph is a bout with Archuleta, who is seeking his sixth straight win since moving to Bellator in 2018.
Archuleta owns a 23-1 career record with an even split between knockouts and decision wins (11). The Spaniard will want to keep the fight standing and to use his power to wear down his opponent. His lone submission win came in October 2015 with Gladiator Challenge.
Speaking to MMA Junkie's Simon Head about this matchup, Archuleta explained the strategy he wants to implement:
"Cardio—going out and pushing the pace. Making him find his wall and exposing it, and making him want to quit—that's my driving force in this fight. I know he's not going to. He's a champion and he's shown his heart before. But I've got to find his wall, and I've got to find mine, and I've got to break through it and be victorious."
Trying to wear down Freire is a dangerous proposition because of his diverse skill set. The Brazilian owns 11 wins by knockout and submission, as well as seven by decision. In 33 career fights, Freire's only TKO loss was because of the leg injury he suffered against Henderson.
The only clear path for Archuleta to pull off the upset is keeping the fight upright and getting it into the later rounds.
Freire's dominance over the Bellator featherweight division since 2010 makes him a deserving favorite coming into the tournament. His ability to fight standing or on the ground gives him an edge over Archuleta in Saturday's main event.
Prediction: Freire via second-round submission.