Bellator MMA’s Juan Archuleta probably has an interesting closet. He requires a wide range of clothing size.
Archuleta (21-1) meets Ricky Bandejas (11-1) in a key bantamweight contest on Saturday at Bellator 214 in Los Angeles. If you didn’t even know Archuleta competed in Bellator’s 135-pound division, don’t feel bad. Prior to this weekend, he didn’t. His last two fights were at featherweight.
Why the drop in weight? The simple answer to that is: That’s kind of Archuleta’s thing. This will mark his fourth weight class in the past two years.
“I lost my first fight in 2015, and I had to reset my goals,” Archuleta told ESPN. “What did I want to do, other than be undefeated? I set a new goal of going to different weight classes and solidifying myself as one of the best pound-for-pound fighters that way. I feel that will be my legacy.”
Prior to signing with Bellator in 2018, Archuleta won titles on the regional scene at 135, 145, 155 and 160 pounds.
He works with renowned nutritionist Sam Calavitta, who mapped out UFC bantamweight champion TJ Dillashaw‘s successful cut to flyweight last week. In fact, Archuleta has become such an expert in his own right, he flew to Brooklyn last week to oversee the final stages of Dillashaw’s historic cut.
“It puts a different meaning into fight camp,” Archuleta said. “You make sacrifices with diet, fluid intake, meals, not cheating on meals and workouts. And then, when you bulk up, you’re just eating huge meals and going into every practice full. They are different worlds and it keeps my mind off just the opponent.”
Optimizing the body for a particular weight class has become a passion of Archuleta’s, but it all ties back to the legacy he wants to leave.
The Californian has been overshadowed his entire athletic life — by older brothers in wrestling, and a UFC champion in Dillashaw in MMA — but that could change soon. With a win Saturday, Archuleta would have a case to fight Bellator champion Darrion Caldwell in the near future.
It feels like bouncing between weight classes has grown in popularity recently, but Archuleta was on this trend well before most. And between his experience and longtime commitment to it, there might be no one better suited to have success in multiple divisions in 2019.
“I feel that will be my legacy. Pound-for-pound, conquer each weight class,” Archuleta said. “That will stick out. People will always remember what I did in the sport. I came up the right way, I didn’t have a big name and I’ve made my own name.”