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PLANTATION, Fla. – Ben Saunders is still able to speak confidently about his abilities despite experiencing a rough stretch going into UFC on ESPN+ 8.
Saunders (22-11-2 MMA, 8-8 UFC), who meets octagon newcomer Takashi Sato (14-2 MMA, 0-0 UFC) on Saturday’s card, holds no doubt his 1-3 record from 2018 doesn’t properly reflect his skills. His 92-second knockout loss to Lyman Good, for example, was a fight Saunders accepted on just two weeks’ notice. Saunders said he attempts not to make excuses, but the circumstances were less than ideal.
“Like most professional fighters, we don’t make excuses – it’s just learning experiences,” Saunders told MMA Junkie on Wednesday. “There’s been so much going on in my life within that time period that it’s been hard to focus completely and getting the correct preparations for the fights that I feel like I’ve needed. Obviously two weeks notice was a little lack of preparation there, but nonetheless I 100 percent know my skillset, know what I put into the game, the time I’ve put into the game, and I think I have one of the most unique skill sets not just in my division, but in the world.”
UFC on ESPN+ 8 takes place at BB&T Center in Sunrise, Fla. Saunders vs. Sato is part of the prelims on ESPN and the main card on ESPN+.
One lesson from MMA history is that it’s rare for a fighter to go into competition in a perfect physical and mental condition. Whether it’s injuries, self-doubt, issues with home life and personal relationships, or any other number of variables, every trip to the cage brings a different journey with it.
A fighter can still win even when things go terribly wrong, and Saunders has been there too, but he wants to show the world his potential when everything is in place.
“Ultimately I know for a fact I have the skills to beat any welterweight in the world,” Saunders said. “The champion, you name it. Top 10, all of those guys. I just need to put it together outside and inside the cage and prove it. I don’t really like talking too much about any of that stuff. I’ve always been a firm believer in the hard work, and results speak for themselves. Last year was another active year but it was a very on-and-off year. But I 100 percent believe when everything is aligned correctly, and I have everything in order, there’s not a welterweight alive who can beat me.”
Saunders will hope to have a night where everything is clicking when he meets Sato at UFC on ESPN+ 8. The fight has additional meaning to Saunders because he was born in nearby Ft. Lauderdale and still has family in the area, and he hopes he will be able to deliver.
“My thing more than anything is just to be me,” Saunders said. “Be aware of what he’s good at, be aware of what he what he brings to the table and if you respect your opponent you won’t get caught slipping. Just because I am the most experienced veteran he’s fought, I’m probably the tallest, lengthiest guy he’s ever fought, doesn’t mean I should by any means think it’s going to be a steam roll. I have no doubt in my mind that he’s going to be very well prepared.”
News | MMA Junkie