Ricky Bandejas is seeking redemption against fellow bantamweight Leandro Higo.
In just over two years with the Bellator, Bandejas has come close to title contention a number of occasions. His only defeat under the promotion came to current champion Juan Archuleta, former title challenger Patrick Mix and Sergio Pettis, who’s rumored to be next in line for a title shot.
Bandejas is set to face Higo on the Bellator 249 main card at the Mohegun Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut on Thursday, Oct. 15. Although it is the first time their paths will cross, the 28-year-old can see what a win over Higo would mean for him.
“We get so close and every time we take the next step, level off, we’ve seem to be losing,” Bandejas said during the Bellator 249 media day on Tuesday, Oct. 13.
“I’m hoping Thursday we can get the win, we come full circle and we redeem all of those losses.”
Ricky Bandejas shares similar Bellator journey with opponent
Like Bandejas, Higo has shared a similar Bellator path up to this point. He also suffered three losses, two to former bantamweight champions in Eduardo Dantas and Darion Caldwell.
Higo also suffered a first-round TKO defeat to Aaron Pico at Bellator 206 in September 2018. Higo has fought just once since then though. He re-entered the win column with a second-round submission win against Shawn Bunch at Bellator 228 in September 2019.
A former LFA champion and member of “The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil” season four, Higo is the type of opponent Bandejas is looking for. It’s a fight he hopes leads to someone else.”
“Anything, one of the top guys,” Bandejas said. “I see they signed all these guys, top prospects. Bellator, the bantamweight division, has a lot of them, so anybody.”
There are certainly options in the surging bantamweight division. A potential rematch with James Gallagher has followed Bandejas since he knocked out the Irishman at Bellator 204 in August 2018.
Gallagher is on a four-fight win streak since then. Another rumored bout with Gallagher’s SBG teammate Brian Moore is one that has circulated.
Since Bandejas finished another SBG prospect in Frans Mlambo at Bellator 240 this past February, a rivalry has been brewing between the Irish gym and the New Jersey native.
The promotion recently signed former UFC bantamweight Brett Johns, another name Bandejas showed interest in during the Bellator 249 media day.
At 3-3 under the Bellator banner, Bandejas has come close to a No.1 contender spot. Coming off a loss, he is looking to cement his place in a rising division.
“I think it’s stacked,” Bandejas said. “They signed so many prospects and so many guys for the last year or two. Guys with zero losses, one loss and I can’t wait to mix it up with all of them and see where I stand.”