The Bellator MMA bantamweight division may have just found another viable contender for its vacant title.
UFC veteran Sergio Pettis (20-5) improved to 2-0 inside the Bellator cage on Friday after scoring a victory by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27) over Ricky Bandejas in the main event of Bellator 242.
The card was the first for Bellator since late February before the start of the coronavirus pandemic and took place in what looks to be the promotion's new home for the time being inside an empty Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut.
An injury to Kyoji Horiguchi forced the Bellator 135-pound title to go vacant last November. Top contenders Juan Archuleta and Patrick Mix are expected to see their title bout get rescheduled in the near future. The winner could end up seeing Pettis, however, in their first defense after how strong the 26-year-old looked in his second fight since becoming a free agent last year.
Pettis, the younger brother of former UFC lightweight champion Anthony Pettis, extended his win streak to three overall by landing the cleaner strikes and relying on his experience to largely disarm the powerful Bandejas (13-4), who was fresh off a pair of knockout wins.
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Bandejas, 28, proved unable to control the terms and pace of the fight despite holding a size and reach advantage. Pettis did his best to slow the pace down and increase the overall tension as they danced around one another and largely pawed for long stretches.
By making the fight more about technique and timing, Pettis was able to cruise thanks to a series of outside leg kicks which slowed Bandejas down and a steady barrage of clean counter right hands.
Although Bandejas was able to land a spinning kick to the body late in Round 1 before scoring a takedown in the closing seconds, it was his only notable sequence of the round. Pettis reversed a successful takedown one round later to fire clean strikes from top position.
The final round saw Pettis control distance with ease while landing the more meaningful blows.
CBS Sports was with you all night with updates, results and highlights from Uncasville, Connecticut, with our coverage below.
Fight card, results
- Sergio Pettis def. Ricky Bandejas via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
- Jason Jackson def. Jordan Mein via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
- Jay-Jay Wilson def. Tywan Claxton via split decision (27-30, 29-28, 30-27)
- Aaron Pico def. Chris Hatley Jr. via first-round submission (rear-naked choke)
- Mark Lemminger def. Jake Smith via second-round TKO (punches)
- Raufeon Stots def. Cass Bell via third-round submission (rear-naked choke)
- Ras Hylton def. Rudy Schaffroth via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)