Bellator 246: “Archuleta vs. Mix” comes to Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn., TONIGHT (Sat., Sept. 12, 2020), streaming on DAZN (watch it) and airing on Paramount Network. After nearly one year of vacancy it’s finally time to crown a new Bantamweight champion in the night’s main event.
Let’s break it down:
135 lbs.: Juan Archuleta (24-2) vs. Patchy Mix (13-0)
The rise of Patrick “Patchy” Mix has been something to behold. A gifted wrestler who was seemingly overlooked by the major college programs around the country, Mix had taken up work in roofing to support his family until the itch to compete crawled under his skin. He went undefeated as an amateur, remains undefeated as a professional, and blew through his last four opponents in a combined eight minutes. The moment it was clear he was something out of the ordinary was watching him leapfrog onto Ricky Bandejas and tenaciously work in a rear-naked choke until his overwhelmed foe was forced to tap.
Yeah, Mix is an exciting guy to watch.
That doesn’t make “The Spaniard” Juan Archuleta any less special. He’s as versatile as he is well balanced, splitting 50 percent of his wins between decisions and finishes (11 knockouts and one submission). After losing to “Pitbull” Patricio Freire in a five-round Featherweight bout, he’s seeking a new path at Bantamweight, but he won’t necessarily be the bigger man as both men stand 5’8.” While Archuleta’s finishing power is proven, power tends to wane in championship fights in later rounds, when the arms and legs fill up with lactic acid and require deep breaths just to get Oxygen back. Archuleta has the advantage of having gone the distance before, but not at this weight, and I think that will crush him.
Final prediction: Patrick Mix remains undefeated to become the new champion
170 lbs.: Jon Fitch (32-7-2, 1 NC) vs. Neiman Gracie (9-1)
If life was fair, Jon Fitch would have defeated Rory MacDonald instead of going to a draw. It’s not like Fitch isn’t used to getting a raw deal, though — it took him years to get a title shot in UFC because Dana White decided he was “boring” even though he kept mowing through one contender after another. His best day is usually his opponent’s worst day, though, and that’s only boring based on your perspective. If you enjoy seeing a technically proficient fighter with the skill set to neutralize every offensive move someone makes, knowing fans of that man will howl in rage at the indignity of it all, Fitch is a highly entertaining fighter. One might even say he’s the troll of the Welterweight division.
He makes some (maybe many) fans mad ... and knows it.
Neiman Gracie isn’t exactly a fountain of charisma who will respond to this trolling with anger and trash talking. He’s a cool cucumber inside and outside of the cage who never seems to get his feathers ruffled. Even in a loss he’ll humbly accept the outcome and say he wasn’t the better man that day, but that one loss was to the aforementioned MacDonald, who at this point might be a bigger troll than Fitch. Now that he’s out of the way both fighters have a chance to prove to each other what they couldn’t in the Welterweight tournament — who is the superior grappler and submission fighter. On paper it’s the world medalist with the famous last name, but Fitch gives fighters fits no matter their skill set and hasn’t lost a contest in six years. The only major advantage I can find either way is that Gracie is 31 and Fitch is 42, because Father Time is a cruel and merciless bastard.
Final prediction: Neiman Gracie via unanimous decision
125 lbs.: Liz Carmouche (13-7) vs. DeAnna Bennett (10-6-1)
“Vitamin D” DeAnna Bennett has lost two in a row and three of her last four. Liz Carmouche has won four of her last six, going the distance with Valentina Shevchenko in her last UFC fight, which is impressive win or lose. The story writes itself.
Final prediction: Liz Carmouche via technical knockout
155 lbs.: Derek Campos (20-10) vs. Keoni Diggs (8-0)
It’s true that Derek Campos has only found victory in one of his last five fights, but it’s also true that one was a split decision loss and another was a late third round submission. He’s renowned for his toughness and grit even if he doesn’t always get the winner’s share of the purse. Keoni Diggs is an interesting opponent given he’s undefeated and has finished 75 percent of his bouts (five submissions, one knockout), but at 33 he’s relatively late in a MMA career to go on a run, and gives up a formidable amount of experience to a battle-tested Campos.
Final prediction: Derek Campos via second round knockout
That’s a wrap!
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