Chris Saunders may not have been the most recognizable name amongst the fighters on this season of The Ultimate Fighter, but if his performance on the show is any indication, he’s out to change that.

Aside from his decision loss to WEC veteran Chris Horodecki in Bellator, the majority of Saunders’ fights have come with regional promotions, and he does not come from a big fight camp. Couple that with his hard-fought elimination fight with Chase Hackett to get into the house on the reality show, and even Saunders understands why he was the last pick of Team Faber.

“I don’t think that people were really familiar with me,” Saunders told The MMA Corner. “Some of these other guys train with guys that are in the UFC and can vouch for them; I don’t have that.”

Saunders (R) delivers an elbow against Sam Sicilia (Kari Hubert/Zuffa, LLC)

Asked if hearing his name called last was motivation to work any harder during his 13-week isolation from the outside world, Saunders revealed a different take on the situation.

“It was and it wasn’t,” the lightweight explained. “It lit a little fire under my ass, but it was a good thing. It got me on Faber’s team and I couldn’t be happier about that. That is what got me my fight with Sam Sicilia.”

The fight with Sicilia was a major turning point in the season. Sicilia was Team Cruz’s No. 2 pick and Saunders’ decision win showed he was more than capable of playing spoiler. Not only that, the win shifted the momentum toward Team Faber’s favor.

“(That win) catapulted me up,” recalled Saunders. “It was awesome.”

Although Saunders fell short against Vinc Pichel in the quarterfinals—in a fight that many felt should have gone to a sudden-victory round—the performance was enough to earn him a fight against another highly-touted prospect, Myles Jury, on the season’s finale on June 1 from the Palms Casino in Las Vegas.

“I think I got matched up in this fight because they see potential in me,” stated Saunders. “He’s already got a name. He comes from a camp where there are UFC guys. I think I can really prove a point here.”

Proving that point will mean defeating a two-time participant on the reality show, as Jury was forced off season 13 due to a knee injury. Although he did not make the finals, Jury carries an undefeated record in fights outside of the show.

Saunders (

“I see it being a great fight,” declared Saunders. “I think the first round will be a war, but I’m definitely going to weather it. I’m looking to take this fight into deep waters, like Al Iaquinta did (on the show). I’m not worried about getting hit. I’ll be coming forward in this fight and putting the pressure on. I see me winning by TKO or decision by pushing the pace and him breaking later on.”

Saunders’ confidence leading into the fight comes from what he learned while on the reality show. Although some of his housemates’ behavior wore on him during the show, he was able to make the most of the experience.

“My mentality of how I look at things has changed,” Saunders proclaimed. “I learned a lot of patience. Having world-class training partners from Team Alpha Male, I learned so many skills and great techniques.”

And with the taste of what a big camp has to offer, Saunders has yet another reason to perform at his best on Friday night.

“Obviously I want to win, get the contract and move to a big camp,” Saunders said with a big smile on his face.

A win over Jury will not only cement his place in the UFC, but give him the opportunity to find that big camp he so desires.

Top Photo: Chris Saunders (