When Jose Aldo succumbed to injury, UFC 153 was left without a main event. Two men stepped up to make a main event happen on the fight card that takes place in the HBSC Arena in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on October 13th. UFC Middleweight Champion, Anderson Silva (32-4, MMA) offered to fight in his hometown and the card was saved. Bonnar answered the call to step up and take the fight on a month’s notice, proving he’s a true warrior ready for any challenge.
The last time Stephan Bonnar (15-7, MMA) fought in Brazil he faced Lyoto Machida on the 13th of September. When he steps in to fight arguably the greatest MMA fighter of all time, it will be on October 13th. Both Bonnar’s and Silva’s names have 13 characters. Anderson has 13 UFC finishes, Bonnar has 13 UFC fights. Bonnar’s also a 13 to 1 underdog coming into this 3-round, non-title fight. What does it all mean?
On Wednesday afternoon, Bonnar spoke with a small group of reporters at One Kick Nick’s gym in Las Vegas and spoke his thoughts and superstitions about his upcoming fight. “There’s a lot of weird superstitions, there like 5 Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays in October that happens once every 139 years,” Bonnar said. “A lot of strange s**t is happening. Kid coming, and stars aligning, and 13 and five Monday, Tuesday, Wednesdays getting called out of retirement to fight the pound-for-pound best fighter in the world in his backyard and being such an underdog, it’s all so perfect. I really believe it’s part of the plan.”
When Bonnar took the fight, he didn’t even believe it would happen. He had previously campaigned to fight Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, that didn’t happen. He had wanted to coach The Ultimate Fighter this season with Forrest Griffin and have a rubber match against him, that didn’t happen. Maybe there is a time and place in one’s life where everything collides in one moment, for Bonnar this might be the acme, the pinnacle of a long, storied career.
His nickname is the “American Psycho.” It’s possible it takes either pure insanity or sheer bravery to take on the top pound-for-pound fighter on a month’s notice. But, Bonnar knew he just couldn’t pass this fight up. “Very rarely does a great opportunity come along, even if it is a long shot opportunity. That’s kind of the story of my life. I’m kind of like, I don’t have the best luck. I’m kinda the bad luck kid. Every once in a while a great opportunity comes along and I take advantage of it. I did that with season one and this is the biggest opportunity to ever come my way. It kind of tops season one I’d say.”
The fight he referred to was an all out brawl that he had with Forrest Griffin in the season one finale of The Ultimate Fighter. The fight propelled the UFC to become the phenomenon it is today and Bonnar and Griffin became instant stars with the organization. People who had never heard of the sport tuned in to see the fight and were amazed at the two men who were giving each other everything they had in a war that went the distance. Though Bonnar lost and was not crowned the Ultimate Fighter, the fight has gone down as one of the best of all time. Like that fight, Bonnar said there’s no way he’s going to face Silva and not give it all he’s got.
“The odds are stacked against and no one’s giving me a chance and I kind of like it that way. It’s no pressure on me,” Bonnar stated. “I just know what I can do. I’m not the type that’s always fixed on outcomes. I’m more of the type that asks God to give me the strength to do my absolute best in there. I mean look at every fight I’ve ever had, always had, I’ve been hit with lots of big shots, but I get up and keep coming.”
For Bonnar, making it further than Forrest did against Silva isn’t his concern. He just wants to carry on like any warrior would and hopes to give Silva the fight of his life. “I’m not to fixed on the outcome so much. I’m just going to give him hell and give him everything I’ve got in there and do my absolute best. And we’ll see, that can lead to a victory,” said Bonnar.
Since fighting Griffin in the TUF 1 finale, Bonnar said nothing has topped that for him, until now. “It’s a defining moment of my whole life,” Bonnar explained. “This is like the culmination of it all. I really think it’s all meant to be, it’s perfect it really is. It feels like all the stars are aligning just like it did on that magical night for the UFC back when I fought Forrest for the first time. I could shock the world.”
Stephan admitted that prior to accepting this fight, he was considering putting an end to his legendary MMA career. “I was just kind of retired and moving on with my life. And then, out of nowhere an opportunity like this comes along and like that, everything completely changed and it’s just been full steam ahead getting ready for this fight.”
He further explained that when UFC President Dana White denied him the opportunity to coach TUF, he was ready to hang it up. White’s said in the past that typically the guys he wants coaching TUF, are guys who are hungry for a title. When Stephan admitted that he wasn’t planning to make a run at the 205 title, he wasn’t offered the TUF coaching gig. Bonnar said with that news he was ready to retire.
Now that he’s come out of retirement and is getting back into shape to fight, that’s all changed. His mentality now is to not get finished by Silva and maintain his record of never being submitted or literally knocked out. “To me getting knocked out or submitted is death. To me I’m locked in a cage with Anderson, there’s no referee. So I’m going to try my hardest not to die. Tapping out, that’s death to me. There’s no one in there to save you. That’s the way I think of it. That’s probably why I haven’t been legitimately stopped.”
Win or lose against Silva, Bonnar said he isn’t certain what’s next after this fight. At least by the time the fight ends, one thing will be certain. Bonnar will become a father to a baby boy that he’s thinking of naming “Griffin Bonnar”. The name he explained isn’t necessarily to name his son after Forrest, but to “name him after history,” Bonnar explained. Come October 13, in a light heavyweight 3-round bout against Anderson Silva at UFC 153, Bonnar could make history again and may have to consider a middle name for Griffin. Maybe Griffin Anderson Bonnar? We’ll see…