Consider the bantamweight showdown between Ricky Bandejas and Leandro Higo at Bellator 249 a battle for divisional relevance.
Both men had been through some ups and downs in recent times. Bandejas entered the night off a loss to Sergio Pettis, for his part. After rocketing to fame with his finish of James Gallagher, Bandejas had struggled when given steps up in competition.
Former title challenger Higo, meanwhile, had only recently snapped a two fight win streak, thanks to a victory over Shawn Bunch. But he missed weight for Bellator 249 at the weigh-in on Wednesday, throwing something of a wrench in the works.
Thanks to the loss of the Patricky Pitbull fight just before Bellator 249’s main card kicked off, Bandejas vs. Higo wound up as the co-main event. And it was active right out of the gate. Plenty of back-and-forth, before the pair went to the ground late in the opening round, with Higo working from the top. He worked his way to mount with about 45 second remaining, and took advantage of Bandejas exposing his neck for a mounted guillotine attempt. That fell through rather quickly however, which would afford a second round (or more).
It wasn’t long before Higo had Bandejas on the ground in the second, however. Soon enough, Higo had latched on with a body lock. Wearing the former title challenger like a backpack, Bandejas simply could not fight him off. Higo displayed excellent wrist control, then locked on a choke that was more across the jawline than anything. Bandejas soon tapped, and Leandro Higo had the submission win.
If you’re talking relevance, Higo retains his. With two wins in a row, he now has the chance to put together a larger run in a division that has recently seen an influx of new talent. He will, however, have to ensure that another miss at the scales does not transpire.
Official Result: Leandro Higo def. Ricky Bandejas by submission (rear-naked choke), Round 2, 2:32