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‘It was a little weird’

Ricky Bandejas is determined to keep moving forward despite some recent changes in his fighting career.

The bantamweight is continuing his MMA career under the Combate Global banner following what some thought to be a surprise release from Bellator.

Bandejas (14-5) was released by Bellator in late 2020. He competed in the promotion for two years with a 3-4 record, but also three highlight-reel knockouts – including a viral stoppage of James Gallagher. His four defeats came to current champion Sergio Pettis, former champion Juan Archuleta and former title challengers Leandro Higo and Patchy Mix.

Some saw the release as a surprise, including Bandejas himself.

“Those were literally the top four guys in the division,” Bandejas told MMA Junkie. “I literally lost to 1 through 4 in the rankings.

“The three wins were all huge knockouts – all three of them were viral knockouts. So it was a little weird. I had one fight left (on my contract), but things didn’t work out for whatever reason. So it’s kind of crazy to see that. I know it doesn’t matter, but there’s a lot of guys on the roster with worse records and setups, and they’re still going strong. I guess it’s (Bellator’s) personal preference.

“It’s business. I didn’t perform to the best of my abilities and I lost fights. In my eyes, I understand it. But in many eyes, it didn’t make sense on paper. It is what it is. I bet if I would’ve won those two (final) fights, it might’ve been different. Who knows. That’s the nature of the game.”

The American Top Team product clocks his second fight with Combate Global on Friday in Miami against Kevin Cordero in the main event.

Bandejas, who was successful in his Combate Global debut, is happy to be headlining an event and out to prove he’s among the best in his weight class.

“I would love to go out there and prove that I’m one of the best bantamweights in the world,” Bandejas said. “Other than that, (I’m going to go) step-by-step and improving my game, perfect it, and get more confidence every time I fight and hopefully get to the top of the food chain.

“(Headlining) looks good and it helps me grow, and that’s what’s big in this sport: growing and having a following to get you where you have to go faster. Yeah, absolutely I’m excited about that.”

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