Bellator 246: Archuleta and Mix Usher in New Chapter at Bantamweight

Juan Archuleta and Patrick Mix ahead of Bellator 246
Juan Archuleta and Patrick Mix Credit: Bellator MMA

Juan Archuleta and Patchy Mix have been on parallel paths for several years, but they will finally collide with championship gold on the line at Bellator 246.

“The Spaniard” Juan Archuleta is back in the position he had earned a little over a year ago in the Bellator bantamweight division.  Accumulating a 13 fight win-streak and winning titles in three weight-classes on the regional circuit in Southern California, Archuleta lived up to the hype when he entered Bellator in 2018.  He added another five victories to his run, starting at featherweight and dropping down to notch two victories at bantamweight to secure a shot at the 135 pound title.

Before he could challenge for the belt, things took a turn.  Then champion Kyoji Horiguchi was locked into a return to RIZIN where he was also the bantamweight champion in Japan.  Opportunity would still come knocking on Archuleta’s door in the form of an entry into the Featherweight Grand Prix and an immediate shot at reigning two-division Patricio “Pitbull” Freire last September.  Though he came up short in his bid to upset Freire, he bounced back with a featherweight victory against Henry Corrales in January.  Back at bantamweight, injuries to Horiguchi led to him being stripped of his titles last November and giving Archuleta another chance to fight for the belt he expected to challenge for last year.

Patchy “No Love” Mix has been on a parallel path with Archuleta for years, it just so happens that the two are now finally colliding at the second biggest promotion in America.  While Archuleta was claiming his titles in King of the Cage, Mix was building up his name as a prospect on the undercard at roughly the same time.  Though Archuleta was mostly doing work in the upper weight classes, Mix was competing exclusively at bantamweight.  Building up a 9-0 record in KOTC that included winning the title, Mix wasted no time upon arriving in Bellator.

He kicked off his start in the promotion with a first round submission over young prospect Ricky Bandejas that immediately announced his presence to the division.  Mix’s grappling prowess would soon get introduced to the masses, adding a Suloev Stretch over Isiah Chapman and a guillotine over Yuki Montoya — in the RIZIN cross-promotion event no less — to his resume. While newcomer Sergio Pettis is waiting in the wings and young prospect James Gallagher continues to build his way up the rankings, Mix has a great opportunity to carve out a legacy of his own after just a short time in Bellator by winning the title.

Stylistically, Mix figures to be able to impose his physicality as Archuleta is drastically far leaner when he cuts down to 135 pounds.  The more versatile Archuleta should look to keep the fight at mid-range and avoid getting into exchanges with Mix.  Mix figures to fight at close range where he will look to use his size and get to the clinch to work his way to the mat where he can use his superb jiu-jitsu.

A win for Archuleta would open several opportunities.  Sergio Pettis would be the foremost priority, but a potential return to featherweight and even a Bellator debut at lightweight are all on the table depending on the schedule.  Pettis remains the top contender for Mix as well, with the division wide open afterward and anyone’s guess where the champion would turn their attention to next.