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Sergio Pettis is confident that his victory at the Bellator 242 main event sent a strong message to James Gallagher.
Pettis (20-5 MMA, 2-0 BMMA) remained unbeaten under the Bellator banner on Friday when he outpointed Ricky Bandejas (13-4 MMA, 3-3 BMMA) over three rounds for a unanimous decision victory at Mohegan Sun Arena. The fight was touted as a title eliminator in the bantamweight division.
Bandejas is the single stain on Gallagher's (10-1 MMA, 7-1 BMMA) MMA resume, when he rocked the aggressive Irishman with a highlight-reel knockout at Bellator 204 in August 2018. Pettis explained that he planned a more conservative approach to defend himself from a similar fate.
“I don’t know if it was a statement for a title shot,” Pettis told reporters post-fight at Bellator 242. “I think it was just another good win on my resume. I beat a tough Ricky Bandejas. I showed Gallagher that’s how you do it, though. That’s how you defend yourself. Those punches and those kicks, if you learn defense, you can block that (expletive).”
Pettis also explained that he's not looking to fight Gallagher immediately. Gallagher’s level of competition throughout his career has been a source of criticism, and Pettis feels it's warranted. He highlighted the loss against Bandejas as evidence of what happens when he takes on a legitimate opponent.
Looking ahead, this victory likely puts Pettis en route for a title shot against the winner of Juan Archuleta and Patrick Mix, who are expected to fight for the vacant 135-pound title this year. Pettis says he'll take on Gallagher in the meantime if he can record a few tough victories.
“He’s got to work his way up to get me,” Pettis said. “He’s got a couple more wins under his belt and beat some notable guys. If he can beat Ricky Bandejas then he deserves to fight me, no matter how many followers you got on Instagram.”
Pettis maintained control over Bandejas throughout all three round of their title bout. His superior striking earned him higher points, but the victory lacked excitement. Pettis has earned 10 of his past 11 wins by decision, and said it’s a goal to start putting opponents away more consistently.
“I’m critical of my own performance,” Pettis said. “Obviously I want to start finishing people more and more. Ricky was tough, man, so I had to play a smarter game plan and I went out there and did what I had to do, but there’s more to come.”
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