The youthful brother of a former UFC champion has begun carving out his personal identify in Bellator MMA.

In Bellator’s return for the primary time in 5 months, Sergio Pettis defeated Ricky Bandejas through unanimous determination (30-27, 30-27, 30-27) within the bantamweight most important occasion of Bellator 242 on Friday evening.

Bellator, the second-most outstanding MMA promotion within the U.S. after the UFC, had not held an occasion since Feb. 22 because of the coronavirus pandemic. Pettis’ older brother Anthony was the UFC light-weight champion in 2013 and 2014.

This card came about at Mohegan Solar Enviornment in Uncasville, Connecticut, overseen by the Mohegan Tribe Division of Athletic Regulation. COVID-19 protocols had been carried out, together with a number of coronavirus exams and the conserving of fighters, corners and employees inside a sort of bubble on the Mohegan Solar resort and on line casino.

The unique Bellator 242 most important occasion was purported to be a bout for the bantamweight title between Juan Archuleta and Patrick Combine, however Archuleta withdrew. The expectation is that bout will probably be rebooked for the belt.

On Friday, Pettis certainly put himself in that No. 1 contender dialog. He had a cheap efficiency in opposition to Bandejas, outstriking the taller man and piling on the calf kicks by way of the primary two rounds. At one level, Bandejas appeared to lose his footing because of the injury attributable to these repeated kicks to the decrease a part of his left leg.

Within the third spherical, each males opened up. Pettis was not content material to cruise to a call and put forth a number of flashy methods, clearly searching for a knockout. Pettis threw spinning kicks, and Bandejas got here again with a few of his personal, together with a wheel kick to the pinnacle that was simply barely blocked by Pettis. Pettis threw one other spinning kick with seconds remaining that narrowly missed as effectively.

Pettis (20-5) has received three straight, together with his first two in Bellator. The Milwaukee native left the UFC as a free agent final 12 months with a 9-5 file within the group, going backwards and forwards between flyweight and bantamweight. Pettis, nonetheless simply 26 years outdated, owns a victory over Joseph Benavidez, who simply fought for the UFC flyweight title final weekend in Abu Dhabi.

Bandejas (13-4) had a two-fight successful streak snapped. The New Jersey native propelled himself up the Bellator bantamweight ladder in 2018 when he stunningly knocked out Conor McGregor protégé James Gallagher. Bandejas, 28, trains out of the vaunted American Prime Workforce in Florida.

Additionally on the Bellator 242 card, blue-chipper Aaron Pico received his second straight bout through end. Pico (6-3) submitted Solo Hatley Jr. with a rear-naked choke at 2:09 of the primary spherical in the principle card opener.

Pico, 23, debuted as a professional with Bellator in 2017 as probably the most adorned prospect in MMA historical past following Golden Gloves titles in boxing and a close to berth within the Olympics for wrestling. Previous to this present streak, although, he had misplaced two straight through knockout.

Pico, a California native, has begun discovering success since altering coaching camps to Jackson Wink MMA in Albuquerque, New Mexico, the house of UFC stars similar to Jon Jones and Holly Holm. Quite than brawling and searching for fast knockouts like he did in earlier fights, Pico went to his wrestling early, took Hatley down, landed damaging ground-and-pound and completed with a choke. Pico has completed all six of his professional victories, however this was the primary one by submission.