UFC 153: Stephan Bonnar exclusive interview
Can Stephan Bonnar cause a massive upset at UFC 153 in Brazil? (Image: supplied)
UFC light-heavyweight Stephan Bonnar has been a household name ever since his fight with Forrest Griffin on The Ultimate Fighter 1 finale put the UFC in mainstream consciousness.
His exciting style, never-give-up attitude and sense of humour have ensured that ‘The American Psycho’ is always a fan favourite.
In this Roar exclusive, Stephan is just a few days shy from facing the biggest test of his career against middleweight champ Anderson Silva at UFC 153 this Sunday. Here he candidly discusses the Silva fight, Forrest Griffin and his thoughts on Aussie fans.
Jason Tulio, for The Roar: How is Brazil treating you, Stephan?
Stephan Bonnar: Pretty damn good I must say. I thought they’d all be pro-Anderson but it looks like the crowd’s going to be on my side. They love me here, ha.
JT: Now this card has been pretty messy with a lot of injuries and withdrawals. Most of us know the story, but how did you end up getting this fight, in your own words?
Bonnar: I got a text from my manager asking how I felt about fighting Anderson in less than a month and I said ‘Hell yeah, but good luck pulling that one off’ because I tried to campaign for big fights and I couldn’t get them. I guess they were in a tight spot and he was able to pull it off.
JT: How was your training for this fight? Did you do anything different?
Bonnar: Just trained my ass off for three weeks and two days. I tried to get into as good a shape as possible.
JT: With the limited time constraints, did you think you were able to get into the shape needed to fight someone like Anderson?
Bonnar: We’ll see. Obviously it’s nice to have the full time to prepare for a fight but I did a pretty damn good job in the short amount of time.
JT: You’re a massive underdog coming into this fight. Yet in your career you’ve never been knocked out or submitted and you’re coming off a three fight win-streak. How do you see this fight going?
Bonnar: It’s going to be a tough, gruelling fight – typical of my type of fight. I think it’s going to be my type of fight – aggressive and get after it. I don’t think I could fight any other way.
JT: A lot of others have tried. Do you think it’s possible to find a weakness in Silva?
Bonnar: Yeah, anything’s possible.
How do you feel fighting in front of Silva’s home crowd?
Bonnar: It’s great. I couldn’t have wrote it any better. I think it’s definitely a disadvantage for him to fight at home. It’s a lot of pressure.
JT: What did you think of his last fight with Chael Sonnen? I mean, it seemed like he had the best chance out of everyone yet he got stopped in the second round.
Bonnar: He still won the first round. Not many people take rounds from Anderson but he did.
JT: You did an advertisement with Forrest Griffin where he gives you advice on Anderson. Did that happen in real life?
Bonnar:(Laughs) Yeah. I mean, we have coffee sometimes, shoot the shit and they like to come and video tape it because it’s usually humorous and entertaining. It wasn’t too helpful of advice. Luckily I talked to Chael after that and he gave me some better advice.
JT: What was Chael’s advice?
Bonnar: Well that kind of plays along with my strategy a little bit. Pretty much, the talk with Forrest didn’t do much for my confidence but the talk with Chael did. Let’s just put it that way.
JT: You’ve spoken about how you’d like this fight to define your legacy. Can you explain a little bit what you mean by that?
Bonnar: I don’t know, I never talk about my legacy. Other people do.
JT: In the UFC promo video, you discussed your legacy.
Bonnar: It’s what other people think of you and frankly, I don’t give a damn.
JT: Two years ago, you fought Krzysztof Soszynski at UFC 110 in Sydney. How was that experience?
Bonnar: Well, it sucked. They had a rookie doctor with a rookie athletic commission with a rookie referee. We had a referee who missed the head-butt call. We had a doctor not letting me finish the fight with three minutes left and it crushed me. But I got my chance to make it right and I did.
JT: What did you think of the Australian fans and their love for the sport and the UFC?
Bonnar: It was pretty awesome. We fought at like 11 in the morning because of the time difference and there wasn’t an empty seat in the house. Usually in Vegas when the main card starts, the place is still empty.
JT: After becoming a household name with TUF 1 and with fans all over the world, what keeps you motivated?
Bonnar: What really motivated me was getting called up pretty much out of retirement to fight the pound-for-pound king in his backyard on a month’s notice. That motivated me.