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Bellator 246 recap and highlights: Archuleta claims bantamweight title, Fitch retires in the cage

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MMA Mania brings you a post-fight recap, results, .gifs and interviews from another big show!

Bellator 214 Photo by Hans Gutknecht/MediaNews Group/Los Angeles Daily News via Getty Images

Bellator 246 “Archuleta vs. Mix” took place Saturday, September 12, 2020 at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut. The main event was designed to crown a new 135 lb. champion as the undefeated Patchy Mix (13-0) faced “The Spaniard” Juan Archuleta (24-2). The first round was all Mix, hitting takedowns early and late, and searching for a rear naked choke until he was in full mount on top at the bell.

Even though Mix continued to be slick with the takedowns, the openings for submission attempts didn’t emerge the way they did in round one, and Archuleta was the one doing damage with knees to the body and ground and pound late, arguably making it a 10-9 round for Archuleta even though commentary had Mix up two rounds.

There’s no argument either way about who won the third round — Archuleta all day. He ripped to the body consistently and methodically, and as Mix slowed down Archuleta started landing rights and lefts to the head with increased frequency. Mix could not hide his frustration with not being able to get the fight to the ground or land any good strikes.

Archuleta was complaining at the end of the fourth round that he got poked in the eye, but referee Jason Herzog didn’t call it. Either way he dominated the round with striking, making Mix chase him all around the Bellator cage, landing clean body and head shots whenever Mix would stop in front of him. Commentary had it two-all. On my cards it was Archuleta 3-1.

For the first minute of the fifth and the last 30 seconds of the same, Archuleta was absolutely merciless with the body shots. In the interim Mix was not able to do anything but occasionally flick out a head kick or a straight right hand, nothing that slowed Archuleta down even a little bit. Archuleta and Mix had to wait to hear what the judges thought as the time came to crown a new Bantamweight champion.

Archuleta was the winner by scores of 49-46, 48-47 X2 and spoke to John McCarthy.

“Oh my God. My family John, they deserve this. My teammates, they deserve this man. My country Spain, where my ancestors come from, the fighting Spanish, the conquistadors, they deserve this. They have fighting spirit, it shows in me. Spain I’m coming and putting this at the feet of the King and Queen, all the glory to God.”

They were joined by two tough Welterweights second from the top as Jon Fitch (32-7-2, 1 NC) went to war with submission specialist Neiman Gracie (9-1). Gracie had Fitch in danger multiple times throughout the first round with leg locks and armbars, but Fitch was able to escape and survive each time, getting to the bell but giving up the first round 10-9.

Gracie used his striking to set up his shots for takedowns, the takedown to look for submissions, and the inverted heel hook to get the submission he wanted. Once Fitch yelped in pain and tapped it was clearly all over in more ways than one — Fitch laid his gloves down in the cage after the fight. The official time was 4:47 of Round 2.

By explicit request from Neiman Gracie, John McCarthy interviewed Jon Fitch first.

“It’s been a long journey. My body’s been through a lot. I’ve got a lot of things I’m looking forward to in the future outside of the cage. It’s just time to go. Neiman’s the perfect guy or hand the crown off too. Hopefully I can come out to New York, help him polish up a little bit, and he’ll beat (Douglas) Lima.”

After the personnel in attendance gave Fitch an ovation, Gracie spoke to McCarthy too.

“He’s one of the best Welterweights of all time. People maybe don’t like his style but he beat everybody, you know, and I think he beat Rory for the title fight (too) so I consider him a champion. (I want) the champ or someone who is right there. I’m here for the belt and I will get it soon.”

In a Flyweight rankings contest, recent Bellator MMA signee Liz Carmouche (13-7) met up with DeAnna Bennett (10-6-1). Bennett came in well over the weight limit at 131.7 but Carmouche agreed to take the fight anyway, and seemed to have no trouble with her opponent’s size, muscling her to the ground and winning the battles against the fence. Her right hands punctuated the exchanges in the center and earned her a 10-9 round one.

Bennett turned the tables in the second round by securing a double leg takedown and consistently punishing Carmouche throughout the frame. For a short period of time Carmouche appeared to have a heel hook, but Bennett punched her in the ribs until she let it go with 40 seconds left, then did some heavy strikes on top to secure the round.

Both women knew they needed a big third round to break the tie, and the battles against the fence to secure a takedown were fierce. When it seemed Bennett might get the upper hand, Carmouche hit the switch and took her back. When Bennett tried to get free, Carmouche jumped on with both hooks in and secured a quick rear-naked choke submission at 3:17.

Carmouche spoke to “Big” John McCarthy next.

“It was difficult just because I was so excited going to Hawaii, seeing backstage (at) Bellator, seeing so many familiar faces I connected with. I just had that fresh (feeling) where I wanted to train as hard as I can, and then it was postponed and I was like ‘No! But it’s so close!’ Everybody’s kept me informed so I knew it was a matter of time and I just had to be ready. I felt some pops to her ankle, I thought I had it, it seemed like she was raising her hand to tap and just didn’t, she pulled through she did good with it. I knew in the third round I had to come out stronger. It was not going to go to decision, that’s not how I start in Bellator, that’s not how this new chapter is going to go, so I had to seize the opportunity when it showed. I want to start at the beginning and build my way up. I’m starting fresh, I have no ranking here, I want to work my way to the top and give everybody their due and the respect that they deserve.”

Last but definitely not least was a Lightweight fight sure to spark fireworks: Derek Campos (20-10) versus late notice replacement fighter Keoni Diggs (8-0).

Despite coming in heavy at 157 lbs. on the scale, Diggs did not look slow on his feet. He was frequently landing heavy leg kicks and hard left hands. He used his attacks to progress to a takedown and secure a back mount, where he fished for multiple rear naked chokes. Campos scrambled to escape late but still lost round one 10-9.

The second round featured no ground work but was an even more dominant performance. Campos tried to bring the forward pressure but ended up eating combinations with the hands, leg kicks that spun him around, and hard lefts to the body that couldn’t feel good. Diggs looked fully in control of the fight after 10 minutes of work in the Bellator cage.

Putting an exclamation point on an already strong short notice debut, Diggs stuffed every takedown attempt that Campos tried, then spun to take Campos’ back after a sprawl. Campos got to his feet but Diggs still had him from behind, and when Campos went down again Diggs went back to the rear naked choke again. Campos tried to gut it out to the bell but went out cold with one second left to go in the fight. Here’s how it looked.

For complete Bellator 246 results and coverage click here.