In The Mix: Five Things to Consider About Gallagher vs Mix

On November 5, 2021 we will have a matchup between former title challenger Patrick “Patchy” Mix and high profile Irish superstar James “Strabanimal” Gallagher.

This is a title eliminator bout between two of the young stars in Bellator.

Both fighters have suffered high profile setbacks, Mix challenged Juan Archuleta for the Bellator Bantamweight title; after a hot start where he was a step or two from finishing Archuleta, Mix slowed down and then walked down by the steady pressure and physicality of Archuleta.

Gallagher rocketed up the official rankings and the rankings as it pertains to profile/popularity before being brutally dispatched by Ricky Bandejas; much like Mix, Gallagher started out hot, backing Bandejas up and picking him apart to some degree. Unlike Mix who was beaten from pillar to post in a unanimous decision, Gallagher was suddenly and brutally stopped inside of one round against Bandejas.

Both have rebounded, Gallagher went 4-0 in the past three years winning three by submission and one by decision; for his part Mix has rebounded with a decisive win over Albert Morales, now both are once again on the precipice of greatness.

Today I am taking a look at the match up, addressing the fivehings that will determine the direction and ultimately the winner of the fight.

5) Athleticism Matters – In this matchup Patchy Mix has a sizeable advantage in the area of athleticism; he is able to jump into advantageous positions and get out of or counter bad positions. I am not discounting his skills as a grappler, as they are substantial, but his ability to easily flow from position to position, or snatch submissions or win scrambles versus experienced and physical opposition is in large part due to athleticism.

The agility, explosiveness, fluidity that allows him a lot of creativity in regards to entries, exits, leads and counters on the ground; most importantly when mixed with his aggression it makes a guy (Mix) who is a serviceable striker into an effective striker because of the explosiveness and power backing up his skill set.

James doesn’t have those tools, meaning he can’t always dictate where a fight takes place, how long it stays in that range; because he doesn’t have the horsepower necessary to get respect i.e. speed up or slow down fights. Mix has been able to impose his will, backing up, and controlling/finishing much more physicality and physically gifted opponents than Gallagher has. 

4) Durability – Both fighters have been used to having fights their way, often finishing opponents in 1-2 rounds; but when each fighter wasn’t able to get a finish, when an opponent started firing back, pressuring them and putting punishment on them Gallagher was finished.

The other fighter, Mix, was able to survive twelve rounds versus an experienced, active and physically punishing fighter who has been done similar things during his time in Bellator; whereas Gallagher was finished by a guy who hasn’t been able to find a way to win a fight since upsetting James, in fact Mix dispatched this guy in short order and dominant fashion.

If the fight gets messy, if one of the fighters ends up on the bad side of an exchange or gets caught in a position where they have to work their way through abuse; you have to favor Mix, as he is the only one proven that he can and will find a way to survive if not win. Meaning Mix is free to take more chances, actively look for finishes, and apply more pressure because he knows he can take what is coming back at him; something we cannot say with any confidence about Gallagher.

3) Athleticism II (The gift and the curse) – Mix’s athleticism allows him the freedom not be as strategic, defensively sound, offensively balanced; nine times out of ten he can overwhelm people with aggression, he can get to his spots quickly and turn a spot that would get you control, into a position that gets a finish.

In the one instance he couldn’t completely overwhelm his opponent, not only did he tire; which greatly hindered his pace and aggression, the limitations in his game were exposed. Mix wasn’t able to get away from strikes or limit his opponents ability to attempt them, he couldn’t work his way into or out of positions, he had no way to set up his own strikes or entries for takedowns or clinches. Mix’s athleticism is a double edged sword, it’s a cheat code which makes fights easier because he doesn’t HAVE to be as good or technical as other guys; but when his athleticism does not lead to quick finishes that lack of attention to detail and diversity in his skill set leaves him ineffective and unprotected.

Gallagher doesn’t have that problem, he never had that X factor to lean on, so he never had the luxury of skipping steps in regards to his skillset or consistently being recklessly aggressive in how he fights. James had to be able to maintain pace, defensive responsibility, and offensive structure/efficiency; something Mix failed to show the ONE time he didn’t have his way in a fight, there was no adjustment, no plan B. He just was slowly beaten up and broken down on the way to a loss; Mix was good enough to take a beating for three rounds, not good enough to turn the fight around, or even slow Archuleta’s momentum.

Gallagher on the other hand has shown some ability to adjust and slow momentum or reestablish/regain his own.

2) Versatility – Mix has won in one way, using attribute based style of fighting, and getting quick finishes; the point of emphasis is just enough striking..mixed with aggression to get the fight into grappling range where he can have his way. He hasn’t shown the ability to win longer fights, he hasn’t shown the ability to win a fight when he cant overwhelm an opponent, he hasn’t shown any strategic or defensive awareness on the feet.

Gallagher has shown structured striking in that he can attack multiple levels, manage distance, and create openings for takedowns; he has also been able to win being on the front foot or the back, controlling an opponent or getting in position and finishing an opponent.

Even though Mix has beaten better opposition, his path to victory isn’t just predictable it’s terribly one note; if he can’t get you with forward pressure, athleticism, he most likely won’t get you. He hasn’t shown the poise, width of skill or depth of skill necessary to win a fight any other way; Gallagher on the other hand has at least shown some wrinkles in his old game…which brings me to three.

1) New Wrinkles – Gallagher has taken to expanding his training, working with James Krause; clearly SBG developed a good system of fighting for him; one that minimized some of his physical limitations and technical limitations. But as was exposed in the fight with Bandejas, what James had wasn’t as effective as he would like when the level of opposition raised, or when he wasn’t in complete control of a fight; so instead of sitting pat, he expanded his skillset by going abroad and getting a different set of eyes on him.

A lot of Gallaghers issue was an inability to transition to different ranges, especially when under duress; he said himself he had a hard time finding a flow where he can blend ranges instead of treating them as completely separate entities that create opportunities for you to get from one range to another. Now Gallagher has put time into establishing a sense of fluidity and connectivity that will allow him to be able to minimize the holes game defensively and maximize the strengths he has in his game offensively. 

The issues that Mix has shown aren’t as easy to fix, it’s not just as simple as a change of perspective and it’s not something that can be fixed in short order; especially when you have been so successful at the highest levels.

When you are used to fighting with an advantage it takes a special person to ignore them and do things with deliberateness and technical awareness; don’t believe me ask BJ Penn, Ovince St. Preux, Ketlen Vieira, Anthony Pettis and many many others in mixed martial arts

This is an important fight, Mix has pressure because another high profile loss takes him out of the title mix for the foreseeable future; at least for the next 1-2 years minimum, but as far as his quality as a fighter and how he has been received he is a made man in Bellator. 

So a loss isn’t the end of the road for him, it just means he has limitations that need to be addressed for him to get over the hump to being a legitimately elite guy in Bellator; it will show he hasn’t grown and has changes he needs to make to be the fighter he wants to be.

Gallagher’s position is completely different from Mix, he has feasted on 3rd and 4th tier opposition, yes he has looked spectacular in winning these fights. But the fact of the matter is he hasn’t beaten top shelf opposition and the one time the level of opposition raised, his ability to win fell off a cliff; as soon as he had to take as much as he gave he was finished and finished in a dynamic fashion.

If Gallagher loses then there will be questions regarding Bellator’s ability to judge talent, their willingness to protect fighters and a complete inability to develop talent. He will be seen as a worse hype job than Michael Venom Page, who had wins over serviceable opposition (Cyborg) and very good opposition (Paul Daley). James Gallagher has none of that and he is very very aware of that, this is a fight that can determine whether he really is a legitimate fighter or if he is another under developed and over protected fighter who was gifted fame, fortune and opportunity.

On November 5th, more is on the line than a potential title shot; we have a crossroads fight for two guys who are way too young to be at this stage in their careers; whoever wins will not only establish themselves as the next title challenger, they will also establish themselves as truly legitimate top shelf fighters and potentially world champions.