When fighters suffer defeat, they go back to the drawing board and learn from their mistakes. They figure out what went wrong, and make corrections for next time. Not often, though, do fighters get to learn directly from their victorious opponents.
But, there are always exceptions.
Enter Ben Saunders. After his second-round submission loss at UFC Sao Paulo last weekend, the veteran welterweight had a brief, impromptu grappling session with Brazilian Sergio Moraes, who beat ‘Killa B’ with an arm triangle.
Saunders was sitting in the back after the fight. The shuttle back to the hotel was delayed multiple times, so Saunders had to stay at the arena longer than expected and watched the rest of the card there instead.
Saunders, who again congratulated Moraes in the back a bit earlier, sat down at the table closest to the TV showing the fights. Moraes and his team happened to be sitting at the same table, and thus conversation sparked up.
“We were very cordial, nice, and obviously he was happy with the win, so he was in a great mood,” Saunders told BloodyElbow.com.
Despite the language barrier between Saunders and Moraes, the pair of welterweights began talking about jiu-jitsu, as both are submission specialists. That led to Moraes showing Saunders a transition from omoplata to mount.
“Once we started doing jiu-jitsu, it was like we were speaking the same language,” Saunders said. “He showed me the mount, then when I was doing it, I was like, ‘Yeah, normally I’d do this,’ and that was the gogoplata. He was talking a little bit about how he was using an underhook. It was really cool.”
Saunders said he plans to use the transition Moraes showed him in future training sessions — and perhaps his future fights.
“I think that mount from the omaplata that he wanted to show me was freaking awesome,” Saunders said. “It’s definitely something I’ll play with and throw into my game after losing.”
Saunders said the level of respect he and Moraes showed for each other after their fight is “rare” today. He also expressed his interest in training with Moraes down the road; Moraes recently told MMAjunkie.com that Saunders coming to his gym could create issues, so Saunders isn’t sure it’ll happen.
“He seemed nice and said yes, but I think I read an interview that the coaches or teammates might not be so cool about it, which is understandable,” Saunders said. “I just kept an open mind. I’m all about as many martial artists as I can before I die. Who knows what’s going to happen down the line, but at least that’s an option that’s still open.”
Saunders said he didn’t suffer any injuries last Saturday, so he wants to get back into the Octagon by the end of the year or January 2019.
“Definitely getting right back into it,” Saunders said of his next plans. “The most positive thing about the fight is I got no injuries, so that allows me to get right back to training, get right back to work, get right back to improving. Right back to work. There’s a lot that I learned in this fight, so there’s a lot I can work on.”
Saunders is commentating EBI 17 in Los Angeles this weekend. The grappling card will feature a 16-man middleweight ‘Combat Jiu-Jitsu’ tournament, featuring open-handed strikes while on the ground.