Despite not fighting in 2020, Ben Saunders knows his year wasn’t as bad as it could’ve been.
After Saunders was knocked out by Matt Brown at UFC 245, his contract with the UFC was over and they chose not to re-sign him. The hope for the veteran was to quickly sign with another promotion and get back to the UFC. However, like most people’s 2020, Saunders’ year did not go as planned as no opportunities came up. With his dad battling a rare form of blood cancer, it also put Saunders in a difficult spot.
“2020 has been an absolute cluster for the world. I feel fortunate that I am healthy and have everything in my life kind of going well considering the fact,” Saunders said to BJPENN.com. “My family asked me to move back closer to home because my dad has been battling a rare form of blood cancer for a while now. He is considered high-risk and when everything shut down, I was in Vegas. I tried to do a cross-country trip home, and fortunately, it worked out.
“Ever since I’ve been back, luckily my dad is doing well and it is a weird time, I’m trying to train. But, my family is scared because of my dad and I don’t want to give him the virus,” Saunders continued. “I’m wearing a mask and keeping my distance from him. 2020 was kind of a wash, but I am in a fortunate spot despite not fighting professionally this past year. The opportunities were pretty thin for everybody, but I almost got back into the UFC the week of the London show was canceled and they wanted to do it in Vegas, but at least in the States.”
Once everything shut down, Saunders did wonder when he would fight again. Like most, he didn’t know when the world let alone combat sports would get back to normal.
However, during the time he was at home “Killa B” knew he would fight again, and retirement never crossed his mind.
“If you are smart in the fight game, you know how limited your time is. I don’t believe thinking about retirement is a bad thing as you need to have a plan after fighting,” Saunders said. “I’m pretty intelligent with understanding how damaging this business is and how it might impact my future. I pay attention to these things, I don’t have any slurring, I get my brain and body checked often. Me currently, I have been lucky and fortunate to be able to keep everything together.”
Now that promotions are starting to have fights, and gyms are opening back up, the hope for Saunders is to sign with a promotion soon. The goal is to fight by April and fight three to four times in 2021.
“I would say at least try to get a fight in before April. Then, fight every three-four months after that,” Ben Saunders explained. “Just break the year into quarters and fight every quarter and pick up some wins. The fights have to make sense for me. I don’t have to fight just to fight, I’m at a point in my career, where the money or the promotion would dictate if I fight.”
If Saunders does remain active, he knows the chances of getting back to the UFC are very strong. The 37-year-old is a fan-favorite and puts on exciting fights. He and his management also remain in contact with the UFC. Saunders believes he will only need a win or two to get back into the Las Vegas-based promotion.
“The UFC is always an option. I don’t think it would take much other than an impressive win or two to show I still got it,” Saunders concluded. “As far as opportunities, short notice stuff comes up all the time. I just have to be willing and ready to take them.”
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