JW teammates take different paths to Bellator card

Saturday

Bellator 246: Patchy Mix vs. Juan Archuleta, Davion Franklin vs. Ras Hylton, several other fights. Streaming: DAZN. Prelims (Franklin-Hylton), 6:45. Main card (Mix vs. Archuleta), 8 p.m. 

Davion Franklin and Patrick “Patchy” Mix have a combined MMA record of 25-0, which is kind of like saying baseball Hall of Famer Hank Aaron and his brother Tommie combined to hit 768 home runs.

Mix, who’s scheduled to face Juan Archuleta for the Bellator bantamweight (135-pound) title Saturday at Mohegan Sun Casino in Connecticut, has 24 of those victories.

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Franklin, a heavyweight who’s matched against Ras Hylton, has one of them.

Nonetheless, undefeated means you’ve never lost. Mix and Franklin, teammates at Albuquerque’s Jackson-Wink MMA, both intend to stay that way.

They’ve come to Saturday‘s Bellator card by different routes.

Mix, an upstate New York native and a high school wrestling champion, is 13-0 as a pro after compiling an amateur record of 11-0. He’s  been training for MMA since he was 16. That was 11 years ago.

“I made my (competitive) debut about six-and-a-half years ago,” Mix said in a phone interview. “I trained for about four years until I was of age.”

Franklin, a Chicago native, went to high school in Minnesota, where he wrestled and played football. He then wrestled at Iowa Lakes Community College in Estherville, Iowa.

He made his MMA debut in February, at age 26, on a Bellator card — having had no amateur experience — with a first-round victory by TKO over JW Kiser.

Despite the late start, he said, “Everything I did was leading me to MMA. … This is my calling, for sure.”

The two teammates wound up at Jackson-Wink by different routes, as well.

Franklin, once he decided on an MMA career, simply walked in the door, introduced himself and began working out with Jackson-Wink’s growing roster of heavyweights.

“I came to the gym and was doing really good against the guys they had,” he said. “… Jackson-Wink knows talent when they see it.”

Mix, in contrast, caught the eye of Jackson-Wink coaches when he beat a J-W fighter, Nick Gonzalez, on a King of the Cage card in Salamanca, New York in May 2017. It was Mix’s fourth professional fight.

“I talked to (Gonzalez’s) cornermen and his coaches at the time,” Mix said. “They invited me out and showed me their roster of bantamweights, and I said, ‘You know, I can’t pass up this opportunity.'”

Both fighters say their training at Jackson-Wink gives them an advantage against any opponent they might face.

Whatever edge Hylton (6-4) might have in experience, Franklin said, or thinks he has, is trumped by the work Franklin gets in the gym.

“My training partners are in the UFC,” he said, citing in particular heavyweights Juan Adams (a former UFC fighter) and Maurice Greene. “… These are the guys that I sharpen my iron against.”

In preparation for Saturday‘s title fight, Mix said he’s worked at Jackson-Wink with Diego Brandao, Chris Brown and Aaron Pico, as well as with former J-W fighters John Dodson and Ray Borg.

“And it’s not just my training partners,” he said. “My coaches are the best in the world.”

Among them he listed Brandon “Six Gun” Gibson, Joey Villasenor, Harry St. Leger and his personal coach from New York, Dennis Brown, as well as J-W founders Greg Jackson and Mike Winkeljohn.

Like Franklin in his matchup against Hylton, Mix believes Archuleta’s edge in pro experience — the California fighter is 24-2 as a pro — is illusory.

“We actually have the same amount of wins, because he didn’t have an amateur career,” Mix said.

“So I don’t really think too much of him. I think I should go out there and handle him.”

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