Bellator: Standouts from Bellator 242

Bellator MMA made it’s return last night after being off since February due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The night was filled with some solid performances, but there were a few fighters who really stood out last night.

Sergio Pettis

The main event of the evening featured a bantamweight contest between Sergio Pettis (20-5) and Ricky Bandejas (13-4). The winner was promised the next shot at the Bellator bantamweight title.

The fight was contested for the most part on the feet, and Pettis put on a clinic. It was not a one-sided beating, but Pettis was clearly the superior striker.

From the opening bell, Pettis put pressure on Bandejas. Pettis did a fantastic job of throwing stinging calf kicks which really seemed to hinder the movement of Bandejas throughout the fight.

SP was taken down once in the fight which was really his only moment of weakness. From the opening bell to the closing bell, Pettis was ahead of every move Bandejas would make.

Pettis now moves to get a shot at the Bellator bantamweight title. The younger brother of former UFC champion, Anthony Pettis, is trying to become the first Pettis to become a champion inside of Bellator. He made a big step towards that goal last night.

Aaron Pico

If there is a fighter in the MMA world that literally has all of the potential in the world, it’s Bellator’s Aaron Pico (6-3).

Pico came into MMA with elite boxing and world-class wrestling credentials. However, he’s gotten himself into trouble very early on in his career. He’s been easily drawn into brawls where he’s been caught.

Coming into Bellator 242, Pico was scheduled to face Solo Hatley Jr. (8-3). Hatley has really good power which could make you nervous as a Pico fan. I really wanted to see Pico utilize his wrestling in this fight.

Very early in the first round, Pico used his best tool in the toolbox. After a brief exchange, Pico landed a massive takedown. Pico looked dominant on the ground.

Just before the halfway mark of the first round, Pico was able to lock up a rear-naked choke and finish the fight. Pico’s performance really stands out because he finally put together a mature performance.

Moving forward, I really want to see Pico use both his boxing as well as his wrestling skills. He’s been too one dimensional early on in his Bellator career utilizing his boxing. This fight should make everyone remember just how good his wrestling is.

Jay-Jay Wilson

The fight wasn’t the most exciting contest, but I came away very impressed with Jay-Jay Wilson (6-0) after he defeated Tywan Claxton (7-2) at Bellator 242.

Wilson came into the contest with a ton of hype behind him. He had finished all five of his professional fights. The 22-year old Jiu Jitsu expert made his debut in Bellator back in 2018.

Claxton also made his professional debut in Bellator and started out by winning his first five contest before losing to Emmanuel Sanchez at Bellator 226.

Jay-Jay came out extremely aggressive in the first round, but Claxton remained incredibly patient throughout the fight. Wilson was able to get Claxton’s back at one point in the first round, but Claxton defended well and didn’t panic.

Wilson was faced with an opponent who would not bend under the pressure. Jay-Jay had never gone beyond the second round prior to this contest. I had the fight 1-1 going into the third and final round.

Claxton did a really good job at putting pressure on Wilson and winning most of the final round. However, late in the round, Wilson secured a triangle position and landed some massive elbows.

This sequence was enough to steal him the round on the deciding judges scorecards. It was a very tough and gritty fight, but the top prospect keeps his 0 in an important victory.

Next Up for Bellator

Bellator will be returning to action in a couple of weeks for Bellator 243. That fight card will be headlined by Benson Henderson and Michael Chandler. This was a good first step for Bellator as they begin to try to make up for lost time due to the pandemic.

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