With Bellator making it’s return to the MMA stage Friday, fighters competing on the show are hungry to get some big wins. Bellator hosted a media conference with all their main card fighters who will be competing at Bellator 242. The show is going to see a major bantamweight main event with Sergio Pettis vs. Ricky Bandejas. The co-main event will see the aptly named “Ass-Kicking Machine” Jason Jackson taking on former UFC fighter Jordan Mein in a welterweight clash.
In the other main card matches Aaron Pico takes on Solo Hatley Jr.and Tywan Claxton will face Jay Jay Wilson.
Ricky Bandejas vs. Sergio Pettis
Two of Bellator’s most accomplished bantamweights will meet with the winner possibly getting put into title contention. Both fighters are coming off exciting finishes in their most recent fights.
Bandejas said he sees Pettis as “another name with another big following and hype” that he’s looking to derail. “It’s going to be an end to that,” Bandejas said.
When asked about Pettis’ weaknesses, he said “he folds under pressure” and he’s going to look to utilize that pressure to win the fight.
When Sergio Pettis came to Bellator, he brought a lot of expectations and exceeded them with his submission win over Alfred Khashakyan. Despite this match being a potential title eliminator, he said his focus is only Bandejas at this point. “I’m not worried about the title,” Pettis said. “I’m going to fight out there the way I fight. I’m going to have fun.”
As for his thoughts on his opponent, Pettis is not downplaying Bandejas’ skills. “Anytime you fight it’s a threat,” he said. “He’s a good standup fighter.”
Jason Jackson vs. Jordan Mein
The co-main event of Bellator 242 will see fan-favorite Jason Jackson taking on a veteran of the game, Jordan Mein.
Mein is coming off a two-year layoff due to knee surgeries, COVID, and negotiations. With his return fight booked, he said he is at 100%. “I’m the strongest I’ve ever been. The most flexible I’ve ever been. My mental game feels strong, confident.”
Mein has been fighting as a pro since 2006 and his journey has taken him to Strikeforce and UFC. Being under the Bellator banner, he said getting a win isn’t going to simply cut it. “I can’t just go out there and get a win,” he said. “There has to be something impressive.”
Jackson since coming to Bellator’s welterweight division has seen him slowly climbing the ranks. His most recent win was against Kiichi Kunimoto and before that came very close to beating Ed Ruth, but lost by split decision. Even in that loss, his stock went up showing he can hang with high-level competition.
Jackson pointed to his strong determination as a big advantage over Mein. “He never grew up with the heart I was born with. He never developed the iron will,” he said.
The Jamaican born Jackson is predicting that great things will come with a win over Mein. “I feel like my time is coming. I need to keep working… we’re here and we’re going to keep moving forward no matter what.”
Tywan Claxton vs. Jay Jay Wilson
Tywan Claxton and Jay Jay Wilson are both top-level grapplers. Claxton comes from a highly decorated wrestling background. Four of Wilson’s five wins come by submission.
New Zealand born Wilson said he brought in wrestlers into his camp and has adapted that to his grappling game. “He’s a good wrestler,” he said. “We make those little adjustments.”
When asked about Claxton’s scary ground and pound, the BJJ brown belt Wilson said he is “not worried about [it].”
“My jiu-jitsu is another level. I highly doubt he’s going to be able to take me down.”
Claxton didn’t hold back his feelings on his opponent. “My wrestling would destroy his BJJ skills in a heartbeat… He’s never fought anybody like me… At the end of the day, he hasn’t had anybody on top of him beating the sh*t out of him.”
Claxton changed his camp to Elevation Fight Team in Colorado in preparation for this fight, crediting UFC welterweight champion Kamaru Usman with the suggestion of the change.
“I’m a white belt that’s about to whup your ass,” Claxton said.
Aaron Pico vs. Solo Hatley Jr.
Aaron Pico’s MMA journey has been filled with ups and downs. But since the move to Jackson Wink MMA, he has shown fast progress in honing his MMA skills. “I want to be smart in my fighting career,” he said. “Knockouts are cool but winning is cooler.”
When asked about his opponent, Pico pointed out Hatley Jr. is “a strong wrestler” and “he’s got power in his hands.”
“I’m not taking him lightly at all.”
Hatley Jr. has thrown some verbal barbs at Pico, saying he has a “Cody Garbrandt chin” but is not letting the trash talk get to his head. “I think he’s more star-struck,” Pico said. “I’m just focused on myself.”
Getting a win over Pico would be a big moment for Hatley Jr. Much of the promotion for the show has centered around Pico without much mention of his opponent. “After I win they’ll have no choice but to start promoting me,” he said.
Hatley Jr. is very confident going into the fight even though he is the underdog. He doesn’t think this fight will be any different than previous bouts. “Fighting him is not going to be nothing I’ve seen before,” he said. “He’s a real good fighter but he has a weak chin. He gets rocked a lot.”
Bellator 242 airs live on the Paramount Network Friday, July 24 at 10 p.m. EST from the Mohegan Sun Arena.