Humberto Bandenay has had a tough time getting his second fight in the UFC.
The 23-year-old featherweight, who debuted back in August with a 26-second knockout of Martin Bravo, has been scheduled to fight twice since his spectacular finish in Mexico City.
Bandenay was first set to fight Alexander Volkanovski at UFC Sydney last November, but was forced to withdraw due to a hand injury. The Peruvian fighter was then scheduled to compete at UFC Austin in February, but visa issues didn’t allow Bandenay to travel to the U.S.
Now, nine months after his UFC debut, Bandenay will finally get the chance to follow up on his UFC Mexico City performance at the promotion’s debut event in Chile this Saturday. Being used to fighting often throughout the year, Bandenay would’ve liked to have been competing rather than sitting out, but does admit there has been some positives to his time off.
“In a way, I would’ve liked to have been competing; all my life I’ve been competing frequently,” Bandenay told MMA Fighting. “But at some point, you do need your space to learn new things and let your body recover because being in constant activity in a way or another is going to ware the body.
“If you look at my history, I’m always fighting and I’ve fought five, six times a year, so I do think that this has helped me, this space. It’s been eight months and this space of inactivity has allowed me to enforce things that I didn’t really have.”
Bandenay’s troubles getting to a fight eventually ended quite well for the Peruvian. Bandenay will be fighting in Latin America, close to home, and against an opponent he hoped to fight – Gabriel Benitez.
“I’m very excited and very happy,” Bandenay said. “I had told you previously that I wanted to fight in Chile and one of the opponents that I had in mind was him. I know that it’s going to get tough, I know is going to be a hard fight, but that’s what I like and that want attracts me.
“So yeah, I’m very happy with the UFC, my manager Jason House who made this possible, and also, since I had two fights that fell through, things happen for a reason, right. So in our conversation I said that things happen for a reason and good things are coming and this is one of them.”
Bandenay’s opponent is coming off an impressive win over then ranked featherweight Jason Knight. Many fans expected Benitez to get another ranked opponent and some have made sure to let Bandenay know exactly that.
“I’ve seen the comments saying that Benitez should’ve gotten a top 15 or something like that,” Bandenay said. “Actually, if the UFC gave me this fight it’s because they believe in me and they know that I’m on par for this fight and everyone is going to see what I’m made of on May 19.”
For UFC Chile, Bandenay did all of his training camp with his original team in Lima, Pro Fighting Peru, and not Team Oyama in California. Bandenay is hesitant to say the visa issues not allowing him to travel to the U.S. were the ultimate reason for him not training with Team Oyama, as he had a tough time adapting to America and wanted to return to Peru prior to the visa issues.
“I don’t know, I don’t know; maybe, maybe not,” Bandenay said. “I wouldn’t be able to give you an answer 100 percent because I already had plans and I wanted to return to Peru because I like training in Peru. I missed my country. Maybe I would’ve done a shorter camp in the exterior, but not settle in a new country. I don’t see myself doing that.
“Everything is a lot more complicated (in the U.S.) and the thing with the family, the customs, everything is a lot more farther. But it’s all things that I had to go through to be where I am. It’s complicated, but at the end of the day it helps you.”
Despite the hand injury, the change in training camps, and time off, Bandenay remains calm and confident heading into his showdown with Benitez at UFC Chile.
“What keeps me calm is that my preparation has been very strong and it has always been at all times,” Bandenay explains. “At all times I’ve been ready to fight, but for things outside of my reach the fights were cancelled. So I’ve always been at a good rhythm and that’s helping me to stay concentrated, to be 100 percent, and to know that I’ve been doing a really good training camp, a strong one, that motivates me to fight.”
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