When the matchups for the Bellator Bantamweight Grand Prix got announced, Patchy Mix was overjoyed that the promotion gave him what appeared to be one of the toughest matchups in the opening round.
On Saturday night, Mix faces ex-champion Kyoji Horiguchi, who will look to bounce back from a stunning comeback loss to Sergio Pettis in a fight he was largely dominating through four rounds. Horiguchi has been flagged as one of the favorites to make it all the way to the finals with a chance to potentially reclaim a piece of the Bellator bantamweight title but Mix isn’t so sure why all the attention is being paid to his opponent.
“I’m not really impressed,” Mix told MMA Fighting. “This guy has beaten people who are masters at nothing. Since 2017, Kyoji Horiguchi has beat five different men and they include Hiromasa [Ogikubo], who has five losses. Kai Asakura, who has four losses. Darrion Caldwell, who he beat twice, [he] has six losses. Ian McMCall who has like eight losses and Ben Nguyen whose record is 17-9.
“Those are his most formidable wins in the last five years. He’s gotten knocked out stiff twice. I don’t look at his record and think he’s some monster. He made a career at 125 pounds and the level of competition at 135 pounds since he’s moved up is the best. I think I could beat every name on [his resume] and I’d finish them all.”
Mix has no problem dissecting Horiguchi’s record to prove that while the 31-year-old veteran is definitely good, he’s not an unstoppable machine who is just going to roll over the competition en route to an eventual rematch against Pettis down the road..
He even criticizes Horiguchi’s performance in that first fight prior to the shocking spinning back fist knockout delivered by Pettis because Mix saw one person trying to go for the finish and the other determined to win a decision.
“Credit to Sergio, he wasn’t really point fighting,” Mix said. “Kyoji was point fighting and Sergio’s trying to hunt him down and knock him out like he eventually did.
“Unfortunately he was one round away from winning but he lost and now he’s got me in the wrestle backs. He’s got me who is 15-1. I’m coming out there to hunt this little dude down, put him on the floor and we’ll see how he can endure my size, my length, my body triangles. I think I’m levels ahead of him on the mat.”
After leaving the UFC in 2016 following the end of his contract, Horiguchi started to really build his legend while competing in Japan as part of the roster in RIZIN.
It was there Horiguchi rattled off nine consecutive wins in a row before then traveling to a crossover fight with Bellator where he defeated then champion Darrion Caldwell.
As dominant as Horiguchi was during that time with seven finishes across those nine wins, Mix saw far more hype than reality, especially when he considered the size and accomplishments of the competition he faced during that time.
“That what it is — it’s the perception that people see [with Horiguchi],” Mix said. “The MMA world because he has so many accomplishments — go look at his opponents and tell me Patchy Mix couldn’t beat all the people he has ever beaten. I want to take his name because his name is so prestigious in the MMA world that I’m involved in. I want to take that name.
“If he was in the gym, I would probably need to submit him five times in a day just to sleep at night cause I know I could submit him five times. I’m thinking I have to do it in front of a crowd on Saturday night when all the attention is there, when the nerves are there and to be honest with you, I don’t put him on a pedestal. He just got knocked out by Sergio Pettis. Out cold. I know I have power to hit, too. I’m just thinking that I’m happy to finally get a name that is this prestigious. This is the highest ranked name that I’ve ever fought.”
Whether it’s a knockout or a submission, Mix plans to make a statement with his matchup against Horiguchi at Bellator 279 with hopes that he’ll then shift the narrative regarding the fighter most favored to win the Grand Prix tournament.
“I want to blow him out,” Mix said. “He’s tricky, he’s fast and I’m not taking anything away from him. He’s got good coaches and a good team and they’re going to come up with a good game plan. They’re going to try to touch and run. You can’t run from me the whole time. He doesn’t have the ability to stay away from me the whole time.
“I honestly feel that if I get a body lock on Kyoji Horiguchi, I will slice through his defense and I think I will find a pathway to his neck and I have a hundred ways [to finish the fight].”