Two titles will be on this line this Saturday night when the 52nd installment of Cage Fury Fighting Championships (CFFC) makes its last trip to the Borgata Hotel Casino and Spa this year. Besides the CFFC lightweight title bout between current champion Darrell Horcher and hungry challenger, Stephen Regman, this event will also feature Ricky Bandejas versus Nick Pace for the vacant CFFC bantamweight title.
A UFC veteran, Nick Pace (6-3) hasn’t fought mixed-martial arts (MMA) since November 2011, after three fights for the world’s largest promotion. However, with that experience, Pace believes he has what it takes to be the next CFFC bantamweight champion. “The UFC was a once in a lifetime experience for me,” stated Pace.
“Although many people feel I can make it back and can go further than I did, it was great to feel what it was like to be in the real spotlight. I was young and dumb when I made it and I took a lot for granted. But making up my own choke was definitely the highlight of the entire thing and fighting legends like Mighty Mouse (current UFC flyweight champion, Demetrius Johnson) and Miguel Torres. But either way I've learned so much from it all. That’s why I chose CFFC because it's very professional. Coming from the UFC it's the closest thing I have to get "under the lights" pressure.” -Nick Pace, CFFC Bantamweight Title Contender
Although Pace took a break from MMA, the Tiger Schulmann (TSK) product debuted in Glory in 2013 in a kickboxing bout with a decision victory over former CFFC featherweight champion and current UFC fighter, Levan Makashivili. “Glory was another great adventure of mine,” stated Pace. “I wanted to do some kickboxing to tighten up my stand up for MMA. Turns out, I'm fighting Levan and he's a badass. We fought and I found out later on that he was fighting in Glory for the same reason I was. We still train together and are friends.”
Now Pace turns his attention to an undefeated, young, and hungry fighter in Ricky Bandejas. “I was never good with assessing other fighters,” responded Pace. “I know what I can do and he knows what he can do. That's the reason we fight, to decide who's better. I'd say for the CFFC to choose this fight between us, I'm guessing he's good. My prediction, I don't make predictions. I make things happen.
"Nick is a great addition to the CFFC bantamweight division, His resume speaks for itself and I fully expect him to test Ricky like never before.” -Rob Haydak, CEO - Cage Fury Fighting Championships
Pace’s opponent, Ricky Bandejas (5-0) has fought all of his professional fights in CFFC and isn’t concerned with his opponent’s UFC experience. “Nick Pace having a UFC experience does not intimidate me in anyway,” exclaimed Bandejas. “I train with some of best in the world on a daily basis and if anything, it gets me pumped to train and work very hard every time I am in the gym.”
Pace hasn’t lost in the professional ranks and has been with CFFC ever since he turned professional – a combination he is comfortable with. “Having a 5-0 record feels pretty good,” said Bandejas with a smile. “Just shows that all my hard work has been paying off. My confidence is definitely at an all-time high, just from training under Nick Catone and having the guys I workout with on a daily basis.”
“Fighting for the CFFC title is a huge accomplishment for me being they are the number one ranked regional show and the fact the last two bantamweight champs (Aljamain Sterling and Jimmie Rivera) went to the UFC. By winning this title, it would just be another step in the right direction in fulfilling my dream.” -Ricky Bandejas, CFFC Bantamweight Title Contender
In regards to an assessment of his opponent, Bandejas keeps it simple. “Pace comes from TSK, a kickboxing based camp, but he's well rounded everywhere and comes to fight,” said Bandejas. “I see myself coming out with the win. This is my first fight camp that I am training full time. My previous camps I was only able to get in the gym three to four days a week because of my work schedule. I've been training a lot this camp with one of the best bantamweights in the world, Marlon Moraes for this fight. I also added strength and conditioning into my routine with strength coach Brain Blue for this camp. I never really did strength & conditioning for a full camp in the past and I feel it's made a huge difference. Keep an eye on this fight it is going to be my best performance to date.”
"Ricky deserves this title shot. In his young career, he's already dealt with the pitfalls of competing on the regional level. He's had numerous opponent changes and always stepped up to the challenge and persevered. I fully expect him to transition to the UFC one day. A win on Saturday night could make that happen much quicker. " -Rob Haydak, CEO - Cage Fury Fighting Championships