With the future shrouded in mystery, Bellator bantamweight champion Sergio Pettis and Grand Prix champion Patchy Mix will compete to be the head of the table at Bellator 301.
Will Pettis continue his reign at the top? 👊
Bantamweight champ @sergiopettis has been unstoppable under the #Bellator banner. He now faces the challenge of interim-champ @TeamMixMMA! #Bellator301 | Friday, 9pm ET / 6pm PT | @SHOsports 🇺🇸 pic.twitter.com/f0x9bunyza
— Bellator MMA (@BellatorMMA) November 15, 2023
Earlier this year, Sergio Pettis reminded everyone of who he was in the shark tank of the bantamweight division. Coming off an injury that required a year long layoff that kept him out of the Grand Prix, Pettis returned to action earlier this year and was able to stave off the celebrated longtime featherweight champion Patricio “Pitbull” Freire. It was a seminal moment; Pettis spoiled Freire’s hopes of being a three division champion and in doing so reintroduced himself to the masses who in 2023 have been spoiled by amazing performances from bantamweights worldwide.
When Pettis entered the UFC at 20 years-old in 2013 with an undefeated record of 9-0, he was a top prospect whom many had their eye on after his celebrated older brother had soared to great heights in the sport. After knocking on the door of title contention at flyweight, Pettis moved up to bantamweight and took the more immediate opportunities in Bellator in 2020. It is a move that has panned out well as he added Pitbull to a resume that also boasts former UFC champion Brandon Moreno, former Bellator champions Juan Archuleta and Kyoji Horiguchi, and more. Ahead of what could be the final Bellator event (or at least the iteration as we know it,) Pettis has an opportunity to further cement himself as the top bantamweight in the world outside of the UFC and be the centerpiece of the weight class in a new home.
Mix is coming for bantamweight gold! 🔥
— Bellator MMA (@BellatorMMA) November 8, 2023
But as respected as Pettis is, the man who could take it all from him is Patchy Mix. Mix is in the midst of a Fighter of the Year campaign of his own after stopping the surging champion Raufeon Stots in the finals of the Grand Prix with a first round jumping knee. The moment was a beautiful culmination of a professional career that began back in 2016 where he began tearing through the regional scene in King of the Cage and has seen Mix taste defeat only once 19 fights. Besides the victory over Stots, Mix had also bested Magomed Magomedov, fellow prospects James Gallagher and Ricky Bandejas, and UFC veteran Albert Morales under the Bellator banner.
Friday night could be a triumphant end to one chapter and the beginning of an epic new one for Mix. He is the one who rides more momentum behind the fashion in which he won the Grand Prix and his level of activity beforehand. If the PFL does indeed absorb Bellator next year, then the addition of the bantamweight division is expected to be among the first of many new changes. Should that happen and Mix be the one who is victorious, then it would be he and not Pettis whom the promotion builds the division around. Of course, that is even assuming things get that far. With so much uncertainty, it’s completely possible that Mix’s (or anyone else’s for that matter) contract would be dissolved and the UFC, ONE, or any other promotion could also vie for their services in free agency.
Only ONE can be UNDISPUTED! 🙌
Bantamweight champ @sergiopettis and Grand Prix winner @TeamMixMMA collide tomorrow night at the @WintrustArena. Who you got?#Bellator301 | Friday, 9pm ET / 6pm PT | @SHOsports 🇺🇸 pic.twitter.com/FqzTtF1rtv
— Bellator MMA (@BellatorMMA) November 16, 2023
Exactly where anyone goes from here in Bellator is anyone’s guess and an answer is unlikely to be provided on Friday night. However, what is certain is that Pettis and Mix are expected to fight in 2024 and the rights to their next fights will be a huge prize for the company that gets to promote their fights.