Bantamweights Leandro Higo and Ricky Bandejas find themselves facing off at Bellator 249, in very similar circumstances.
Both men have had mixed results of late. But both have also been fighting at the top of the division, taking on some of the best 135lb’ers Bellator MMA has to offer. For Higo (19-2), two consecutive losses to Aaron Pico and Darrion Caldwell were snapped with a victory over Shawn Bunch. A key victory, and not just because Higo’s contract was coming to a close.
“It was real important for me to get a victory over a big name in the U.S. in Shawn Bunch,” Higo said during the Bellator 249 media day this week. “I was coming off two losses against some of Bellator’s best in Darrion Caldwell and Aaron Pico, and it was very important for me to get back on the right track against a big name like Shawn Bunch. And here we are now.”
As Higo pointed out, fighting the top of the division is nothing new for him. After an appearance on TUF Brazil 4, then a stint with RFA/LFA, he arrived in Bellator in 2017. “I’ve been fighting the best of the best since my first day in Bellator. I fought for the title, and I’ve been fighting at the top of Bellator since day one,” he stated. “There’s nothing to worry about, whoever my opponent is, I’m here to be the best, and you guys will see that on Thursday.”
That said, Higo has sounded as interested in Ireland’s James Gallagher, who picked up another submission victory earlier this month, as he has in Bandejas this week. It’s a fight he hopes he can secure with a win at Bellator 249. “After that victory, [Gallagher] said he wants to fight anybody in the division. I want to see after my victory Thursday if he’s willing to be a man of his word,” stated Higo.
Watch the full Bellator 249 virtual media day scrum with Leandro Higo above.