The first quarter-final of the Bellator bantamweight grand prix saw Kyoji Horiguchi paired up with Patchy Mix on the Bellator 279 main card.
A former champion in both Bellator and RIZIN, Horiguchi was looking to work his way back to a shot against Sergio Pettis, after being knocked out by the champ last year. Mix, who had had one shot at gold in Bellator, was looking for another.
Off the opening bell on Saturday in Honolulu, it was Japan’s Horiguchi on the outside, constantly moving. He attacked the lead leg of the taller, lanky Patchy Mix, but Mix was able to close the distance and take the back standing about a minute in. With a body triangle in place, Mix dragged the former champ to the canvas, hunting for a rear-naked choke. Horiguchi fought the hands and turned into Mix to defend, and would survive — but he’d spend the rest of the round stuck in that body triangle with Mix on his back.
Round two saw Horiguchi take some big swings, and perhaps show a little more care managing the distance against Mix. Lots of movement, in-and-out, laterally, but as a result, not a lot of engagement through the first two minutes. Not much changed as the round wore on. Horiguchi was nowhere to be found when Mix attacked, with lightning-quick speed and reflexes.
The third round started out with more of the same. Horiguchi would find some success with his left hook; he’d go to the body, while Mix did the same with a kick. Near the midway point, Mix secured a takedown, again taking the back as Horiguchi worked to get back to his feet. Mix was bloodied, having picked up a cut by an eye somewhere in the sequence. More importantly, he again had a body triangle in place. Mix peppered Horiguchi with short punches, trying to find a way under the chin. Horiguchi fought hands, turned in, and looked to reverse; Mix sensed the reversal coming, and re-positioned, regaining control.
Horiguchi would reverse just prior to the end of the round, much to the crowd’s delight.
Round four saw Mix sail over the head of Horiguchi with a high kick; a taller opponent might have had their night ended then and there. Horiguchi again relied heavily on superior movement and speed, while Mix attempted to connect as the Japanese fighter closed the distance. Horiguchi would wind up cut over the left eye, but it was a more competitive round given he entered and exited the frame on his feet.
An early takedown attempt from Patchy Mix in round five put Horiguchi on the defensive. He wound up hopping on one leg, finally made it up — but did so while carrying Mix on his back. Horiguchi landed several elbows to the thigh of Mix, who had a body triangle in place. Mix got a choke in, but it was across the mouth more than under the neck, and easily fought off. Mix was finally able to get the fight down with a little under three minutes remaining; he was still on the back, but Horiguchi soon reversed! Mix looked for a guillotine and used it to reverse! Horiguchi then had Mix on his back again, and would have him there pretty much until the end of the fight.
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It came down to the judges to determine who would move on in Bellator’s bantamweight grand prix — and it would be Patchy Mix, claiming a three-round unanimous decision. The semi-finals, and potentially a million dollars in prize money for winning it all, await.
Official Result: Patchy Mix def. Kyoji Horiguchi by unanimous decision (48-47, 48-47, 48-47)