Juan Archuleta defeated Soo Chul Kim when the pair squared off at Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan on New Year’s Eve, Saturday, December 31. The bout was featured on the Bellator MMA vs Rizin fight card on Showtime in the United States and FITE in other countries.
Former Bellator bantamweight champion, Archuleta, took the victory by split decision and improved to 27-4. Kim dropped to 18-7-1.
“I’m feeling very happy, very lucky, and fortunate,” Juan Archuleta said after the fight. “I just got in a battle with Soo Chul Kim, and I’m happy to get the victory.”
“I knew it was going to be a close fight. Soo Chul Kim is an animal and so am I and that he was going to push the pace.”
“I knew it was going to be a tough fight, but I have a lot more respect because I hit him with a lot of hard shots. I kind of hurt my hands a bit because he had such a hard head, and he kept moving forward. I’m kind of surprised.”
“It was so amazing [to fight here in Japan on New Year’s Eve]. There is always something you wish you could do more. It’s in my blood and I’m so honored to fight here.”
“I am ‘The Spaniard’, my fight name is ‘The Spaniard.’ My father’s side comes from Spain, but on my mom’s side, my family comes from Mexico, from Native Meso-Americans. [My walkout costume paid tribute to] those warriors that represent what the emperor selected; real, true warriors hand-selected by the emperor. Here in Rizin, I was able to represent the other side of my culture. It’s not only the samurai, it means something to me: the jaguar warrior. I wanted to bring that to your eyes, to show you that there are other warriors. Just like the bushido code in Japan. That was honor, and that was real respect. To pay homage to that was to pay tribute to my Aztec family, and that was the ‘jaguar warrior.'”
“I just want to stay active, I want to get back into the ring as soon as possible. I love fighting. I was already hitting mitts with my cornermen after the fight because I was like “what should I have done better?”. We are always critiquing ourselves like “I wish I did this.” Happy with the performance, happy to get the win. Especially against an opponent like Soo Chul Kim, and now come next year, if Rizin and Bellator put on another event, I hope I left [enough of] an impression on the fans and showed my love, respect, and honor for your guys’ culture to have me back.”
“I inflicted the first damage; bloodied him up. Then, I started the takedowns. It was slippery. It was my first time in the ring; I tried not to let it get to my head. I knew where I had to take the fight to win the fight. I knew I had to take him to the ground to get control, to establish dominance and cause damage, and that’s what I did. And remember, [Rizin President Nobuyuki] Sakakibara didn’t bring us here for an easy [Team Bellator] win. He’s a former champ. These fights are close; they’re gonna be dogfights for us to win. I had the best of Soo Chul Kim, and he had the very best of me.”
“His body shots were pretty damaging. There are marks on my body. He hit me with some good body shots, so anyone with weaker conditioning, he would’ve dropped.”
‘I definitely would like to come back and fight for the title’
Commenting on where he would rank Soo Chul Kim in Bellator’s bantamweight division, Archuleta said: “Definitely in the Top 6, above the Top 10 that’s for sure. I think he finishes a lot of guys we have in Bellator just because of toughness and his grit. It reminded me a lot of my last opponent I fought, Enrique Barzola.”
“I definitely would like to come back and fight for the title. I think beating one of Rizin’s top fighters puts me in title contention. I think Asakura if he wants the challenge. I’m more than willing to take the fight, I’ve offered the fight. If I am able to come back to Japan I will fight anyone who Sakikabara wanted.”
“I think their confidence [has been a deciding factor in Team Rizin’s struggles]. They’re lacking in dictating their offense. With Soo Chul Kim, if he had started his offense a little earlier, he would have had me on the back foot more. I think their confidence is lacking a little more. It is scary though, because you’re crossing the line. Sometimes when you cross the line and get hit, it makes you second guess your next move. I think fighters on both sides were questioning how to cross the line without getting hurt.”
Get Bellator MMA vs Rizin full fight card results.