With the vacant Bellator bantamweight championship on the line at Bellator 246, Juan Archuleta proved veteran savvy and a tight gameplan can overcome the flash of an undefeated submission specialist. Archuleta took a clear unanimous decision victory over Mix in the main event from Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut to capture the 135-pound title.
Moments after the fight began, Mix took the fight to the ground, looking to finish like he had in 10 of his 13 victories entering the night. He succeeded on a second takedown moments later, but Archuleta again worked back to his feet, landing a good combination of punches on the exit. Mix followed up on Archuleta's attack by ducking under a punch, taking the back and putting the fight right back on the ground. Archuleta again survived a dangerous spot, fending off rear-naked and arm-triangle choke attempts until the round came to a close.
In Round 2, Archuleta found himself yet again being forced to survive an extended period with Mix on his back fishing for chokes and dominating the grappling exchanges. But Archuleta continued to escape danger and do good work, especially to the body, whenever he had the opportunity to do so.
Mix's inability to score the finish in the first two rounds was ultimately his undoing. After Round 2, Mix would not score another takedown and Archuleta's striking proved to be on another level.
Beginning in Round 3, Archuleta used his footwork to move around the cage, circling and picking spots to tag Mix with heavy punches. Archuleta also never took his focus off working heavy shots to Mix's body, trusting in a gameplan that involved wearing the less experienced Mix out down the stretch.
By the final round, Mix had entirely abandoned takedowns and was simply getting outstruck round after round. Mix never stopped trying to make something happen on the feet, but he lacked the skills to cut off the constantly moving Archuleta while getting tagged repeatedly with power shots.
In the end, Archuleta's ability to survive the early scares on the ground before taking over late was enough to win him the fight on the judges' scorecards, winning by scores of 49-46, 48-47 and 48-47.
Following his victory, Archuleta gave credit to a teammate and UFC veteran for helping him stick to a plan after Archuleta came up short in his first title opportunity, a loss to featherweight champ Patricio Pitbull at Bellator 228.
"After I lost my Pitbull fight I was so devastated. There was one man who pulled me out of the trenches and I owe this to him. Cub Swanson, he showed me how to battle through adversity, how to fight someone who is an undefeated jiu-jitsu fighter, stick to a gameplan. He said, 'I promise you, you fight like that and you walk home with the title.' Guess what? I'm walking home with the title."