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Saunders set for Swick

Story by Robert Kravantka

Ben “Killa B” Saunders grew up with martial arts. Influenced by Bruce Lee from the age of 8, Saunders, two years later, saw his first UFC match and thought, "This is something I want to do.”

After dabbling with karate, Tae Kwon Do, Muay Thai, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Saunders began his career in his home state of Florida, before being cast for The Ultimate Fighter, Season 6, fighting under coach Matt Serra.

He won his match against Dan Barrera but was eliminated in the quarterfinals to runner-up Tommy Speer.

“The toughest part was the weight cutting,” says Saunders. “I only made 170 lbs once prior to the show. On the show, you had to make weight in 24 hours, so I was on a strict diet. I believe that I wasn’t getting the proper nutrients due, and that caused me to feel weak.

“I still feel that, overall, though, it was a great experience for me. And to tell you the truth, it was almost like a vacation for me.”

Saunders commented on the recent decision win by Matt Hughes over Matt Serra at UFC 98 between the two coaches of TUF Season 6:

“In that fight, I believe you have to either say Serra won or it was a draw. No doubt, Hughes won the second round. But he did nothing but hold position, couldn’t pass guard. Serra tried to press the action, whether standing or off the back.”

Saunders doesn’t rule out a future fight against either coach.

“I’m way too cool with Matt Serra, so I don’t see that fight happening, unless the fans want it, the career. Matt Serra and I were like, f--- it, let’s do it. I still keep in touch him.

“As for Matt Hughes, that is definitely a possibility.”

Saunders’ last time in the Octagon was at UFC: Fight for the Troops in December, last year. Ironically, Mike “Quick” Swick, his opponent for UFC 99, also last fought on the same card. Both fighters took care of business quickly, with Swick living up to his moniker of “Quick” by taking out Jonathan Goulet in 33 seconds of the first round. Saunders took a little more time, with a barrage of knees in the Thai clinch that stopped his match against Brandon Wolff at 1:49 of the first round.

Saunders fights under American Top Team with a fighting style of Jeet Kune Do and kickboxing.

“I am very open minded,” says Saunders. “Every single technique and method is effective, but it just comes down to the body type, the particular person, power and size. The most direct attack is going to be the most effective attack.”

With his 6’3” frame, and the results he displayed, it is hard to argue with his results.

Swick, moving down to the welterweight, is looking to crack the top ten while continuing his winning streak.

“We both like to stand and bang,” says Saunders. “I think he would have a hard time taking me to the ground, but if he does, I will submit him. So that isn’t a great game plan for him. The stand up is going to be war, but I think I am better in all aspects.”

Saunders respects his opponent but also has the confidence in his skills, noting that, “On paper, definitely he is my toughest opponent, but we will see if that translates to my toughest match. I have had my heart and head tested throughout my career.”

As Saunders steps into the Octagon at UFC 99, at 26 years old, he will not only seek to climb the ladder in the talent-laden welterweight division, but hopes to be on the next version of the UFC Undisputed video game.

“I begged Dana White to be in the video game,” says Sanders. “Whatever I have to do, I will do it.”



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