Bellator’s vacant bantamweight title was on the line in the main event of Bellator 246 on Saturday night. Which represented a huge opportunity for young, rising star Patrick Mix, and a second chance for Juan Archuleta, who found himself bounced out of the featherweight grand prix earlier than hoped when he faced 145lb champ Patricio Pitbull.
Mix had Archuleta down in the early part of the opening round, but that wouldn’t stick. Back on the feet, “The Spaniard” stayed mobile, circling, and landed his right hand. But he wouldn’t stay up for long, with Mix again taking the fight to the ground towards the end of the frame. Locking on with a body triangle, Mix worked to get an arm under the neck, then managed to transition to mount — only for time to run out.
Round two had the duo back on the ground early, in an awkward position with Mix inverted on Archuleta’s back. Archuleta spent a good amount of time trying to free himself, landing several elbows to the legs. But Mix transitioned to the back, locking on with a body triangle again. This time, he had a full two minutes to work. But towards the end of the round Archuleta escaped and unloaded some heavy strikes from the back of Mix.
Entering the third, there was a question as to whether Mix was slowing. Archuleta was ripping his opponent to the body. His combinations had real pop, and Mix appeared caught in the headlights. The third round saw a noticeable change in the flow of the fight, with Mix pulling back on the takedown attempts. As a result, Archuleta worked a stick and move game plan, continued to work the body, and took control of the round.
Heading into the championship rounds, Archuleta appeared the fresher fighter. The fourth round featured some controversy, as a kick to a downed Mix, perfectly legal, halted the action, as Mix was given time to recover. The kick was both blocked, and clearly aimed at the body, not the head, with the ref giving Mix an undeserved reprieve. The rest of the round played out on the feet, but depending on how the round was scored, that moment could be huge.
Round five saw Archuleta continue to have the edge on the feet. And Mix no longer appeared willing or able to get the fight to the ground. He tried a jump knee that fell short. Archuleta, however, was in and out at will. Every shot to the body was adding up. They’d clinch late in the frame, but the clock was becoming a factor.
Going the distance, the judges saw it for Archuleta. He claimed gold, and celebrated with a number of in-cage black flips.
Official Result: Juan Archuleta def. Patrick Mix by unanimous decision (49-46, 48-47, 48-47)