Bellator 258 is set. The promotion is back in action on Friday night from the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut, with a loaded fight card that features a bantamweight title bout and the conclusion of the opening round of the Light Heavyweight World Grand Prix. Juan Archuleta will put his 135-pound title on the line against Sergio Pettis while Anthony “Rumble” Johnson makes his promotional debut against Jose Augusto in the co-main event.
Archuleta has had a brilliant run inside the Bellator cage. His lone defeat came in a Grand Prix bout against now two-division champion Patricio Pitbull, but “The Spaniard” owns wins over Patchy Mix, Henry Corrales, Eduardo Dantas and Ricky Bandejas. He gets a tough out in Pettis, who has ripped off three straight wins, including two inside the Bellator cage.
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This card also sees the return of Michael “Venom” Page when he takes on Derek Anderson in a bout at 175 pounds. Plus, Patricio Pitbull’s brother, Patricky, is back when he takes on another member of Team SBG in Peter Queally in a featured bout at 155 pounds.
With a big card on tap, our experts took a crack at picking each of the main card fights. Here are your pick makers: Brian Campbell (host of “Morning Kombat”) and Brent Brookhouse (staff writer).
Bellator 258 predictions
|Juan Archuleta (c) -170 vs. Sergio Pettis +145||Pettis||Archuleta|
|Anthony Johnson -440 vs. Jose Augusto +340||Johnson||Augusto|
|Patricky Pitbull -270 vs. Peter Queally +220||Pitbull||Pitbull|
|Michael Page -280 vs. Derek Anderson +230||Page||Page|
Campbell on why Pettis will win: For as impressive as Archuleta has looked and how formidable his pace and aggression can be, Pettis might be the quicker and more experienced fighter despite being just a small betting underdog. At 27, this feels like Pettis’ time from the standpoint of figuring out how great he can be after learning from previous ups and downs. Expect a track meet but one Pettis can outwork and win.
Brookhouse on why Archuleta will win: Archuleta is one of the sport’s most overlooked talents. Since the sixth fight in his career, Archuleta has gone on a 20-1 run. Pettis has faced the better level of competition over his career, but where Pettis’ issues will come against Archuleta is in his inability to score finishes. Pettis has a single stoppage win in his 10 most recent victories, compared to four for Archuleta in his last 10. This is a decision waiting to happen based on the respective finishing rates of the two men and Archuleta is at his best when he can pressure, and not having to worry about Pettis finishing him opens up the whole range of Archuleta’s skills.
Campbell on why Johnson will win: Augusto has described this last-minute opportunity as life changing and went as far as predicting a knockout of Johnson, who returns following a four-year retirement. There’s no question Johnson has some legitimate questions to answer, including whether he can go five rounds if necessary. But Johnson’s power remains both scary and enough to pull him out of any potentially difficult situations. Augusto might be better than people realize but that doesn’t mean Johnson can’t still end things early with one shot.
Brookhouse on why Pitbull will win: The red flag here is that Queally has only scored two finishes in 18 career fights. Those two finishes have come in his past three fights, but it’s hard to like Queally’s inconsistency and inability to score finishes against Pitbull, who has proven himself plenty in the Bellator cage.
Brookhouse on why Page will win: This is a dangerous fight for Page, which is something we’ve rarely been able to say in his Bellator career. As Page’s level of opposition slowly started to creep toward acceptable, he was crushed by Douglas Lima and Bellator hit the reset button on the challenge curve. After four more fights where Page could shine without much resistance, he now is set to face Anderson in a sneakily dangerous fight. Anderson is a very live underdog in this fight. That said, Page is explosive enough with his striking that it’s hard to pick against him. The upset is possible, but Page should be able to get through a few rocky moments to score a stoppage.