Ben Saunders made an immediate impact in his return to the Octagon this past weekend (Sat., Aug. 23, 2014) in Tulsa, Oklahoma, by submitting Chris Weatherly in the very first round at UFC Fight Night 49 (results).
For Saunders, his return to the Octagon was something he was looking forward to since he was cut by Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) way back in 2010. And though it took longer than he would have preferred, he was able to reach his goal.
During a recent guest spot on The MMA Hour, Saunders revealed there was a time where he thought his dream of competing inside the Octagon again would never be fulfilled, and it was all due to his beef with former Bellator president, Bjorn Rebney.
And though "Killa B" wouldn't go too much into detail, for legal reasons, he did admit there was a time he nearly considered retiring from mixed martial arts (MMA) to venture into kickboxing.
"There was a time where it was kind of reaching there. Things got a little dark and I almost thought about retirement. At that point, it was really just along the lines of, I fight for me, I fight because I love to do it, and at that time, I was basically put in a spot to where I wasn't going to be able to venture out and really make that happen again. So I was like, if I'm not going to be able to make this happen or get the opportunity, I'm just going to go to kickboxing. I'll leave MMA and move on to do that."
And much like Eddie Alvarez, Saunders thought he would never be able to break free of the Bellator chains, as he firmly believed Rebney wanted to keep him with the company for the rest of his career.
"Not to get too crazy, but it was with some stuff that was going on between me and Bjorn and Bellator and the way he kind of wanted to play his system and play his game. It was not what I signed up for. I never in a million years thought it was going to take me four years to get back into the UFC. For legal reasons, I'm not going to get too much into it, but it just pretty much seemed like there wasn't a way out. It was never my dream to stay with them for the rest of my career. In my opinion, that was his idea, or his hope."
According to Saunders, UFC officials did in fact contact his manger, Dan Lambert, after his first Bellator fight to confirm whether or not his contract with the Viacom-owned company would go further than the one bout.
Once his contract ran out two years later, Saunders signed to fight for Titan FC. But thanks to its "ZUFFA clause," Titan allowed Ben to ink a deal with UFC as a late replacement.
Ben, however, wanted to make it clear that he didn't have a beef with Bellator as a company, more so with Bjorn and a select few ex-employees who were also fired for bringing "negative energy" into the mix.
In his UFC return, not only did "Killa B" pick up an impressive victory, he also proved to Dana White, Lorenzo Fertitta and Joe Silva that bringing him back wasn't a mistake. On top of that, he also made history by becoming the first person to pull off an omoplata in the 20-year history of the promotion.