Ben “Killa B” Saunders was born at Broward General Hospital Downtown in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida on April 13, 1983. Growing up, Saunders was a natural athlete and loved competing at a high level. His older brother Jacob, who had been studying Karate, was all too happy to show and practice moves on him. When Ben moved to the city of Coral Springs, Florida he made a friend at school in third grade that was studying the Korean Martial Art of Tae Kwon Do, and began practicing daily with him at age eight. Due to his poor financial status he was unable to pay for legitimate instruction. He was forced to make up for this by studying and training in anything or on anyone he could get his hands on. Already being obsessed with Martial Arts and Bruce Lee, Ben( and the select few who were even aware that such an event existed ) got his first taste of Mixed Martial Arts competition. In complete awe he witnessed Royce Gracie dominate the tournament in the first ever “Ultimate Fighting Championship” live on pay-per-view. Ben was only ten years old at the time and had somewhat of an epiphany, almost immediately having the feeling he was looking at his future and knowing the path to reach his place in the world. After Gracie Jiu-jitsu had been introduced, Ben became aware of the fact that his game had to evolve into a system which incorporated all aspects of ranges and distance of the fight game including ground fighting.

 

One day while Ben was walking through the mall with some friends he saw a Jeet Kune Do booth set up, offering a chance to train at a new local Academy. Already being a Bruce Lee and JKD fanatic, he wasted no time in signing up at age 14. Times were tough though, and the training would not be cheap. Ben began working at fast food restaurants just to pay the tuition. Small in stature (at the time) and slim in frame, Ben nonetheless proceeded to excel in JKD at a phenomenal rate of speed. Training at the Academy apparently was not enough so he spent countless hours training himself, incorporating a self taught approach of every martial art he found effective. This included working out with his high school wrestling team and sharing his knowledge of submissions in exchange for wrestling techniques. During high school Ben began to get quite the reputation as someone who although would never instigate violence or throw the first strike, was someone who simply would never back down from a challenge no matter who made it. Countless street fights and even a bus fight provided yet more practice and experience for the hungry young martial artist. Finally maturing as a martial artist he realized his approach to testing himself in battle needed to be channeled in a more positive and socially acceptable way. He realized the only legal path for him to test his abilities would be through mixed martial arts competition.

 

When Ben later left for Orlando at age 18 to attend college, he began training in MMA at United Champions Martial Arts under the tutelage of talented and respected local UFC fighters Din Thomas and Paul Rodriguez. He was able to finally learn the essence of the sport aspect rather than just the street fighting and self defense applications. Later, after United Champions closed, Ben talked with Paul Rodriguez and learned that Gracie Barra Orlando was forming a new MMA team in which Paul had been recruited into. With Paul’s endorsement, Ben began training under Marcio Simas and had his first MMA bout against Crafton Wallace on only three days notice as three opponents had backed out at the “Absolute Fighting Championship 8″ May 1st, 2004. A fight which stole the show and was marked as the fight of the night as both competitors battled back and forth till the final bell. Even though the bout ended in an action packed DRAW, Saunders was still smiling. Ben got what he was looking for out of the bout, which was confirmation to himself that this is what he was born to do.

 

After four bouts within the AFC promotion, Ben was forced to make the difficult decision between his head instructor and friend Paul Rodriguez who had moved over to American Top Team, and his home at Marcio Simas’ academy, eventually going with his loyalty to Paul. After this successful transition, Ben captured the “Combat Fighting Championship” welterweight title and was later cast on the hit Spike television show “The Ultimate Fighter: Season 6”.  After the show Ben went on to gain 3 straight victories in the UFC. Including the Muay Thai clinic he performed on Brandon Wolff at “UFC – Fight for the Troops”. After such an amazing display he got his shot at higher competition. He came up short in a battle with UFC veteran Mike Swick, but immediately bounced back with the destruction of Marcus “The Irish Hand Gernade” Davis. His next bout who was intended to be Martin Kampmann but due to a cut changed to Jake Ellenburger, was once again changed on 48 hours notice. Ben heard his fellow teammate Thiago Alves was unable to fight title contender Jon Fitch do to medical issues. Ben immediately text Joe Silva and Dana White asking if they would like  him to step  up on short notice to help, he was very game and eager to test himself. Ben believed he had the skills to beat the #2 welterweight in the world, a fight which gave him an unexpected title shot if he won. Unfortunately the fight didn’t go as planned and he lost an uneventful judges decision. But he went the distance and knew this would only help his career and assist in his learning and experience. The next fight was against another very tough veteran and one time UFC title contender in Dennis Hallman. A man who has been in the game since the early days of MMA, and has racked up close to 100 fights in his career. Hallman was able to win a decision in a fight that when on the feet showed how talented Ben’s striking was, but on the ground showed his opponent’s strengths as he was able to nullify Ben’s offense which once again had been on the wrong end of a judges decision. Ben realized this was just another great test and added the much needed experience in which he felt he may have been lacking. The UFC then cut Saunders from their roster, but in a positive light as they told him to work on his wrestling and take-down defense, get a few wins, and come back. So that is exactly what Ben has been doing, and it began with a 1st round victory over Elijah Harshbarger at “World Extreme Fighting” where he was the main event. His ultimate goal in life since age 10 was the be The Ultimate Fighting Champion. A dream that is well within his grasp, and with non stop dedication, perseverance and above all an unbelievably positive attitude. There is no doubt Ben will reach that goal. One testament to all his hard work is the rank of Brown Belt under world renowned Brazilian Jiu Jitsu legend Ricardo Liborio, which he attained on January 16th, 2010. A journey which began 7 years prior in 2003 where Ben initially began his Gi training. Ben’s ultimate goal in life is and has always been to become a champion himself, and then use his knowledge and love of teaching to pass the torch on and create future champions.