Cover photo courtesy of Ricky Bandejas
Bellator 225 is headlined by a heavyweight rematch between UFC veteran Matt Mitrione and former Japanese MMA superstar Sergei Kharitonov, after their first bout ended in a no contest after Mitrione landed a groin strike on Kharitonov in the opening minute of the bout. While the heavyweights will handle the marquee assignment, as well as other notable Bellator veterans such as Javy Ayala and David Rickels holding down duties on the main card, it’s a prelim fighter who may actually be the best chance Bellator has at creating its own superstar.
👊🏼👊🏼 @BellatorMMA pic.twitter.com/5iedXHZwLT — Ricky Bandejas (@rickybandejas) July 31, 2019
Bantamweight Ricky Bandejas will be making his fourth appearance inside the Bellator cage on Saturday evening, in the third preliminary bout on the card. Many people probably recognize the name Bandejas from his high profile win over SBG fighter, and in turn Conor McGregor teammate, James Gallagher in his Bellator debut back in August 2018. The performance earned Bandejas praise, as Gallagher unleashed verbal assaults on the New Jersey native. Bandejas subsequently knocked out the Irishman in one round, and instantly became a Bellator fan favorite. Since then, Bandejas has found himself on a bit of a skid, losing his last two against high level bantamweights Juan Archuleta and Patrick Mix. Bandejas now faces 8-3 Turkish newcomer Ahmet Kayretti in a fight that could ultimately make or break the bantamweight’s status as a Bellator staple. With a win, however, the sky could be the limit for Bandejas.
Life is full of ups and downs and for as long as I can remember fighting has been my life. On August 24th, I continue that journey in hopes to make my mark as one of the best to ever do it. I am more motivated than ever because for the first time I am fighting for something bigger than just myself and country. I now have a family of my own to provide for. I am father to a beautiful little girl and soon I will be welcoming another baby girl into this world. I am overwhelmed with joy, but at the same time I am overwhelmed with the need to give them a life I never had, and that makes me the most dangerous version of myself yet. This is my biggest test yet, and it couldn't come at a better time. @bellatormma is one of the largest Mixed Martial Arts stages in the world and this fight will be televised nationwide, so if you are interested in supporting me and the dream please DM me for any inquiries. I appreciate all the support! Thank you! #bellator #ufc #mma #kickboxing #muaythai #boxing #fight #kaizenmma #va #dm #TheTURK🇹🇷🇺🇸
A post shared by Ahmet “The Turk” Kayretli 💎 (@34theturk) on Aug 6, 2019 at 8:20am PDT
While he is fighting on the preliminary portion of Bellator 225 on Saturday, it’s quite possible that Bandejas is the biggest name on the entire card outside of the main event. The vast majority of this, as mentioned before, comes from the win and performance he had over Gallagher, but even in that case, Bandejas has become a name staple on the Bellator roster because of his style and approach. It’s equatable to how Nate Diaz’s star has grown in the UFC exponentially since his two matchups with McGregor, albeit to an obviously much lesser extent.
R E A D Y@RickyBandejas heads back to the cage for #Bellator225 to face Ahmet Kayretli this Saturday. There are still tix left for our first night of fights in Bridgeport here 👉 https://t.co/q0dkw2fv4q pic.twitter.com/Op4yTj2VXm — Bellator MMA (@BellatorMMA) August 21, 2019
Bandejas could be a star with the right results, and of course, a subsequent good push from the promotion, and Bandejas could be that next name Bellator can build on. Think of him as a Bellator bantamweight Nate Diaz. He needs some more wins and consistency, but his popularity amongst the hardcore fanbase should give Bellator some optimism about his star potential moving forward.
Follow Johann on Twitter: @thejohanncastro