Ben Saunders is another of the many UFC fighters to get their start on The Ultimate Fighter. A participant in the sixth season, Saunders, 26, trained under Team Serra and eventually defeating Dan Barrera in the Finale by unanimous decision.
In his second career UFC match, Saunders took down Ryan Thomas in the second round with an arm bar.
In his most recent fight, Saunders opened up plenty of eyes with his viscous onslaught of knees and kicks against Brandon Wolff. Saunders will get another chance to prove himself as he takes on Mike Swick at UFC 99, and he took a few minutes to sit down with MMAMadness.com and talk about the fight and plenty more…
Talk about your upcoming fight with Mike Swick.
Ben Saunders: I think it’s a great matchup for me. I’m a fan of the sport, so I’ve followed Swick. I’ve been a fan of his, so actually being able to fight him, and test myself against him is somewhat of an honor. Obviously my mindset is that I’m better than him in every aspect of the sport. Nonetheless, I think it’s going to be a dog fight.
We are both going in there looking to bang. It’s going to be a war or something, or someone is going to get knocked out or maybe submitted.
Why American Top Team as a training camp?
BS: I’m from South Florida. I was born and raised near Fort Lauderdale. I ended up moving to Orlando to train with Dean Thomas. That was before American Top Team was even around, which was in 2001. He ended up closing his academy to go move to the new ATT when they just formed. They recruited him so he ended up going to them.
I was still with Paul Rodriguez, who was with us when I was with Dean. Paul was best friends with Dean since High School. They’ve known each other for a long time. So I was with Baja for about two years, where basically I was trying to make a career with MMA and we ended all moving to American Top Team as a career decision. It’s worked out very well for me.
What was your path to MMA?
BS: Actually I’ve been doing martial arts since I was like eight years old. I’ve always kind of been more of a hands-on learner, more self-taught than anything. I never really had money growing up. My parents were divorced, so I lived with my Dad. I couldn’t afford, and he couldn’t afford, me going to karate or tae kwon do classes when I was younger.
My best friends went to tae kwon do, my older brother did karate for a little bit, so more or less I would read books and just messed around with my best friends. And then the UFC came out and we saw it in ’93. I was 10 years old and we actually convinced my friend’s dad to order the UFC.
I remember seeing it and seeing the dude get his tooth knocked out. I was like, man, this is insane. This is amazing. This is going to be the greatest sport of all time. This is what I want to do. It was kind of a tough road because I was trying to learn through books and whatnot.
I was one of those kids that if something didn’t interest me, I wouldn’t even waste my time. I am a smart person, but school-wise, book smarts, I didn’t see the purpose. I knew what I wanted to do with my life and I never understood going to certain classes, like English class and reading about Shakespeare. I didn’t see how this was going to help me in my everyday life.
I knew one thing, and that was that I wanted to be a fighter. In a worst case scenario, I wanted to be my own boss. I’m very stubborn. I guess I was almost like “screw the world’. I’m going to do what I want to do and, that is to be a professional fighter. I went through horrible times. I’ve been broke. I’ve been almost evicted out of my place. Car broke down. I’ve been in the slums and I’ve stuck with it, and it’s starting to work out for me.
What do you think about Matt Hughes and Matt Serra finally happening?
BS: I started to think that fight wasn’t even going to happen. That is definitely a fight I can’t wait to see. I think Matt Serra has the hands to knock out Matt Hughes and the jiu jitsu if [Matt] takes him down to win off his back, sweep, or stand back up. Obviously I’m going with Serra. That’s just on a pro level, not even on a personal level because he was my coach. Matt Hughes isn’t the nicest person.
What makes you a tough opponent for somebody?
BS: My physical attributes and my aggressiveness are probably the hardest things to get used to or get prepared for if you are fighting me. Obviously there are so many things in MMA that you would have to get ready for with any opponent.
What kind of music do you like?
BS: Definitely some Wu-Tang. Their first album is a classic, man. I still listen to all that stuff. People ask me if that’s how I got the nickname "Killa B." That’s probably the reason they gave it to me. Wu-Tang, Blink 182, 311...I listen to everything to be honest with you. If it sounds good or gets my attention, I’ll listen to it. I’m also very critical. I could listen to something for 10 seconds and be like, "All right I don’t want to listen to this anymore."
Do you train differently for each fight, or do you have the same routine each fight?
BS: This is the first time I’ve ever been able to train for somebody. For the most part, unless you are fighting somebody you can get video on, other than looking at a record and seeing they win this way and how they lost or won, all you have is statistics.
Now, I do have some films I can look at. I do have some game plans that I can refine and workout. For the most part my game plan is to go in there and do what I want to do. He’s going to be trying to do the same thing. But, I’ve never really gone into a fight being like, "don’t do this."
Who would you love to fight as your “Dream Fight”?
BS: Obviously a dream fight that could happen would be GSP. Dream fights that who knows could ever happen? I wouldn’t mind fighting the best in the world and beating Anderson Silva. Fedor, I wouldn’t mind fighting, but him being a heavyweight would make things definitely difficult.
I swear to god, I would just love to do it to be like, “I kicked this [expletive] as hard as I could in the face, once. How many people could walk and be like, “That’s right, I lost to Fedor, but I made him bleed.”
What about Shane Carwin?
BS: Dude, that guy’s a beast. I mean, he flew under my radar. I never knew much about him. He fought Gabriel Gonzaga. Gabriel is a bad man and he got rocked.
Have a question you’ve always wanted to ask an MMA fighter? Send Brad an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org and he will ask that question in the next Q & A.