As such, the things in the sport that motivate most don’t hold the same appeal to Saunders. He was going to be in the gym whether he was in the UFC or not; it just happens that he’s in the biggest promotion in MMA. And while wins and titles are always nice, as he gets ready for a UFC 245 bout with Matt Brown on December 14, it’s not the be-all end-all of his existence.
“I thought our paths were gonna meet a long time ago, actually,” he said of the meeting with fellow vet Brown. “He’s a savage and it’s an absolute honor to be able to fight him. We’re gonna bring violence to that cage, there’s no doubt about it.”
Saunders-Brown is a matchup of two old school battlers who are about the fight, not what happens before or after it. They’ve got the track record to prove it, and while there aren’t any rankings or belts on the line, it doesn’t really matter. It’s almost a throwback to the days when MMA was the wild wild west, and not a sport where every fighter is at least proficient in every combative art.
“I almost feel that they’re all getting a sugar-coated path,” he said. “There was no blueprint for me. I’m very fortunate to come from Jeet Kune Do, trying to train every style, take what’s useful, discard what’s useless and create what’s essentially your own. That’s where I come from. I may have been the only person on The Ultimate Fighter that was a Jeet Kune Do practitioner. Some people laughed at that, and you can laugh all you want, but that’s the reality. Now everyone has the blueprint. Now there are teams that have been in the game since the beginning and coaches that have been in the game for so long that they’ve seen it all. I think the evolution of the sport is going to be never-ending. It went Royce Gracie jiu-jitsu, then Mark Coleman ground-and-pound, and then it went to Mo Smith and sprawl and brawl. And now we’re seeing it all. It’s all going to keep evolving and I’m just super grateful to be a part of it since the beginning.”
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