The bantamweight division arguably has become the best and deepest weight class in the sport over the past few years.
The Bellator bantamweight grand prix highlights the top fighters competing at 135 pounds in the promotion, and the tournament semifinals are scheduled for Friday. Patchy Mix, who faces Magomed Magomedov in one half of those semifinal matchups, believes Bellator has done an incredible job building the bantamweight division to the point where the promotion’s 135-pound talent equals that of the UFC.
“If I assess the bantamweight division in Bellator and the UFC, I think we’re just as deep,” Mix told MMA Fighting. “It’s just as good as any division in the world. There’s fights that if you match them up that we’d win, and there’s bouts that you’d lose. But overall, it’s very deep.
“Look at the names. Myself, [Juan] Archuleta, [Kyoji] Horiguchi, Sergio Pettis, Magomedov, if you look at even [Enrique] Barzola was successful in the UFC up a weight class.”
To be clear, Mix isn’t attempting to fuel some sort of unnecessary rivalry. Instead, he’s standing up for Bellator, which he believes has just as much talent as their UFC counterparts. He regularly trains with many of the best fighters in the world at 135 pounds in the UFC, including reigning bantamweight champion Aljamain Sterling and top-rated contender Merab Dvalishvili; all three athletes train at Xtreme Couture in Las Vegas.
While there remains no argument that the UFC is the biggest promotion in MMA, Bellator has worked tirelessly to build the bantamweight division through home grown talent and carefully curated additions through free agency. The end result has been a thriving bantamweight grand prix that doesn’t even include the current champion Sergio Pettis, who suffered an injury that forced him out of the tournament.
Mix knows without a shadow of a doubt that he could hang with anybody competing in the UFC, but it’s not so much about saying one bantamweight division is better than the other.
Instead, he just wants to give Bellator’s 135-pound division the credit it deserves.
“If you look at them both, it’s just that their names over there have been promoted so long and they just fight each other,” Mix explained. “Dominick Cruz, no offense, who hasn’t won fights except maybe I think he beat Casey Kenney, but he hasn’t won many fights in years. But he doesn’t get knocked down the list but if he were to fight a guy like me, I would get him out of there. I feel like Bellator is just as deep.”