Orlando, FL native, and American Top Team representative, Ben Saunders AKA “Killa B” made his return to the cage last night at Bellator 39 against opponent, Matt Lee defeating him by way of TKO at 1:24 during round number three.
Saunders made his first public debut on The Ultimate Fighter 6: Team Hughes vs. Team Serra on Spike TV in September of 2009. Chosen by Team Serra, Saunders defeated Team Hughes opponent, Dan Barrera by split decision. Despite catching a bad case of the flu, “Killa B” pressed on and fought Tommy Speer in the quarter-finals, losing by unanimous decision.
Making his first professional appearance at The Ultimate Fighter: Team Hughes vs. Team Serra Finale, Saunders again faced Dan Barrera, chalking up his second victory over his opponent, this time by unanimous decision.
Since his introduction into the UFC, Saunders has faced many of the sport’s crème de la crème fighters, holding his own against the likes of Mike Swick, Marcus Davis, Jon Fitch and Dennis Hallman, all in under two years. It’s no secret this kid isn’t afraid to fight.
Some say that Saunders was thrown into the deep end a bit too early in his career. I say that’s not necessarily a bad thing. What better way to test your weaknesses than to face the best of the best. The downside to that philosophy is you may be in for quite a test or quite a beating, depending on how you look at it.
After two consecutive decision losses, Saunders was released from his UFC contract. According to Saunders, “The good news is they told me to work on my wrestling and ground game and then come back…” That is indeed good news for MMA and UFC fans across the world who love watching a passionate fighter put it all on the line every time he steps into the cage.
Since being released from the UFC, Saunders has won both of his last 2 fights. Besides last night’s TKO victory over Mike Lee in his (Saunders) Bellator debut, he also defeated Elijah Harshbarger by submission due to strikes at the lesser-known WEF promotion at WEF: Saunders vs. Harshbarger in November of 2010.
Now that “Killa B” has been snatched up by Bellator Fighting Championships we will get to see more of Ben’s explosive Muay Thai in action once again and that’s a “win-win” situation for everyone. Hopefully he is improving his ground game and training at ATT, I’m positive that he’s doing exactly that.
With a professional record of 10-3-2, two of those losses coming by way of decision against top UFC veterans Jon Fitch and Dennis Hallman and one KO at the hands of Mike “Quick” Swick, the talented “Killa B” has plenty of room for growth and is young enough to be considered part of the sport’s “new breed” of fighters.
If Saunders continues with a dominant rein during his time with Bellator, we might see him back in the UFC sooner than later. It’s obvious this guy was born to fight and a little time away from the “big leagues” is exactly what he needs to improve and come back stronger than ever.
Don’t get me wrong though. Bellator, even though smaller than the UFC is not a “minor” league by any means. Saunders is sure to face tough competition and most of the Bellator fighters have the same goal in mind; gain the attention of the UFC by dominating their weight class in Bellator.
While this may be true, there is one advantage that Saunders has over most of the Bellator fighters; he’s already fought top competition in the UFC and knows exactly what he must do for redemption.
I for one am glad to see the “Killa B” back in action and fighting for Bellator but, I do look forward to the day when I see him back with the UFC.