Juan Archuleta finally got his Bellator world title at Bellator 246.
The main event of the evening was a barnburner between Archuleta and the undefeated grappling phenom Patchy Mix, and early on, it was all Mix who took advantage of an overaggressive Archuleta to score takedowns and dominate with ground game.
In the second round though, Archuleta was able to start turning the tide, escaping some of the bad positions and landing some big ground and pound. By the third round, Mix was noticeably slowed from Archuleta’s body work and had abandoned wrestling entirely, allowing Archuleta to tee off on him. That became the dynamic for much of the rest of the fight, with Mix marching forward and brawling and Archuleta circling, picking his shots, and landing in combination. In the fifth round, Archuleta came out like a house on fire, rifling hooks into the body of Mix and pulling away with the fight. In the end, Archuleta was awarded the unanimous decision victory and became the new Bellator bantamweight champion.
In the co-main event, one star ascended while another stepped away, with Neiman Gracie turning in the best performance of his career. The fight was one-way traffic from the jump with Gracie dominating the grappling exchanges and keeping Jon Fitch on the defensive. In the second round, Gracie was finally able to lock up a modified heel hook/kneebar that forced Fitch to tap out. After the bout, Fitch left his gloves in the center of the cage and announced his retirement from the sport after his 42-fight career.
In the flyweight fight of the evening, Liz Carmouche’s Bellator career got off to a good start, submitting DeAnna Bennett in the third round. Bennett surprised some by being competitive with Carmouche over the first two rounds, both on the feet and on the floor. In the third round though, Carmouche was able to sneak to the back up against the cage and lock on a rear-naked choke with lightning quickness, leaving Bennett no choice but to tap out. The win is Carmouche’s first stoppage victory since 2013 and immediately puts her on the short-list of challengers for her friend Ilima-Lei Macfarlane’s flyweight title.
In the main card opener, Keoni Diggs kept his undefeated streak in tact, earning a a late submission victory over Bellator stalwart Derek Campos. Campos was unable to get his game going, with Diggs landing the better shots on the feet and taking Campos down and out-grappling him for the balance of the fight. Then, with less than a minute left in the bout, Diggs managed to take Campos’ back and attempt a rear-naked choke. Though time was winding down and the choke didn’t look fully locked in, it clearly was as Campos went to sleep with only one second left in the bout. It was a complete performance from Diggs and announces him as a real threat to the Bellator ranks.