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PHOENIX – With the start of his third stint in the UFC out of the way, Ben Saunders can get back to what he hopes is some normalcy – and hopefully making a more steady paycheck.

On Sunday on the main card of UFC Fight Night 103 in Phoenix, Saunders (21-7 MMA, 8-4 UFC) returned to the UFC and took a unanimous decision from his friend Court McGee (18-6 MMA, 7-5 UFC). The result was one that was debated – roughly half the media tracked by MMADecisions.com scored the fight for McGee instead of Saunders.

But with a hard-fought victory out of the way, Saunders perhaps can get some order back. After a loss to Patrick Cote a year ago snapped a three-fight winning streak in his second stint in the UFC after a long run for Bellator, Saunders left under odd circumstances without a contract renewal.

He took a fight in Minnesota this past September and submitted fellow former UFC fighter Jacob Volkmann in just 17 seconds, but paychecks on the regional scene aren’t going to pay that many bills.

“I don’t like talking about my personal life and my personal business, but realistically, it’s been a year since I’ve fought,” Saunders said after his win over McGee at Talking Stick Resort Arena in Phoenix. The main card aired on FS1 following prelims on FS1 and UFC Fight Pass. “This is what I do for a living, and that’s a long, long time to (not) make some money. Yeah, I fought Volkmann, and yeah, I won in 17 seconds. But that wasn’t a lot of money by any means. In fact, it was just possibly paying the bills off from the six to eight months that I didn’t have a job, and then I went into this fight in debt.”

Saunders said he was hoping for a “Fight of the Night” bonus for him and McGee. As it turned out, that didn’t happen. That honor went to Augusto Mendes and Frankie Saenz on the preliminary card.

The extra $50,000 certainly would’ve helped Saunders get rolling again if his bank account was indeed in the proverbial red.

“I did everything I could to make a camp and be prepared and be in as best shape as possible,” he said. “With this money and this win bonus, that’s only going to allow me to get bigger and better training camp possibilities and have more focus on that and less stress. Unless you’re a fighter, you don’t understand the stresses (we) go through.

“The holidays were here and I wasn’t able to really enjoy anything. The focus had to be on the business at hand, and that was the fight. As much as I love my friends and my family and all that, Christmas and New Year’s was mediocre at best.”

Maybe his win bonus will help him have a belated holiday celebration.

For more from Saunders after his win over McGee, check out the video above.

And for complete coverage of UFC Fight Night 103, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

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