‘I belong in the UFC’: Humberto Bandenay, 8-1 since release, determined to make octagon return

Humberto Bandenay is not at peace with how things went for him in the UFC, and he’s determined to change that.

“The goal is to return to the UFC,” Bandenay told MMA junkie in Spanish. “I’ve had offers from other companies: ACA in Russia, PFL, but I’m focused on my revenge. Personally, I have a revenge pending. I believe I belong in the UFC, and I can generate a lot to talk about, so that’s what I’m searching for with my team and manager Jason House.”

The Peruvian fighter made a big splash in his first UFC appearance but was never able to live up to the hype he created after his debut. Bandenay (20-8) debuted on short notice back in August 2017 at UFC Fight Night 114. With just two weeks of preparation, Bandenay knocked out TUF: Latin America 3 winner Martin Bravo in just 26 seconds. He also earned himself a $50,000 Performance of the Night bonus.

However, unfortunately for the then 23-year-old, lost his next three fights and was given his walking papers.

“The first month was the most painful,” Bandenay said, recalling his release. “I was just getting criticism. Basically only the people really close to me and my family were the only ones supporting me.

“I questioned myself many times. I would think, ‘Maybe this is my top. Maybe this sport isn’t for me. Maybe it’s not my path.’ But I was never close to leaving the sport. It was mainly just moments. My competitive spirit would prevail most of the time to keep me in this sport. I took a couple of months to take a break and get myself together.”

Since his UFC release in 2019, Bandenay has gone on quite the run. He’s now 8-1 in his past nine fights, and his lone loss came a weight class above his usual division in a Combate Global title fight against then-champion and now UFC fighter Rafa Garcia.

Now 29, Bandenay believes he’s grown a ton since his UFC days. He feels he’s much more mature as a person and a fighter, and more importantly in regard to his fighting career, he feels UFC ready.

“During my time in the UFC, I was very young, and I had a ton of pressure on me,” Bandenay said. “Maybe I was fighting to please others than to satisfy myself. So I decided to break from that and go back to my roots, get back to enjoying the process, which is the most important part of this sport. I’ve been fighting for a long time, more than 12 years, and I lost a lot of my youth. Going out, partying, taking it easy, I missed out on a lot of that and that maybe affected me in my career.

“Now, I think I’m much more mature, and I believe I’ve found the right balance. I don’t regret anything. Everything that happens teaches you something and that’s hoe I’m taking it. I’m not going to give up. I did once already, and I can do it again.”

Story originally appeared on MMA Junkie