As Raufeon Stots and Patchy Mix have advanced in the Bellator Bantamweight World Grand Prix, so have the rewards. Bellator 295 hosts the tournament finals on Saturday night with an interim championship, a $1 million prize and a potential fight with Bellator’s all-time best at stake.
Stots (19-1) became the face of the Grand Prix following the withdrawal of bantamweight champion — and former training partner — Sergio Pettis due to injury. Stots scored a shocking head-kick knockout of Juan Archuleta to acquire the interim bantamweight championship in the quarterfinals. In the aftermath of a weird win over Danny Sabatello in the semis, Stots is brimming with confidence.
“If we end up standing, bro, you ain’t dictating a god damn thing. You can’t dictate a god damn thing,” Stots told CBS Sports of Mix. “You’re going to react to what the f— I got to do. I feel like that’s where our skill sets differ. I feel like I’ve shown, and this is in fights, that I’m a better striker. He hasn’t shown that in fights. He got pieced up by, what’s that kid’s name? James Gallagher. He got pieced up by Gallagher.”
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Mix (17-1) has no doubt in his mind that his grappling will overwhelm Stots despite the interim champion’s wrestling credentials. Mix emerged as a darkhorse contender in the tournament after defeating Grand Prix favorite Kyoji Horiguchi. He emerged as the betting favorite after choking out Magomed Magomedov in the semifinals. For Mix, Stots is not the end goal but the first step towards superstardom. After that comes a title unification fight against Pettis or, potentially, two-division champion and all-time great Pitbull.
“If you look at my Horiguchi fight, I was able to get a takedown in the first 10 seconds of Round 5 because I’m working so much harder inside the gym. I’ve completely changed my training habits and my lifestyle,” Mix told CBS Sports. “Now it’s my time. I’m fully mature this time. I’m three years older. I’m not coming for one title, I’m coming for many. This is just my step towards my first. This is my step into stardom. I’m going to win the Grand Prix title. I’m going to snatch Raufeon Stots’ interim belt off his arm and I’m taking that $1 million from him. I’m going to make him quit. He’s going to give me that $1 million on Saturday.”
The undercard fills out with some more Hawaiian flair. Hometown hero Ilima-Lei Macfarlane is back in a women’s flyweight fight against Kana Watanabe in the co-main event. The winner of Saturday’s bout will be in prime position to claim the next shot at Liz Carmouche’s title, which she defended on Friday night against DeAnna Bennett. Plus, perennial featherweight contender Aaron Pico looks to bounce back from a nasty shoulder injury when he takes on James Gonzalez. And another Hawaiian, Yancy Medeiros, looks to build off his win last April when he takes on Charlie Leary at welterweight.
Below is the rest of the fight card for Saturday night with the latest odds from Caesars Sportsbook before we get to a prediction and pick on the main event.
Bellator 295 fight card, odds
|Patchy Mix -135||Raufeon Stots (ic) +115||Interim bantamweight title|
|Kana Watanabe -140||Ilima-Lei Macfarlane +120||Women’s flyweight|
|Aaron Pico -800||James Gonzalez +550||Featherweight|
|Yancy Medeiros -330||Charlie Leary +260||Welterweight|
- Date: April 22 | Start time: 11 p.m. ET
- Location: Neal S. Blaisdell Arena — Honolulu, Hawaii
- TV Channel: Showtime
Raufeon Stots vs. Patchy Mix: Mix is rightfully a small favorite heading into the finals. His win over Magomedov was very impressive. Meanwhile, Stots had a snoozer against one-dimensional wrestler Sabatello. Stots took responsibility for his performance against Sabatello, a fight where he was repeatedly held down. Stots told CBS Sports he was so dismissive of Sabatello that he didn’t train with wrestlers ahead of the fight. The interim champ appears far more prepared for Mix, training with UFC fighters Cory Sandhagen and Ryan Hall to prepare for Mix’s suffocating grappling and threatening submissions.
Stots has the speed and striking advantage but must show more resilience with his defensive wrestling. Mix must dictate the terms of the exchange if he wants to get ahead on the scorecards. The most likely outcome is that Mix, the bigger fighter, crowds and neutralizes Stots while searching for a submission. It’s a toss-up, one Mix wins more often than not, but something is whispering in my ear that Stots will edge out the late rounds for a close decision win. Stots via split decision