Takashi Sato marked his UFC debut in style. He stopped Ben Saunders early in the second round in Fort Lauderdale with a straight left from the Japanese southpaw effectively ending the American’s involvement in the fight.
There were warning signs for Saunders in the opening round as Sato looked to find a home for his straight left. But it was the TUF and Bellator veteran who was controlling the action, outmuscling the former Pancrase title challenger in the clinch while landing a series of knees.
Sato looked on course for a decision defeat in his UFC debut. But one left hand was all it took for the 28 year old to drop Saunders barely a minute into the second stanza. The American was badly hurt and a flurry of follow up shots had the referee diving in to save him from further punishment.
The end came at the 1:18 mark and saw Sato put himself in contention for a performance bonus, as well as announcing himself to the UFC’s welterweight division. He improves to 15-2 while Saunders drops to 22-12-2.
Speaking through a translator after the win at UFC Fight Night on ESPN Fort Lauderdale he actually expressed dissatisfaction with his performance with Sato presumably feeling he should have done better in the opening round,
“It wasn’t my best performance, but I was able to get the win. Now, I’ll take one step at a time, I don’t want to rush. I’ll go back home, train, work on my mistakes and see what UFC has stored for me next. I’ll be ready,” Sato said.
Afterwards Sato dedicated the win to Tribe Tokyo team mate and training partner Akiba Iyori who died three years ago in a traffic accident.