Heading into his rematch with Douglas Lima at Friday’s Bellator 100 event in Phoenix, American Top Team welterweight Ben Saunders is at the peak of his career. He faces Lima, once again, in the finals of a tournament.
Not only has Saunders gone 4-1 since his loss to Lima in the Season 5 final, he’s made enough progress in his career to make sure their rematch goes very differently than their first bout in November 2011.
“Honestly, both fights leading up to the (first) Douglas fight went really well and the fights (leading up to) this one went a little bit better,” said Saunders.
“I’ve had a lot of fights since me and him (first) fought and gained a lot of experience. I’ve gotten better everywhere technically. You learn more from a loss than from a win. So all of that I feel has helped improve my overall game.”
Saunders feels their rematch is going to be completely different because of the changes he’s made in his game, but he also feels that to ignore what happened in their first bout would be costly. Lima knocked Saunders out in their initial meeting.
“It’s a completely new fight, but it would be stupid to not look at the mistakes I made in the first one,” he said. “One of the biggest ones was trying to force something that wasn’t there.
“I think I lost focus and tried to jump in with the right hook, my feet weren’t under me when I threw it, and he timed and threw his right hook at the same time and connected, and that was all she wrote.”
Saunders told MMAWeekly.com that he feels that there’s not one single element that will make the difference the second time around, but more so his overall preparation will determine the outcome of Friday’s fight.
“I’ve been training my ass off and I feel very prepared; physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually,” he said. “It’s going to be a fight. It isn’t going to be easy, but I definitely plan on going out there and winning.
“My Muay Thai has gotten a lot better and I’m more prepared going into this fight than last one. At the end of the day, I have my wrestling, takedown defense, and improved jiu-jitsu. I think it’s all going to play a huge factor going into this.”
After falling short in his first Bellator welterweight tournament finals to Lima, Saunders feels now is his time and he’s not going to let this opportunity slip through his fingers.
“This is a pivotal point in my career. This is the biggest fight in my life. That is what it comes down to,” he said.
“Everything that I’ve put into my career – almost a decade of fighting and 25 years of training – all comes down to this. It’s definitely a big moment and I’m looking to take advantage of it.”