After making a huge impact at the beginning of his Bellator MMA tenure, Ricky Bandejas has experienced a pair of setbacks to kick off 2019. He hopes to turn that around beginning this weekend.
Bandejas will face Ahmet Kayretli this Saturday at Bellator 225. The event will take place at Webster Arena in Bridgeport, Conn. and the bantamweight bout is scheduled to take place during the preliminary card.
The 27-year-old Bandejas started off his Bellator run with a first-round finish of fellow prospect James Gallagher to put fans, and fellow 135-pounders on notice. Since then, Bandejas lost a unanimous decision to Juan Archuleta at Bellator 214, and suffered a first-round submission loss at the hands of Patrick Mix at June’s Bellator 222 event.
Bandejas is motivated to return to action and get that sour taster out of his mouth.
“I’m extremely excited,” Bandejas told MyMMANews.com. “I haven’t gotten off on the right foot and I’m hoping to turn it around really quick, and ramp up some wins.”
Changes have been made since the loss to Mix a couple of months ago as Bandejas made the move from Nick Catone MMA in New Jersey to American Top Team in Florida. Bandejas is planning to make the move a permanent one, as he is scheduled to relocate to Florida on a full-time basis in September.
While Bandejas found a lot of success in New Jersey, the back-to-back losses would be the catalyst in pulling the trigger on a decision he’s been thinking about for quite some time.
“It was something that I’ve always struggled with,” Bandejas said. “When you’re going out there and winning, you really aren’t able to pull the trigger. After I lost two in a row, why not now? Why not get some change in my life and start fresh? I’ve learned that I have to commit more and be all-in with this. I just need to train. Train, train, train.”
Bandejas will share the cage with Ahmet Kayretli, a Virginia fighter who is looking to get back in the win column as well. Kayretli has spent his last four fights competing for LFA, putting together a 2-1, 1 no contest record during his tenure with the promotion. Most recently, the 30-year old suffered a third-round submission loss to Levi Mowles at LFA 62 in March.
According to Bandejas, a fight between he and Kayretli was put on the table a couple of years ago while both were competing under the CFFC banner.
“We were supposed to fight once or twice (in CFFC),” Bandejas said. “For some reason, on his part, the fight didn’t follow through. I was pretty surprised when they offered me him, now. I’m on a two-fight losing streak so maybe he has some confidence, maybe it’s just a bigger stage, bigger reward. I think he thinks he’s going to come in and give me my third loss.”
While Bandejas believes Kayretli has signed the dotted line to, essentially, kick him while he is down, he has a lot of respect for Kayretli and is certainly not looking past him. From a stylistic perspective, Bandejas feels it is the perfect first step to getting back to the top tier of the Bellator bantamweight division.
“He’s tough,” Bandejas stated. “He has a lot of experience, really good standup, and I like my style matching up against anybody. I mix it up well with anybody, I can mix it up anywhere so I’m hoping to go out there and show that. I’m hoping to exploit his ground game, his standup, and any holes I see in his game. I’m going to show that.”
A win will certainly be a positive thing for Bandejas, but it, ultimately, will not completely satisfy him on Saturday night. For Bandejas to reach that feeling, he needs to get his hand raised and do it in impressive fashion — which is what he intends to do this weekend in Bridgeport, Conn.
“I’m the kind of guy where just getting a win is not gonna make me that happy,” Bandejas said. “I need to go out there, I’m gonna dominate and show that this is a start to a kill streak. I’m firing for a finish and prove to everybody that I’m still a threat at 135 pounds.
“I see a finish happening. I’m not sure how, but I’ll be pushing the pace, using my cardio, and I’m just going to grind on the guy until he breaks and it will be his choice on how he finds a way out.”
MMA is not like the NFL, if you lose back-to-back games in the NFL, it can be detrimental in the standings. While no fighter likes to taste defeat, it’s a part of the individual stories of these amazing athletes. Losing helps you learn, evolve and grow as a fighter, and as a person.
Bandejas is well-aware that in MMA, losses sting, but they don’t have to define you. With that mentality, Bandejas looks to begin that career resurgence on Saturday night at Bellator 225.
“In this sport, you win a fight, you lose two fights, you’re usually forgotten,” Bandejas explained. “Those losses don’t define you. If I go out, dominate some opponents, it puts me back on the top of the food chain. There are some guys who are out there dominating that don’t get the attention they deserve, so it’s definitely a crazy sport in that way.
“To finish off the year, I definitely want to dominate this guy and get another fight in (before the year is over). I wish I could get 10, but if I can get one more fight before the year is over, dominate that one and it makes me .500 for the year.”