UNCASVILLE, Conn. – Ricky Bandejas isn’t fighting for the championship Friday, but he gets a pretty good alternative in headlining Bellator’s first event since the coronavirus pandemic, when he takes on Sergio Pettis.
Bandejas (13-3 MMA, 3-2 BMMA) will meet Pettis (19-5 MMA, 1-0 BMMA) in the bantamweight headliner of Bellator 242, which takes place Friday at Mohegan Sun Arena and marks the organization’s first fight card since March.
Bellator president Scott Coker recently told MMA Junkie that a vacant 135-pound title fight between Juan Archuleta and Patrick Mix was targeted to headline, but it didn’t come to fruition. He said he never considered putting a belt on the line for the fight that did materialize, but Bandejas wasn’t bothered.
Bandejas’ two Bellator losses have come against Archuleta and Mix, so he understands being left out. However, he said the matchup with Pettis is a pretty great alternative.
“I’m exactly where I thought I would be,” Bandejas told MMA Junkie on Wednesday. “Even though I had two losses, it didn’t seem to slow me down at all. I kept fighting and kept moving up, so I feel like I’m on track.”
Pettis has only one fight under the Bellator banner, but his name value is up there with anyone in the division, and arguably the Bellator roster as a whole.
It’s a big opportunity for Bandejas to prove his worth against someone who has wins over the likes of Joseph Benavidez, Brandon Moreno and John Moraga, and he knows it.
“I’m excited,” Bandejas said. “He’s been in there with the best and mixed up with the best guys at bantamweight and at 125, so I get to test myself against him. It’s going to be exciting.”
He might not be part of Bellator’s title-fight plans at the moment, but if Bandejas nets a signature win over Pettis, he said he’ll be right in the conversation.
“I think so,” Bandejas said. “Two fights, two knockouts, and I think a win over him could put me up next. I think I’ll be close.”
Original article: https://mmajunkie.usatoday.com/2020/07/ricky-bandejas-bellator-242-main-event-sergio-pettis-title-shot/