Veteran welterweight Ben Saunders is set to begin his second UFC journey at Fight Night 49 in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Saunders will be making his return after a four-year absence against promotional newcomer Chris Heatherly on Aug.23.
Saunders had a previous seven-fight Octagon tenure that ended back in 2010, but has earned another shot thanks to several victories in other promotions. Heatherly will get his first taste of the big time after continuing his winning ways against Josh Cavan at RFA 16.
“Killa B” initially made a name for himself on Season 6 of The Ultimate Fighter. Saunders went 4-3 in his first UFC run with three finishes. He recorded impressive first-round stoppages of Marcus Davis and Brandon Wolff. Saunders was released after suffering back-to-back decision losses to Jon Fitch and Dennis Hallman.
Saunders has recorded eight wins outside the promotion since 2010, including a solid 7-3 record with Bellator. Two of those setbacks came in the welterweight season tournament final against current 170-pound champion Douglas Lima. Saunders is an aggressive fighter who has proven finishing abilities, with 13 of his 16 career wins having come by knockout or submission.
Heatherly is riding a four-fight unbeaten streak and has produced an 8-1 career record. That lone loss came against hard-hitting welterweight prospect Alex Garcia. “Stump” has five wins by knockout or submission, and is getting the opportunity to test his skills against a proven veteran. The 5-foot-8 Heatherly will face a significant height disadvantage against the 6-foot-3 Saunders.
It will be very interesting to see if Saunders is able to make some noise in his second go-round with the promotion. He does have a fan-friendly style and has shown some explosiveness in the past. Heatherly can certainly make an immediate impact if he can defeat Saunders in his first UFC appearance.
Rick LaFitte is an MMA Writer for Rant Sports