The main event of Bellator 242 may not have been a title eliminator officially, but in a bantamweight division without a champ, it certainly felt that way. Sergio Pettis had the right name, the pedigree, and a couple of wins split between the UFC and Bellator. Ricky Bandejas was the homegrown success story, the man who had stopped the hype train of James Gallagher to put his name on the map.
With names like Archuleta and Mix also in the mix (no pun intended), a big performance Friday was key for whoever came out on top in the Bellator 242 main event.
Bandejas found himself on the outside early, Pettis holding center and pressing the action, aided by his kicks. Bandejas answered a front kick by Pettis with a low kick. Pettis closed the distance, and landed a punch upstairs. While Bandejas tried to circle out, Pettis cut him off, and continued to fire a multitude of kicks. A superman punch would get Pettis inside again, and he nearly connected upstairs a second time. Bandejas finally saw things go his way in the final minute, when he was able to land a takedown and go straight to side control. There just wasn’t enough time to make anything happen, however, and Pettis scrambled up with about 10 seconds remaining.
Round two had Pettis attacking the legs some more. The pair would exchange, and Bandejas made this one closer, shooting for a takedown earlier in the frame. But Pettis reversed, getting on top. Bandejas was active on the bottom, but Pettis stayed with him, and they worked their way up. No real offense in the sequence, but it might serve to make Bandejas rethink his approach if nothing else. At the end of the round, Bandejas launched a flying knee — but caught a right hand to the face.
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Round three opened in similar fashion to the previous frames. Bandejas outside. Pettis holding center, walking forward, chopping at his opponent’s lead leg. Finding his way inside on the taller man, landing. More effective with his striking despite the reach and height disadvantage.
The leg kicks of Pettis were starting to add up, putting Bandejas off-balance. With only three rounds to work, Ricky Bandejas was way too far behind. When it came time to go to the judges, there was no question. Pettis had won it.
Also no question that, after that performance, Pettis appears to have made his case for a shot at the vacant belt. Who it comes against will be interesting.
Official Result: Sergio Pettis def. Ricky Bandejas by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)