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An injury to Kyoji Horiguchi forced the Japanese superstar to vacate the Bellator MMA bantamweight throne nearly 10 months ago. Plans to fill the seat are finally moving forward.
Juan Archuleta will face the unbeaten Patrick Mix to decide the fate of the 135-pound championship in the Bellator 246 headliner on Saturday at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut. The 32-year-old Archuleta has rattled off 19 wins across his past 20 appearances, establishing himself as legitimate threat in multiple weight classes. He last fought at Bellator 238, where he took a unanimous decision from Henry Corrales on Jan. 25. Mix, meanwhile, has been a revelation since he joined the Bellator roster in 2019, scoring consecutive first-round submissions against Ricky Bandejas and Isaiah Chapman. He last appeared at Rizin Fighting Federation 20 on Dec. 31, when he dispatched Yuki Motoya with a guillotine choke in just 97 seconds.
As Archuleta and Mix approach their high-stakes showdown, a look at some of the numbers that have accompanied them to this point:
32: Years of age for Archuleta, who was born in Hesperia, California, on Sept. 13, 1987.
1: Submission loss on the Archuleta resume. He surrendered to an Andres Ponce triangle choke at World Series of Fighting 19 in 2015. Strangely enough, Archuleta followed it with the only submission win of his career, as he put away Alex Valdez with a brabo choke under the Gladiator Challenge banner a little more than six months later.
12: Archuleta wins by decision, accounting for half of his career total (24). He owns a 12-1 record in fights that go the distance, a five-round September 2019 encounter with Bellator featherweight champion Patricio Freire resulting in his only misstep on the scorecards.
18: Consecutive victories for Archuleta between Oct. 10, 2015 and June 14, 2019. The winning streak featured nine finishes and nine unanimous decisions.
24: Seconds needed by Archuleta to put away Brandon Hastings with punches at a King of the Cage event in March 2017. It remains the fastest finish of his 26-fight career.
27: Years of age for Mix, who was born in Angola, New York, on Aug. 16, 1993.
9: Submission wins on the Mix resume, accounting for 69 percent of his career total (13). His methods of choice: five rear-naked chokes, two guillotines and two kneebars.
2: Successful title defenses by Mix as King of the Cage flyweight champion. He laid claim to the title with a rear-naked choke submission of Andre Ewell in November 2017 and retained it with subsequent finishes against Tony Gravely and Keith Richardson. Mix was stripped of the belt when he signed with Bellator in 2019.
8: First-round stoppage victories to Mix’s credit. They include his 51-second rear-naked choke submission of Alberto Martinez Jr. under the King of the Cage flag on Feb. 25, 2017 and his 66-second rear-naked choke submission of Bandejas at Bellator 222 on June 14, 2019.
4: Promotions in which Mix has competed as a professional mixed martial artist. He has gone 9-0 in King of the Cage, 2-0 in Bellator, 1-0 in Rizin Fighting Federation and 1-0 in Prodigy MMA.