This is a guest post by Stephie "Crooklyn" Daniels. Follow Stephie on Twitter @CrooklynMMA.
With Bellator 63 just a few more hours away, the quarterfinals of the welterweight tourney will be kicked off with some great matches. Of particular interest is the one between Raul Amaya and crowd favorite, Ben Saunders. With his last fight but a distant memory, Saunders hopes to get back on track in impressive fashion. I recently got a quick interview with Ben, and was able to get his thoughts going into this season's tournament.
SD: What do you know about your opponent?
BS: I don't really know too much about him. He seems like a brawling wrestler, so I'm going to be watching out for overhand rights and the takedown, for the most part.
SD: With this being Amaya's first fight on a big stage, how big a factor do you think cage jitters or stage fright will be for him?
BS: There's no doubt in my mind that this is going to be the fight of his life, and the fight of his career. Not only that it's the biggest stage for him, but I'm definitely going to be the biggest name and most experienced fighter he's ever gone against. Hopefully his training camp went well and prepared for me so we can get out there and put on a show for the fans.
SD: What do you like best about Bellator?
BS: I love Bellator. They're 100% top notch, and they treat me well. To be honest, I love their cage. I think their cage, and above all, their canvas and flooring is the best there is. The grip that I get on it...I just feel that their cage is the best that I've ever fought in.
SD: With most MMA fighters, their ultimate goal is to get into the UFC or get back into it's fold, but you seem to have found a really comfortable groove with Bellator. Is it not so much a priority as it once was for you to find your way back to the UFC?
BS: When i first started with Bellator, I wasn't sure what direction I was going to be going in or how I felt. Now, I've been with them for so long, and they've treated me so well, that at this point, I'm 100% down to work and stay with Bellator. I'm only getting older, so when I look at it, and ask myself what's really relevant, and what's really important, and that's being able to make a living. Being able to pay my bills. I'm able to do that with Bellator, and I'm down to build and grow with them.
You just never know. I can't be stupid enough or naive enough to not look at the what ifs of potential career ending injuries that could plague me down the road. I'm living in the now, and just doing the best I can to create a financial plan for myself for when my career starts to go a little downhill, or when I start losing my prime.
SD: How do you think you'd do in rematches against the guys you lost to, and is it important to you to avenge your losses?
BS: As far as the Lima fight goes, I felt I won the first round, and the second round, we both threw for the fences, and his landed. It is what it is. But hell, I'm always down to defend any of my losses. I expect him to win the title, and I'm expecting myself to win the tournament, so the Saunders/Lima rematch is a very high possibility. That fight doesn't get to me as much as the others, because it was a competitive match that I felt I was winning. We both put it all on the line, and it's something that I believe anybody can look at and say, 'Hey, on any given day, either one of those guys could have won that fight, in any kind of fashion.'
As far as the other three rematches, without a doubt, I know, for sure, that I could win. I felt that I wasn't able to showcase my skill and my talent, the way I was able to with Lima. With these fights, there's no doubt in my mind that I didn't perform to my abilities, and I think a rematch with those guys would be 100% different.
Everybody that I've ever lost to has had more experience and more fights than me. I think that has been a big factor that worked out well for them, because they put the time into their career and their skills to get to where they are. At this point in time, in my career, I've done the exact same thing. I feel I'm kind of breaking into my prime now, and I believe that I have the confidence and skills to finish anybody in a rematch.
Follow Ben via his Twitter account, @BenSaundersMMA