Bellator MMA's Ben Saunders on His Long-Awaited Rematch with Douglas Lima This Weekend at Grand Canyon University Arena
Bellator MMA Bellator MMA fighters Douglas Lima (left) and Ben Saunders.
Ben Saunders is ready to get into a fight this weekend. More than ready, in fact. The mixed martial artist is scheduled to face off against fellow welterweight combatant Douglas Lima during the headlining bout of the nationally televised Bellator MMA event on Friday night at Grand Canyon University Arena. And it's a battle that's been more than seven months in the making.
The fighters were originally set to square off early this year in the final match of one of the renowned MMA promotion's regular tournaments. Then a few injuries suffered by Lima caused the donnybrook to be delayed. Twice. It's been a frustrating situation for Saunders, who says he's more than ready to scrap with Lima (who originally beat him when they fought back in 2011) and hopefully earn the Bellator tournament win that's eluded him.
Saunders (16-5) finally get his chance to meet Lima (24-5) in the middle of the octagon tomorrow night during Bellator 100, which (as its name indicates) is the MMA promotion's hundredth televised event and will feature 12 other fights. The rematch between Saunders and Lima, however, is being heavily promoted by Bellator, one of the top-ranked MMA organizations in the world and the main competitor of UFC, and is arguably one of the most anticipated contests on the card. And according to Saunders, who boasts the fearsome nickname "Killa B," MMA aficionados have wanted to see this particular showdown for a while.
"Fans have been waiting for this fight for quite a long time," Saunders says. "And they know what's on the line and they know what we're both going to bring to the table."
And there's a lot that's on the line. The fight is the final match in one of the regular tournaments that make up Bellator's events, helps determine its rankings, and sets it apart from other MMA promotions (such as UFC).
Besides a chance to get a hard-fought victory on national television (like many of Bellator's cards, Friday's event at GCU Arena will be broadcast on cable network Spike TV), whoever wins the fight between Saunders and Lima will be declared the winner of one of that respective tournament and nab $100,000 and a shot at current welterweight championship.
Meanwhile, bouts from the opening round of an entirely different tournament are scheduled to take place at Bellator 100 and will be just as fiercely fought as the main event. The lineup of other televised fights includes Justin Baesman (14-3) going against Brent Weedman (21-8), Ron Keslar (9-3) facing Luis Melo (29-11), and the curiously named War Machine (13-4) throwing blows versus Vaughn Anderson (16-1-1).
Saunders says he's interested in the latter contest since he's good friends with War Machine and will be watching. Well, when he isn't busy getting ready for Lima. The 30-year-old Florida resident told Jackalope Ranch during a recent phone interview about how he's been training hard for the rematch, as well as why the wait has been frustrating (particularly since he hasn't fought anyone else lately), how the desire to win a tournament is motivated him.
Where did your nickname "Killa B." come from?
It comes from my teammates giving it to me from kind of a situation that occurred out here in Orlando, but it also came down from my love of hip-hop and rap and Wu-Tang Clan.
So what's your favorite Wu-Tang album?
36 Chambers, man.
How does Bellator MMA differ from UFC? Or how is it better?
I wouldn't say one's better than the other. The big, defining difference would be the tournament format [in Bellator]. That was the original reason I signed up with them. The whole idea of three fights in three months was kind of bringing me back to the old school tournament days of the original UFC. And they don't have that any more. [Some] promotions don't do that no more for whatever reason. So that's what intrigued me and that's why I'm here. That's what I joined up to do.
Do you still have any bad feelings about being cut from UFC years ago?
Nah, I never had bad feelings. I don't even know who stated that. The only issue they even cut me because of wrestling ability and the fact that UFC was overrun with elite wrestlers.
You mean wrestling in the MMA sense versus professional wrestling, right?
Oh, yeah. They were phenomenal wrestlers in the UFC that were able to wrestle [and] take people to the ground and control them and try to work "ground and pound" for the most part. And at the time, that was the one aspect of my game that I was lacking the most.
I came from more of a traditional striking background and I was a huge fan of jiu-jitsu and working off my back so I was comfortable in both zones. And I always created my style for that reason. I'm going to keep it standing, I'm going to keep it exciting, I'm going to go for the knock out. And if they take me down, I'm going to [try to] sweep or stand back up. But again, the top elite wrestlers in the world are good at controlling on the ground and at winning the game. It's a game. There are judges and there's a time limit. So you got to be aware of the game.