clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

UFC Fight Night 103 fight card: Court McGee vs Ben Saunders full fight preview

MMA: UFC Fight Night-Saunders vs Robertson Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Welterweight veterans Court McGee and Ben Saunders will brawl this Sunday (Jan. 15, 2017) at UFC Fight Night 103 inside Talking Stick Resort Arena in Phoenix, Arizona.

McGee may never contend for the 170-pound title, but he’s been a consistently tough out in each of his UFC appearances. He’s facing a man with a similar reputation here, meaning this could very likely turn into a “Fight of the Night” contestant. For whatever reason, UFC decided not to re-sign Saunders last January even though the veteran won three of his last four bouts. A quick armbar win on the regional scene helped the organization reconsider, and now “Killa B” can begin his third UFC run.

Let’s take a closer look at the keys to victory for both men:

Court McGee
Record: 18-5
Key Wins: Dominique Steel (UFC Fight Night 92), Robert Whittaker (UFC Fight Night 27), Josh Neer (UFC 157)
Key Losses: Santiago Ponzinibbio (UFC on FOX 19), Ryan LaFlare (UFC on FOX 9)
Keys to Victory: For a long, long time, McGee’s greatest weapon has been conditioning. He’s a solid wrestler with some tricky kickboxing, but McGee is able to win fights largely because he maintains a higher volume than his foe and is tough as hell to actually stop.

This is an interesting fight for several reasons. Saunders is vulnerable to power punchers, but that’s never really been McGee’s strong suit. Similarly, Saunders does his best work when breaking his foe down or wrapping them up in crazy submissions, but McGee is one of the most durable guys around.

So what exactly does McGee need to do to win?

The best case scenario for McGee is that he works his way inside into the clinch. Saunders has a nasty double-collar tie, but he’s also vulnerable to punches from there. McGee’s chin makes that a favorable exchange, and he could also use his wrestling to drive into his foe’s hips and negate the knees.

From that distance, McGee can chip away at his foe. Saunders has a solid gas tank, but he likely can’t match McGee in a grinding affair. As his foe slows, McGee can mix in some takedowns and work from top position as well.


Ben Saunders
Record: 20-7-2
Key Wins: Kenny Robertson (UFC on FOX 16), Joe Riggs (UFC on FOX 13), Marcus Davis (UFC 106)
Key Losses: Patrick Cote (UFC Fight Night 81), Douglas Lima (Bellator 100)
Keys to Victory: Saunders is a nasty kickboxer who excels both at range and in the clinch. One of the very few fighters who actually makes great use of rubber guard inside the cage, he’s also a jiu-jitsu black belt under Ricardo Liborio.

Between his tricky guard and brutal kicks, Saunders has finished an impressive 16 opponents. Saunders has two possible strategies in this bout. On one hand, he could attempt to blow McGee out of the water immediately. McGee is historically difficult to finish, but Ponzinibbio handed him his first stoppage last year, and Saunders’ has a sneaky game to catch any wounded foe.

Alternatively, Saunders can attempt to maintain distance and wear down McGee’s body. McGee may have great conditioning, but repeated kicks to the mid-section and legs will slow anyone down. If Saunders can keep his distance and slow McGee down, it will really benefit him. He’s a far heavy hitter at range, and if McGee is too slow to close distance, Saunders will be able to batter him with knees whenever he tries.

Bottom Line: There’s not much divisional relevance, but it’s the exact kind of fun, competitive match up that both these athletes provide.

Unless someone undergoes a career renaissance of Robbie Lawler proportions, neither man is going to push into the top 10 or go on a title run. A win here doesn’t really build much momentum; instead, it sets the winner up for another match up like this or a test opposite an up-and-comer.

Similarly, neither man should be at risk of being cut, as they have both won their most recent fight. That said, Saunders did not deserve to be released last year, so his situation is a bit uncertain.

At UFC Fight Night 103, Court McGee and Ben Saunders will battle. Which man will leave the Octagon with a win?

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the MMA Mania Daily Roundup newsletter!

A daily roundup of all your fighting news from MMA Mania