Ricky Bandejas: “I’m exactly where I planned to be”

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Bellator 214 hosts many of the promotions stars young and old. At the top of the bill, legend Fedor Emelianenko battles Ryan Bader in Bellator’s Heavyweight Grand Prix. In the co-headlining bout, the powerful young phenom, Aaron Pico battles a tough up and coming prospect in Henry Corrales. Also on the card, a welcome newcomer in his second bout with Bellator, Ricky Bandejas. Bandejas takes on Juan Archuleta in a throwdown between two talented strikers.

Not only is this battle a testament to match-making within the organization but it also highlights some of the organizations young, bright athletes. Bandejas rides into Bellator 214 on the high of an exhilarating knockout of the outspoken SBG fighter, James Gallagher. The tremendous knockout earned Bandejas a significant amount of fanfare.

This growth in exposure and popularity presents a great opportunity for the New Jersey resident. It grants him an opportunity to propel himself onto the scene. With a stellar record stained with tough and talented fighters (Tony Gravely, Jordan Morales, Merab Dvalishvili), Bandejas not only has the skills for a bump to the big time but the resume also.

Bandejas spoke with MMASucka ahead of his high-profile matchup at Bellator 214. Here is an abbreviated transcript of that conversation:

Ricky Bandejas Q&A

Q: How are you feeling a nearly a week out from the fight?

RB:  I feel real good. Weight cut started, camp went great I’m feeling awesome.

Q: Are you looking forward to traveling to a new area that is actually warm at the moment?

RB: I’ve never been to California, I’m looking forward to it. I’m used to fighting in another place and when you’re done you get to walk around a little bit and sight-see. It’s going to be exciting to go out there and get the warm weather. Now you go outside and it’s pretty cold out.

Q: Before your debut with Bellator, you fought and beat top competition. Do you think your impressive debut put you where you belong?

RB: I think it got me the recognition I deserved but prior to that fight, I knew who I was. [James] Gallagher, I’ve fought tougher guys in the regionals than him. Him being 7-0 but you look at who he fought, he never did fight anybody. Now I’m fighting Archuleta that’ll put me where I think I’m going. If you beat him, you can put yourself with some of the best 35ers in the world

Q: Do you think a victory would land you a shot at the bantamweight title?

RB: Him being 21-1, me being 11-1, I catch imagine the winner not getting a title fight. Caldwell beat everybody in the division pretty much.  I don’t think there’s any big names he hasn’t beat, I can’t imagine us not getting a title fight. I can definitely see that. He’s on a 15 fight win streak, I’m on 6. And like I said, Caldwell pretty much beat everybody already. I can’t imagine the winner not getting that fight.

Q: Do you think its an advantage for you that your opponent is moving down to the bantamweight division?

RB: I don’t think so. He’s a veteran, he’s 21-1. He wouldn’t have made the move if he wasn’t comfortable doing it. He’s putting his record on the line, I don’t think he would make a move like that. Knowing that at 145 he’d be 4-0, or 3-0.

Q: How do you feel your styles match up, being that both of you possess high-level MMA striking?

RB: I think my striking is just that much better. I got a little reach on him. He throws a lot of wild punches, I throw straight. I use a lot more kicks than him. So I think striking wise we can definitely take him.

Q: Do you expect for there to be grappling in this matchup?

Absolutely, I know in a lot of his fights he tries taking it to the ground. A lot of people think I’m a stand-up guy, I’m on three or four fights knockout. Prior to that my wrestling in amateur that’s how I won, my grappling was very good. So if it goes to the ground it’ll be exciting to see who gets the better positions.

Q: Are you ahead of schedule when it pertains to your goals in this sport?

RB: I think I’m exactly where I planned to be, 11-1. If I beat [Juan] Archuleta  I think that’s going to put me ahead of schedule. I think that’s going to put me at somewhere I didn’t expect to be at 12-1.

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Brian Gerson is a sports journalist based out of Boston, Massachusetts, specializing in Mixed Martial Arts. He loves animals, fights, and animals fighting. He has met and spoken with countless athletes from the New England region and beyond.

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