Saunders competed on the Ultimate Fighter 6 (Photo courtesy of Bellator).
UFC Veteran Brings Impressive Stoppage Ratio to Promotion
Former Ultimate Fighter participant Ben Saunders (9-3) has been confirmed as the latest addition to the welterweight division of Bellator Fighting Championships. While he will not compete in its upcoming welterweight tournament, the Florida native will make his debut for the show during its upcoming fourth season.
“Ben Saunders is an exciting, powerful welterweight with explosive knockout power,” Bellator Chairman and CEO Bjorn Rebney stated. “Ben’s dangerous and always shows up to fight. I’m excited to see his first fight under the Bellator banner on MTV2 in April.”
Fighting out of American Top Team in Coconut Beach, Florida, Saunders began training in martial arts at a very early age. Currently 27-years-old, he started with Jeet Kune Do and soon after added Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu to his repertoire. He was so certain that Mixed Martial Arts was the correct career path for him that he convinced his family he was going to community college after high school but was actually spending the time in training instead. His family was not too pleased when they found out, and their reaction only served as motivation for Saunders in his mind.
“My car broke down, so I lost my job, and I was getting ready to get evicted from my apartment,” he recalled about that time. “At one point, my family hit me up and they were so negative. They were like ‘What are you doing trying to do this fight thing? You're not making any money! You need to go to college! You need to get a real job!’ I was just like, 'I have a point to prove. Don't tell me I can or can't do something.’”
Once he decided to turn professional in the sport, Saunders began his career fighting with Absolute Fighting Championships in southern Florida. He then competed in a pair of cards for the Orlando-based Combat Fighting Championships before landing a spot on the Ultimate Fighter 6. He reached the quarterfinals on the show before suffering a loss to Tommy Speer, but UFC President Dana White still gave him a match on the show’s finale. He defeated Dan Barrera on that closing broadcast, which landed him a contract with the UFC. He eventually fought seven times under its banner, going 4-3. After suffering two consecutive losses, he was cut from the promotion and now looks to re-establish himself with Bellator.
“I'm here to test myself against anyone that they throw against me,” said Saunders, who has eight stoppages in his nine victories. “I want to be the best. I want to be a champion, and that's my goal. I'm here to kick some (expletive), make some money and take a belt along the way.”
Season four of Bellator gets underway on Saturday, March 5th, with its 12-week season airing live on MTV2.