With long-reigning UFC champion Aljamain Sterling losing to Sean O'Malley, the winner of the Bellator 301 co-main event title fight between Sergio Pettis and Patchy Mix could have a legitimate claim to being the best bantamweight in the world.
Since claiming the Bellator bantamweight belt, Pettis has looked like a completely different fighter than he did during his time in the UFC. His incredible title run has been highlighted so far by winning a convincing decision over featherweight champion Patricio Pitbull, who at the time was the promotion's top pound-for-pound fighter.
Meanwhile, Mix has arguably put together an even more impressive run in the same time frame. The interim champion put an end to Raufeon Stots' 11-fight win streak with a nasty one-minute knee knockout. Since losing his last title shot to Juan Archuleta in 2020, Mix has also opened eyes with dominant performances against Magomed Magomedov and Kyoji Horiguchi.
Currently, the betting odds favor Mix as a -285 favorite on DraftKings Sportsbook. Pettis, despite being the undisputed champion and being ranked higher on Bellator's pound-for-pound rankings, comes back at +230.
Sergio Pettis vs. Patchy Mix prediction
Though Pettis has looked dominant as a champion since signing with Bellator, there are a lot of factors that favor Mix on paper.
Despite the Milwaukee native being the undisputed champion, Mix has arguably fought the tougher competition in recent years. Two of Pettis' signature wins as champion come over Juan Archuleta and Patricio Pitbull, both of whom were clearly past their prime at the time of their meeting. Pettis' other big win against Kyoji Horiguchi was a come-from-behind shocking spinning backfist knockout after Horiguchi controlled most of the fight through four rounds.
Mix has not only dominated every opponent he has faced since losing to Archuleta, but he has finished four out of the five opponents. Mix is massive as a bantamweight and uses his size and wrestling flawlessly. If Pettis wants to win, he cannot let Mix get a hold of him which is much easier said than done.
Even then, Pettis does not have a huge advantage on the feet. During Aljamain Sterling's title run, a lot was made of his size and length, both of which Mix mirrors. The interim champion may not be the cleanest striker, but neither Horiguchi nor Stots could get past the length and awkwardness of Mix, and Pettis will struggle as well.
For as great as his title run has been, it is hard to see a clear path to victory for Pettis. He has continued to shock fans and has pulled victory from the jaws of defeat before, but the way Mix has fought lately has certainly made him look like the best bantamweight in the world. Mix dominates once again, and caps off a breakthrough performance with a late finish.
Prediction: Patchy Mix by fourth-round submission