No one wins 21 consecutive fights without going through adversity, and Patrick Mix is no exception. For Mix, the action in the cage has rarely been a problem. He has never lost as an amateur (10-0) and never lost as a professional (10-0). He’s finished 15 of his 21 fights, and as far as he can remember, he’s never even dropped a round. But life? That’s been a different story.
Just 15 months into his amateur career, when Mix was 7-0 and considering going pro, he was locked into a tournament bout against Hector Fajardo for a promotion called Fighters Source. At the time, Mix’s girlfriend was 8 1/2 months pregnant, expecting their first daughter. Unfortunately, as she neared full-term, something went terribly wrong with the pregnancy and the baby could not be saved. In a moment of such unspeakable anguish, it would be understandable, and perhaps advisable, to take the time to grieve. But just four days later, Mix was “forced” to compete, he says, due to the stakes of the moment. The tournament champion was supposed to be awarded a contract with a major promotion, and as difficult as it was to look forward, he considered the potential implications of winning and toughed it out.
Mix somehow found the focus to win the fight, but the promotion did not honor its promise, he said.
Finally though, he has arrived on the big stage. At Bellator 222, Mix makes his major promotional debut facing Ricky Bandejas in Madison Square Garden.
It’s an auspicious arrival, yet one that comes among additional challenges. In January, Mix made the move to Albuquerque, N.M. to train with the vaunted Jackson-Winkeljohn team full time. While he’s convinced it’s been the right professional move, it has been difficult personally. Back in New York, he has a one-year old daughter named Miara that he misses terribly, and that he’s counting down the days to see again.
“I made the sacrifice to stay here and be away from my family. I wanted to get as good as I can inside and outside of fight camp, because my family’s future and my daughter’s future depends on it,” he told MMA Fighting. “I’ll make any sacrifice I have to in order to be the best in the world so that she doesn’t have to worry about the same things that my mom and I had to worry about growing up.”
Raised in Angola, New York, a small village about 20 miles outside of Buffalo, Mix grew up regularly fighting, largely he says due to a chip on his shoulder and an anger he couldn’t control.
By middle school though, the tide began to turn. He gravitated to wrestling, drawn by the opportunity to compete in sports with someone his size. A self-described small kid, Mix took to it right away, joining the Lake Shore High School varsity while he was in eighth grade.
As a sophomore in high school, where he would go on to become the first Lake Shore athlete to make the state tournament in 40 years, Mix met Dennis Brown, an aspiring professional fighter who asked Mix to come help him with wrestling. Almost instantly, he was obsessed.
“When I was young, like 15, I was tapping out guys that were amateurs and pros,” he said. “I took to it really well. I was never an explosive wrestler; I was always a technical wrestler and it translated well. I didn’t mind being in these weird positions. I was better at jiu-jitsu and MMA-style wrestling than I was at folkstyle, traditional wrestling.”
Immediately, Mix felt a pull toward MMA, but his path wasn’t a straight line. After a brief stay as part of the Niagara County Community College wrestling program, which boasts 2019 UFC Hall of Fame inductee Rashad Evans among its alumni, Mix took a job roofing. While he made good money doing it, he felt unfulfilled. Facing a crossroads moment, Mix quit his job to focus on training full-time.
He began his amateur career in the spring of 2014 and has yet to taste defeat. He has notable wins against UFC bantamweight Andre Ewell (via first-round submission) and experienced veterans Keith Richardson and Tony Gravely.
“It’s been great,” he said. “I’ve always believed in myself and surrounded myself with people who believe in me. It’s been an amazing ride. I wouldn’t say it’s been easy. Every day in the practice room, I experience downs. I just perform when the lights are on. That’s my best attribute, rising to the occasion.”
Seeking to supercharge his training and skill set, Mix moved to Jackson-Winkeljohn in January, where he’s been the entire year, save for two weeks where he returned to New York to fight in February. He trains with renowned fighters including Diego Sanchez, John Dodson and Aaron Pico as well as prospects like Edwin Cooper.
“I hold my own against almost every guy I’ve competed against in the gym,” he said. “I know my coaches and training partners believe in me and that I can be the next world champion.”
Mix characterizes himself as a well-rounded and dynamic pressure fighter who can finish from anywhere. He proved that last November, stopping Richardson with the rarely seen Suloev Stretch.
Bellator didn’t exactly roll out a red carpet for his arrival by matching him up with Bandejas in his promotional debut. Many will recall that it was Bandejas who knocked out then-undefeated prospect James Gallagher, briefly derailing his significant momentum.
For Mix, that’s just fine. If he’s going to climb the division, all of the contenders have to be scaled, and Mix is excited to finally take his first step. After all, at this point, adversity is almost a welcome sight.
“I’m looking forward to a very tough fight,” he said. “With a win, it can only prove that I’m as good as my coaches and I believe.”