Ben Saunders is still two wins away from fighting for a Bellator welterweight championship. If he gets there, there's two options as far as opponents go, but he won't have to wait long to find out the answer. Current champ Ben Askren and No. 1 contender Douglas Lima will determine that at Friday night's Bellator 64.
But Saunders has a hunch that the underdog Lima will be the one to topple the undefeated Askren and emerge with the belt.
"I say Lima," Saunders said during a recent interview. "Obviously he’s got the better hands, the better standup, he’s got the knockout power."
That's not to say he's dismissing Askren's chances. The four-time All-American collegiate wrestler is still unbeaten in his career at 9-0. But the way Saunders sees it, Askren only has one way to win while Lima's dangerous everywhere.
That, he thinks, will make the difference.
"Anybody you throw in with Askren, Askren’s going to have the wrestling advantage," he said. "But he had a hard time with [Jay] Hieron, so we’ll see what happens. Lima’s real slick off his back, so I’m actually looking forward to seeing if [Askren] does get the takedown, what he can actually do from there, or if he’s going to be a little hesitant, defensive, stay there and make sure not to get submitted or give anything up. If [Askren] wins, no offense, he’s got phenomenal skills, but I think in my eyes from fighting [Lima], and seeing what he’s capable of, probably a five-round decision."
Saunders (13-4-2) has history with Lima, suffering a knockout loss against him last November, and certainly would like a chance at redemption. To earn the opportunity, he has to get past Bryan Baker in the semifinals, and eventually, the winner of the Karl Amoussou vs. David Rickels fight.