Exclusive Ben Saunders Interview: Killer Instinct
Ben Saunders is known for two things so far in his young MMA career.
One is being a cast member under Coach Matt Serra during The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) Season 6.
The other is the dominating performance he put on against Brandon Wolff at UFC Fight Night 16: “Fight for the Troops,” where he brutalized the Hawaiian with an onslaught of devastating knees in the clinch that led to a gruesome first round knockout victory.
Needless to say, the 7-0-2 American Top Team product would like to make it a hat trick at this juncture in his career and put another lasting memory inside the cage while continuing to work his way up the UFC welterweight ladder.
On the immediate horizon for “Killa B” is a UFC 99 matchup with a very dangerous 170-pound contender in Mike Swick, set to take place in Cologne, Germany on June 13.
A win over “Quick” would likely expedite his hopes of one day becoming a champion and put him right in the mix with the other top contenders.
On the other hand, a disappointing loss would send him back into the middle of the welterweight heap.
Something has to give.
“Killa B” graciously took some time out of his busy training schedule to discuss the Orlando Magic (his favorite team), fighting overseas, his teammate Thiago Alves, and of course, the aforementioned Mike Swick.
Have a look:
Derek Bolender (BleacherReport.com): I understand you consider yourself an Orlando Magic fan being that you were born and raised in Florida and also train in Pembroke Pines at American Top Team. What is your prediction for the NBA finals?
Ben Saunders: I hope they destroy LA (laughs).
Derek Bolender (BleacherReport.com): What’s going to be the difference in the series? Break it down for me.
Ben Saunders: Honestly I know LA is going to put up a fight. I’m hoping it doesn’t go to Game Seven. Hopefully we can get them before that. I’m thinking four games to two.
Derek Bolender (BleacherReport.com): Your upcoming fight against Mike Swick at UFC 99 will take place in Germany. This is your first professional fight overseas. Are you okay with all the travel and being able to adjust to the time zone and everything that comes with it?
Ben Saunders: I guess we’ll find out. I’ve never fought international. I’ve never even traveled international. I just got my passport. I’m looking forward to it. A lot of people talk about the time zone difference and everything but I don’t work a regular nine to five so I’m not used to being on a strict schedule at all times.
I don’t think it will really affect me too much. I’m pretty sure I arrive at like 7:30 in the morning. I’m just supposed to be drinking lots of water, walking around in the sun, and getting my body adjusted. Hopefully it does its job.
Derek Bolender (BleacherReport.com): Swick is a bit of a jump in competition for you. Are you ready to take your career to the next level?
Ben Saunders: (laughs) It’s about time! Damn!
Derek Bolender (BleacherReport.com): Swick has fought 10 times in the UFC so you have a wealth of tape on him to try to figure him out. What have you learned about him in your preparations?
Ben Saunders: I know he’s quick but once again this is welterweight. I don’t think he’s going to be as quick as he was against the middleweights at welterweight. I think it kind of showed in his past couple of fights in the sense of Josh Burkman and Marcus Davis. The hand speed really didn’t come too much into play there.
Granted, he did end up getting Jonathan Goulet, but I’m not Jonathan Goulet. I think I’ll be the bigger, stronger, more powerful guy that night. He isn’t going to have the reach advantage. As far as strong points, his strong point is my strong point and that’s striking, so we’re going to go to war.
Derek Bolender (BleacherReport.com): On the other side of the coin you have fought just four times in the UFC. Do you think that could play into your favor a little bit since he can only familiarize himself with you to a certain degree and there is still a bit of a mystery there?
Ben Saunders: Definitely man. By no means do I believe I have shown anything of what I know I’m capable of in any of my fights. Look at my last fight. I injured my opponent within the first twenty to thirty seconds and then it was just more of a killer instinct. I jumped on him and didn’t let go.
I don’t really think he has too much tape he can really look at to prepare for someone like me. I think I have a very unorthodox style. I believe I’m tough competition for anyone.
Derek Bolender (BleacherReport.com): Would you like to make an official prediction on the fight?
Ben Saunders: Someone is going to get knocked out. I’ll predict that it’s going to be Mike Swick. As for how, when, or what point in time I can’t tell you. I just kind of go with the flow. Wherever the fight goes I feel comfortable and confident to win by any means.
Derek Bolender (BleacherReport.com): If you are lucky to come away with a victory over Swick where does that put you in reference to the other welterweight contenders?
Ben Saunders: I don’t know. If I beat Swick impressively I’ll be begging Dana White and Joe Silva to try my luck at a top ten welterweight.
Derek Bolender (BleacherReport.com): I think you actually have to beg to them on the actual telecast after your fight. That seems to work out pretty well for a lot of guys, right?
Ben Saunders: That’s the plan.
Derek Bolender (BleacherReport.com): I think I might already know the answer to this but who do you like to come out on top at UFC 100 between Georges St. Pierre and your teammate Thiago Alves?
Ben Saunders: Thiago is going to knock him out.
Derek Bolender (BleacherReport.com): Are you okay with fighting your teammate Thiago Alves if that happened to fall into place for both of you?
Ben Saunders: Man, if it ever came to that where I become the #1 contender and Thiago has the belt. I mean, that’s probably the best fight in American Top Team history. And if anything, UFC history.
I think it would be a very exciting fight. We’re both in it to test ourselves against the best in the world. It would be nothing personal. At the same time I don’t’ even want to think about that until it actually happens.
Derek Bolender (BleacherReport.com): That’s all I had for you Ben. Is there anything you would like to pass along to your fans out there or any sponsors you would like to thank?
Ben Saunders: Thank you for all the support. I keep looking to go in there and do what I do best, which is fight my ass off and put on a show. Come June 13 you’re going to see a show.
Derek Bolender (BleacherReport.com): Alright, thanks again Ben. Best of luck in a couple weeks. I look forward to speaking with you again in the future.
Ben Saunders: Thank you very much.
Derek Bolender is a staff writer for InsideFights.com and has also been featured on CBSSports.com, FoxSports.com, MMAmania.com, BloodyElbow.com, etc… Look for future articles from him on BleacherReport.com.