Ricky Bandejas considers himself lucky.
He competed on Bellator 240, the promotion’s last card before the COVID-19 pandemic and will headline the promotions first event back against Sergio Pettis at Bellator 242 this Friday, July 24.
The opportunity of his first Bellator main event came at a time when he least expected it. With the current state of the coronavirus, Bandejas decided to sit back for once.
Instead, he received the call to fight Pettis at the Mohegun Sun Arena in Uncasville, CT.
“I was just hanging out, enjoying my time off, corona, I wasn’t in a rush to get back and then my management called with this fight,” Bandejas said.
“You can’t say no to any fight, let alone a big fight like this.”
Ricky Bandejas Staying lucky
Bandejas was all for spending time with his wife and three kids at their home in Florida. The couple is even expecting their fourth child.
Plans changed for the Bandejas family as he prepared for his third fight since moving to American Top Team this past August.
Bandejas is unbeaten since making the change, earning back-to-back knockout victories against Ahmet Kayretli and Frans Mlambo. Fighting someone like Pettis is the type of bout Bandejas eventually wanted when signing with Bellator back in 2018.
The 28-year-old is 3-2 under the Bellator banner with his losses coming from Patrick Mix and Juan Archuleta. Bellator President Scott Coker told Mike Heck of MMA Fighting, he expects Mix and Archuleta to fight for the vacant bantamweight title.
All three of Bandejas’ victories come by knockout, including his promotional-debut win over James Gallagher at Bellator 204 in August 2018.
Pettis is the type of name Bandejas is looking for. The former CFFC champion still considers Pettis similar to past opponents.
“His [Pettis] standup is really well and I fought a guy who had over 200 kickboxing fights and he had a standup that is really well,” Bandejas said. “He is a good submission guy, Gallagher was a good submission guy, so I’ve definitely faced guys like him before.”
Pettis signed a multi-fight deal with Bellator this past October after competing 14 times inside the octagon. Pettis made the move while ranking as one of the top flyweights in the UFC.
He made his Bellator debut by earning a first-round submission win against Alfred Khashakyan at Bellator 242 on Jan. 25.
“It’s a big promotion, so they have some of the most elite guys in the world,” Bandejas said. “Somebody like Sergio, who was in the UFC, has credible wins, was ranked top 10, top five, it definitely makes you take a step in the right direction.”
With wins over Mlambo and Gallagher of SBG, his rivalry with the Ireland-based gym is very much alive. The gym has a number of fighters in the Bellator bantamweight division, including Brian Moore.
If victorious on Friday, Bandejas plans to return in the fall to face another SBG rival.
The chance to fight Pettis was a no brainer according to Bandejas. Any other plans can wait as Bandejas heads to Connecticut.
Opportunity is calling.
“It’s a big test, he fought some of the best guys in the world, former champs, No. 1 contenders, so I’m excited,” Bandejas said. “I think overall I’m a better fighter.”