Short-notice fight vs. Lyman Good at UFC 230 was no-brainer for Ben Saunders

NEW YORK – There was no hesitation when Ben Saunders found out he had a chance to fight at one of the world’s legendary venues at UFC 230 this week.

When he was pestering UFC matchmaker Sean Shelby trying to find out when he could book another fight, Shelby came back with a response Saunders might not have been expecting.

“I hit up Sean, (and) I was asking to get another fight lined up,” Saunders today told MMAjunkie. “He said this was available and I said, ‘Madison Square Garden? I’ve got to jump on that.’ You only live once, and this has been on my bucket list since Day 1. Madison Square Garden – this is an historic moment and an historic place to fight. If this is the only opportunity I could possibly have to do it, that’s why I’m here.”

Saunders (22-10-2 MMA, 8-7 UFC) takes on Lyman Good (19-4 MMA, 1-1 UFC) in a welterweight bout at UFC 230, which takes place Saturday at Madison Square Garden in New York. The main card airs on pay-per-view following prelims on FS1, including Saunders-Good, and UFC Fight Pass.

Saunders is a replacement for Sultan Aliev, who bowed out less than two weeks ago with an injury, paving the way for Saunders. And since Saunders was only a month removed from a submission loss to Sergio Moraes in Brazil, he didn’t hesitate for a chance to get that bad taste out of his mouth.

“Absolutely – no damage taken in the (Moraes) fight, so I was absolutely ready to jump back in,” Saunders said. “The second I got back (to the States), I immediately started training again. It hasn’t stopped since, and I was ready to go.”

Saunders is in a bit of a rough patch with stoppage losses in three of his past four fights. But a knockout loss to Alan Jouban earlier this year was a “Fight of the Night” winner, and his lone win in that stretch, a TKO of Jake Ellenberger, got him another $50,000 bonus.

But his loss to Moraes happened to be the first time he has been submitted in an MMA fight. Given his grappling credentials, the assumption could be that was a blow to the ego. Not the case, though, Saunders said.

“Considering who it was against, the quality of the opponent – a three-time world jiu-jitsu champion – it made it easier to swallow,” he said. “But nobody likes to lose, and I liked not having that blemish on my record. But at the same time, as a martial artist, I try to be egoless and I try to not let things like that get to me. That’s why I got right back on the horse, got right back to training, and didn’t really let it mess with any of my mental motivation and I’m ready to go.”

Saunders is a heavy underdog against Good, who will be fighting in front of his home fans – but also fighting for the first time in 15 months, and just the second time since July 2015. Good is a 6-1 favorite in the fight; the comeback on Saunders makes him a 4-1 underdog at +400.

But those things don’t seem to worry him, nor does preparing for any particular game plan Good might bring to the table.

“We train for everything,” Saunders said. “… I try not to focus too intently on too much of the task at hand, or a Plan A, because anything can happen in a fight. You need to be able to adapt to every situation, every style. If Lyman got injured and they put someone else in here, I’d have to adapt immediately to the new opponent. You can’t be too stuck in your ways, but it’s nice to have a good path.”

For more from Saunders, check out the video above.

And for the latest on UFC 230, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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