Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Welterweight veterans Peter Sobotta and Ben Saunders will duel this Sunday (May 28, 2017) at UFC Fight Night 109 inside Ericsson Globe in Stockholm, Sweden.
Since his return to the Octagon, Sobotta has found a fair amount of success. He’s won three of four fights, showing off a more well-rounded game in the process. Plus, Sobotta has a pretty decent fan base in Europe, which is a staple of international Fight Night main cards. Like his opponent, Saunders has seen a mix of the regional scene and UFC over the years. He just returned to UFC after being released bizarrely, won a single fight, and then returned to win a tough decision a few months back.
Let’s take a look at the keys to victory for both athletes:
Key Wins: Nicolas Dalby (UFC Fight Night 93), Pawel Pawlak (UFC Fight Night 41)
Key Losses: Kyle Noke (UFC 193)
Keys to Victory: Sobotta is definitely a jiu-jitsu specialist, and he’s finished 10 of his wins via tapout. In his recent fights, Sobotta has shown more advanced striking and wrestling, which is a big reason he’s been successful.
This is definitely an interesting match up. While Sobotta is something of a generalist, Saunders is very much a range kicker with a dangerous guard game. Saunders is going to play his game regardless, but it’s up to Sobotta to choose whether to punch his way inside or attempt to grapple past his foe.
While either path could lead him to victory, it seems best for Sobotta to find his early opening for the takedown and jump on it. Saunders’ bottom game may be dangerous, but Sobotta is an experienced black belt. He should be able to handle it and score points while doing so. In addition, a wrestling-heavy gameplan will fatigue Saunders more than a kickboxing match. In a potentially close fight, the third round is often the decider, and that’s where Sobotta’s conditioning edge could make an appearance.
Key Wins: Court McGee (UFC Fight Night 103), 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 dangerous man. On the feet, his potent combination of long kicks and clinch knees has ended the night early for nine foes, and his crafty grappling has earned him another seven finishes.
Lately, it seems that if Saunders doesn’t secure that finish and the fight heads to a decision, it’s going to be a damn close battle. Saunders’ big key to victory is likely his kicking ability. The last time Sobotta went up against a veteran with a similar skill set to Saunders — kicks and submissions — in Kyle Noke, he was the favorite. Instead, a single perfectly-place snap kick to the body ended his night almost instantly.
In this match up of Southpaws, Saunders’ favored left body kick may not be quite as available to him, but it’s still a target he should be aiming at. If Saunders can maintain distance with hard kicks and the jab, there’s a fair chance he can make Sobotta’s life fairly miserable.
Bottom Line: It’s a fun match up of veterans.
Sobotta returned to UFC with goals of making it to the Top 15, and it’s still too early to completely rule that out. His loss to Noke was definitely a setback, but a win here would make it four of five. That’s a solid accomplishment, and it could earn him a step up in competition.
A loss, meanwhile, stalls any forward momentum and keeps him firmly in the middle.
“Killa B’s” situation is a little different. I say this without any disrespect, but it’s reasonably clear at this point that Saunders is not a title contender unless he undergoes a Robbie Lawler-esque career renaissance. Luckily, he’s perfectly suited to put on great fights — with the occasional highlight-reel finish — in the middle of the division, and there are always fellow veterans or up-and-comers in need of a showdown.
Win or lose, Saunder’s position should remain about the same, assuming UFC doesn’t unfairly release him again.
At UFC Fight Night 109, Peter Sobotta and Ben Saunders will battle on the main card. Which man will have his hand raised?