Bellator 214’s Ricky Bandejas: Less Emotion, More on the Line

Bellator 214 Ricky Bandejas
Credit: Bellator/Lucas Noonan

Ricky Bandejas is looking to build upon his fantastic promotional debut at Bellator 214 when he takes on Juan Archuleta.

After a title-winning run with East Coast-based promotion CFFC, Ricky Bandejas got the call to join Bellator. The first fight he was offered was against hot commodity James Gallagher. A brilliant first-round knockout against the Irishman propelled Bandejas to a main card spot at Bellator 214, where he faces 21-1 Juan Archuleta.

Being booked against a fighter that the promotion has a lot of stock in can be a daunting task (Gallagher had two co-main event appearances and was booked for a main event after just four fights in Bellator), but Ricky Bandejas pounced at the opportunity as he explained in an interview with Cageside Press.

“I signed the contract about a month before I knew I was fighting Gallagher. Then I was offered that fight, and it’s a no-brainer. I knew that I would put him in his place, and that he was gonna make me look good once I knocked him out.”

And look good he did. While the knockout itself was excellent, Bandejas made waves by shouting at the prospect following the KO. The emotions leading up to the fight led to the aggressive celebration.

“A guy like that, coming up to you and barking, you hope you can knock out somebody like that. But when it happens, it’s surreal, you can’t help it.”

Gallagher and Bandejas’ current opponent, Juan Archuleta, are night and day. There is no pre-fight disrespect, and no crazed fans denouncing Bandejas in support of his opponent.

“It’s a lot easier on the mind now. Every time I turned around there would be someone talking smack to me on social media.”

While there’s less emotion going into this fight, there’s more on the line against Archuleta in the bantamweight’s mind.

“It would mean a lot. Beating Gallagher meant a lot, he was 7-0 but there was a lot of hearsay. There was more hearsay than a guy like Archuleta who’s well-established, one of the best in the world. So beating him would mean I’m one of the best.”

In just his second fight with the promotion, Bandejas has landed on the main card of a premier Bellator event. The New Jersey native has a chance to rapidly ascend through the division by capitalizing on this great opportunity.

“It’s the ultimate goal, getting on a card like this and being able to watch guys like Fedor and Ryan Bader fight. Fighting before those guys reassures that you’re doing something right.”

Ultimately, this will be a challenge for Ricky Bandejas. The solutions to his opponent are not as straight-forward as they were with James Gallagher, but he has great confidence in his abilities.

“I don’t see anything specific, I just think I’m a little bit better everywhere. He’s a good all-around fighter, but I think I have the advantage whether it’s grappling or standup.”

Ricky Bandejas stated that he’ll be watching the Bellator 214 main card after his fight concludes, and you can join him by tuning into Paramount Network on Saturday, January 26, at 9:00 p.m. EST.

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