Patricio Pitbull is still Bellator’s best.
The reigning featherweight champion penned his eighth successful title defense and the first of his third run at the belt with a lopsided decision win over Adam Borics in Saturday’s main event of Bellator 286 in Long Beach, California. All three judges had Pitbull as the winner via scores of 48-47, 49-46 and 50-45.
Pitbull (34-5) was just too skilled and experienced for the younger Borics (18-2), who failed to muster any significant offense ahead of a late Round 5 rally. That being said, Pitbull won the majority of exchanges with accurate and powerful shots while also mixing in takedowns to neutralize Borics.
The dominant win didn’t please everyone in the crowd at the Long Beach Convention & Entertainment Center, so Pitbull used the first part of his post-fight interview to address the taunts.
“Why are you booing me?” Pitbull asked. “I’m the damn champion. I’m the fucking GOAT. F*** you all.”
Pitbull was then asked who he would be fighting next, and the former 155-pound champion suggested that a recently discussed move to bantamweight made sense given that top featherweight contender Aaron Pico made one earlier in the night upset loss after injuring his shoulder.
“I was thinking about Aaron Pico, but he dislocated his shoulder and now I don’t know what’s going to happen,” Pitbull said. “Maybe I’ll go to bantamweight and take that belt too.”
The taller Borics struggled to get his punch going throughout the bout, with Pitbull countering the Hungarian’s signature flying knee on multiple occasions, either with a return punch or a well-timed takedown.
When Borics didn’t go all out, Pitbull was content to single him out from afar and control him with his grappling. It was a sharp, methodical performance from the tall Brazilian, who was rarely in danger throughout the five-round competition. Pitbull drove to his second straight win and eighth in his last nine fights.
In the co-main event, AJ McKee (19-1) made a winning lightweight debut against a wild and scrappy Spike Carlyle (14-4), earning a unanimous decision (29-26, 30-26, 30-27). The tone of the fight was set in the opening seconds as Carlyle came out of his corner with a flying kick and started winging Heumacher.
Carlyle stayed on offense as he charged McKee from behind cover, but McKee displayed superior grappling and worked from his back to initiate the offense and finish the round on Carlyle’s back.
More heated exchanges ensued throughout the bout, but McKee’s wrestling and jiu-jitsu proved crucial as he pinned Carlyle to the mat and attacked with ground punches and submissions from multiple positions. A bloodied Carlyle showed exceptional toughness, but McKee did more than enough to end up taking the win on the scorecards.
After the fight, McKee was asked if he was still interested in returning to the 145-pound division and he replied that he would only drop back for a title shot. Otherwise, he plans to compete in the recently announced Bellator Lightweight World Grand Prix, which will be held in 2023. McKee previously won a Bellator featherweight tournament where he won a championship belt and a $1 million prize.
Also on the main card, Jeremy Kennedy (18-3, 1 NC) pulled off a big surprise win over Aaron Pico (10-4), although probably not in the way he wanted. During a commotion, Pico dislocated his shoulder, and although his team appeared to put it back in place between rounds, the referee and ringside doctor agreed that Pico’s injury was so severe that he was unable to continue.
Former Bellator Bantamweight Champion Juan Archuleta (26-4) opened the show by taking a one-on-one sled with a unanimous win (30-27, 30-27, 30-27) over Enrique Barzola (18-7 -2) stopped. “The Spaniard” came out in Round 1 and bested Barzola over the course of a fast-paced 15-minute fight, although the fight wasn’t without its hairy moments.
Archuleta almost hit Barzola with an illegal headbutt against a prone opponent in the first round (Barzola blocked him with his arm), and Barzola also succeeded by throwing sharp elbows as Archuleta tried to takedown against the fence. However, Archuleta continued to thrive, mixing in timely takedowns to secure the win.
Here are the full Bellator 286 results.