Since his Bellator debut in 2011, Ben Saunders has been one of the most visible and entertaining members of the promotion’s welterweight division. But unfortunately, he was never able to win a tournament, failing to secure the Big Check in three consecutive years. And so, in the wake of his head kick knockout loss to Douglas Lima at Bellator 100 in September, Bellator has released the Killa B. Bjorn Rebney explained the decision in a statement released to MMAMania:
“I’ve been a ‘Killa B’ fan for years, and Ben’s given 100 percent of his heart every single time he’s stepped into the Bellator cage. After competing in three Bellator tournaments, Ben could never get to the top of that mountain, and as we continue to grow and expand I spoke to Ben and we both decided it was time to move in a different direction, so we provided Ben his complete release.”
Saunders compiled a 7-3 record in Bellator, with two of his losses coming in the finals of 170-pound tournaments — both to Lima, both by second-round KO. Last year, he also lost a decision to Bryan Baker in the semifinals of Bellator’s Season 6 welterweight tourney. Just like Yushin Okami, Saunders could have theoretically continued on this “perennial contender” path forever, coming close to title contention in Bellator, but not quite reaching the goal. Instead, he’ll be looking for new opportunities in World Series of Fighting or One FC, with the rest of MMA’s lost souls.
It’s understandable that Bellator wants to get some fresh bodies in the division. Then again, they just released a guy who won three of his last four fights and still has more name value than any other WW currently in the company besides War Machine. Did Bellator make the right call here?
Update: Ben’s tweet from last night…