Sergio Pettis, the reigning Bellator bantamweight champion, is becoming increasingly close to making a comeback, and he already knows who he'll be facing.
In May 2021, Pettis (22-5 MMA, 4-0 BMMA) defeated Juan Archuleta to claim the 135-pound championship. He successfully defended his championship for the first time against Kyoji Horiguchi last year in a thrilling fourth-round knockout.
But earlier this year, due to an ACL tear, he was forced to withdraw from Bellator's bantamweight grand prix rather than risk losing his crown. Raufeon Stots vs. Archuleta was turned into an interim title fight by Bellator to kick off the competition. Stots won the interim championship, and on Friday, he defeated Danny Sabatello to get to the Patchy Mix final.
In order to unify the titles, the victor of that battle will eventually face Pettis. And when Pettis comes back, he anticipates seeing Stots, a former teammate from Roufusport, in front of him.
“I think it’s going to be me and my teammate, Raufeon Stots,” Pettis told at Bellator 289 this past Friday in Uncasville, Conn. “… That’s what I’m prepping for.”
For the title bout, Pettis stated he and Stots won't have any problems putting their previous friendship and training connection aside. Prior to Pettis' injury, when Stots was scheduled to face Pettis in the event, he left Roufusport in Milwaukee to prevent any potential interpersonal conflicts.
“It does make it a lot easier now that I’m not in the same practice room as him,” Pettis said.
“I was with him for about six and a half years every day, training each other to get better and better. Now we’re at this level where we have to fight each other. That’s OK with us because we’re reaching to be the best in the world.
“… I feel like there wouldn’t be any bad blood. Obviously, our job is competition and currency. That’s what we’re here for. We’re just here competing against each other trying to get that bread and may the best man win. I don’t think we’ll have any issues.”
Pettis claimed that he began training sooner than his physicians had recommended because of boredom. He claimed that Bellator 289 was the first event he had seen in the organization following his victory against Horiguchi.
However, he claimed that his knee felt back to usual and that he believes he would be fully prepared for the Stots-Mix winner. The final has not yet been given a date, but it won't be any later than April or May. Pettis' comeback could yet occur many months later, in the summer of 2023.
“Day to day, I feel like my knee’s gotten a lot better. I can do everything I used to be able to do – the spin kick, the jump knees, sprawls, wrestling. I’m still not 100 percent comfortable, but I’m close.”