Humberto Bandenay wants to fight close to home, and he has someone in mind that could help him make that happen.
The featherweight prospect, who lives in Lima, Peru, is looking to compete in the recently announced UFC Chile. The event is set to take place on May 19 at the Movistar Arena in Santiago – Chile’s capital. UFC Chile will be the first time the promotion visits a Spanish-speaking country outside of Mexico, and the first time they go to a South American country outside of Brazil.
And with Chile sharing borders with Bandenay’s home country of Peru, the 23-year-old is hoping to get a slot in the card.
“I want to fight in Chile because it’s the closest country to my homeland,” Bandenay told MMA Fighting. “It’s very close to Peru, right there on the southern part so many people have expectations and have been asking me, ‘Are you going to fight in Chile? We want to see you there.’ A lot of people want me to fight there because it’s easy for them to travel there, and there is a lot of anticipation for the UFC coming to South America.”
Bandenay says it would be an honor to get to fight on UFC Chile. The Team Oyama product has several ties with the neighboring country.
“It would be an honor to fight in South America and in a country that’s so close to mine,” Bandenay explained. “In fact, I have Chilean family. My nephew’s are Chilean, they live in Santiago. There’s been a lot of anticipation building here. On my fan page and Instagram, I get tons of messages, even from the Chileans since they’ve seen I train with Diego Rivas (Chilean UFC fighter who will be competing on the card), so there is a certain amount of affinity there. And the Peruvians above all really want to go to a UFC event and they’re willing to pay a flight ticket to go watch me fight.”
Bandenay is open to fighting just about anyone in order to get on the May 19 event, but he’d be lying if he said he didn’t have an opponent in mind.
“I’m available to fight anyone,” Bandenay said. “If it’s a Latin American or South American even better. But I would like to face “Moggly” (Gabriel Benitez), I think I have the weapons to beat him. We’re both strikers, so that’s a very attractive fight and I have no problem fighting him in Chile. I’m throwing out the challenge, I hope he accepts.”
Bandenay has been eager to fight for quite some time. But different situations have impeded him from following up on his impressive UFC debut where he knocked out The Ultimate Fighter: Latin America 3 champion Martín Bravo in just 26 seconds last August.
Bandenay was scheduled to fight in November at UFC Sydney, but was forced to withdraw due to a broken wrist. The featherweight fighter was then booked to fight at UFC Austin earlier this month, but again had to pullout, this time due to other complications, as he had lost his visa and passport.
“It’s been difficult because these are things that are out of my hands,” Bandenay said regarding being unable to get his second UFC fight. “I really wanted to fight. The first one, it happens to every athlete at some point in their live, and I already have like 19 fights, and this is the first time I break something. It bothered me a lot, but I learned to deal with it.
“And the second one, unfortunately I can’t do much about the laws, so I had to bear with it. But I believe things happen for a reason and they happen when they’re supposed to happen, something big is coming and I’ll be there to face it.”
Bandenay is currently in the process of getting his visa back, so he’s unable to travel to the U.S. for now. And being unable to fight in his last two scheduled bouts, Bandenay is starting to think he’s destined to fight in Chile.
“I feel like it is,” Bandenay laughed. “The wise destiny knows why it does certain things, and on my part, I’m just going to keep training hard like nothing happened. I need to keep a strong mind and that’s how I’m taking it.”