Pound-for-pound one of the most entertaining fighters on the planet, Ben Saunders has had no troubles staying in the mainstream spotlight despite not being cuddled by the warm arms of the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
“Killa B” was a part of the UFC for three years beginning on The Ultimate Fighter before becoming a mainstay in their 170-pound division before back-to-back defeats to Jon Fitch and Dennis Hallman ousted him from the organization.
Since then the American Top Team product has been a man on a mission, his all-violence approach to fighting blistered Elijah Harshbarger and Matt Lee to earn a place in the Bellator Fighting Championships welterweight tournament.
The reign of terror continued with back-to-back stoppages of Chris Cisneros and Luis Santos before he was stopped by his friend and training partner Douglas Lima in the finals of the series.
Last night he bounced back from his lone defeat since leaving the UFC with a three-round domination of Raul Amaya showing off his slick grappling skills.
“I think it went really well, actually it went extremely well, I got out with no injuries and with the tournament format that’s what you’re looking for, need to get the W and come out unscaved, I personally wanted a submission the entire time though”
Next up he’s going to be paired with Bryan Baker, the Greg Jackson trained former middleweight also punched his ticket into the welterweight semi-finals last Friday with a victory over heavy-handed Brazilian Carlos Alexandre Pereira.
“My next opponent is Bryan Baker and I know he’s a very talented veteran, I haven’t seen too many of his fights but my teammates have and my coaches have,”
He continued “I’m actually looking forward to it because he’s got a name to him, my last fight was more of a wildcard with [Raul] Amaya because nobody really knew who he was so we were just sort of going out there to make things happen so it’s good to fight a name and really test myself against an experienced veteran.”
Bellator have done a great job with limited resources and cash flow to keep the flame of Saunders and many others alive over their almost four years of existence and the Bruce Lee enthusiast is glad to be a part of something special.
“They’re not as big as some of the other major promotions but they are 100% doing everything in their power to play the game smart, a lot of people throw millions of dollars and they’re nowhere to be seen now and these guys move on”
One of the key reasons to the success of Bellator has been their tournament-based fighting, despite its clear flaws the Chicago-based organization’s leader Bjorn Rebney is firmly against changing it and Saunders is okay with that.
“It’s kind of like being a part of history, it’s like when I got to watch my favorite fighters growing up in the UFC, for me personally it’s just something cool to be a part of, it would be like being a Gracie or a Shamrock of the UFC era not to mention they treat us great.”
Next week the Bellator welterweight title will be on the line as Olympic squad freestyle wrestler Ben Askren looks to defend his belt for the second time against Douglas Lima.
One things for sure, Saunders will be watching this fight very closely because if he wins the series he will face the winner and could have to meet a friend in the Bellator circular cage once again.
He’s my teammate man! It sucks y’know we fought each other the first time and the funniest thing is we were texting back and forth and he was saying “Congrats “ and I’m saying “Yo, I want you to smash Askren” but it is what it is, it’s nice to avenge a loss but it’s the only loss I’m not grudging about,”
He went on “If we end up doing battle again then the fans are going to get a good show, if Askren pulls off a lay and pray victory or ground control victory, not saying he won’t try or anything, but if he’s going to defend his belt then I’m definitely going to go out there and try get some ATT revenge there, I’m coming for the belt man!.”
The Florida-born mixed martial artist has his eyes set on winning the top prize in Bellator at 170-pounds but there are three other fighters who are looking to stop that motion, keep it on MMASucka.com for more on Saunders and the development of the welterweight tournament.
Listen to the full interview with Saunders, as well as former UFC middleweight kingpin Rich Franklin and The Fight Club Chicago’s Steve Muelhausen here