Now I know what your thinking, Bonnar is a slow pillow-fisted fighter who only knows how to block punches with his face. He can't wrestle his way out of a paper bag. And he hasn't had a real meaningful win in his career. (At least as far as contender ship is concerned.) And he has some losses that make it hard to justify his spot on the roster, at first glance. If you look a little deeper into Bonnars record you'll notice that he's had a pretty rough trek through the light heavyweight division.
First off, we are all familiar with what would soon become the stuff MMA legends are made of in the TUF 1 Finale. Where a balls out performance by Bonnar was overshadowed by another performance of testicular fortitude by one Forest Griffin resulting in the latter winning the first Ultimate Fighter reality show and the former still being awarded a contract. Now I'm sure this is the point in which the detractors will cry "Dana just did that because it was a close fight and both guys went balls to the wall in a slop fest that the fans would eat up." Which is hard to argue with until you realize that no else has been able to warrant similar treatment in the last 10 seasons. After his TUF 1 loss Bonnar went on, for him what we'll go ahead and call a tear, Hoger in what was a very close fight, Irvin in a first round stoppage and a decision win over the always game Keith Jardine. Then he had to go up against the newly crowned TUF 2 champ Rashad Evans coming off his first victory at 205. We all know how that went, moving on he lost the rematch to Forest which wasn't surprising as Stephan really is a poor mans Forest Griffin. Controversy ensued after the bout due to Bonnar testing positive for an anabolic steroid after the fight. Bonnar acknowledged that he had taken a band substance, paid a fine and took his nine month suspension like a man. Next Stephan rebounded with two consecutive wins via stoppage against some game but middling opponents. (When was the last time you could say that about Forest? Here's a hint nobody was talking about Fedor fighting cans) Which brings me to his latest spree of getting his shit pushed in.
Stephan Bonnar had the bad luck of being pitted against up and coming prospect Jon "Bonescrusher" Jones, which in hindsight makes me think that Stephan must set a bus load of nuns on fire in a previous life because the ass whooping that was about to commence was of biblical proportions. Now call me a masochist but this is the fight that brought my fanboyism to the next level. Now I don't know about y'all but this was my first glimpse at Jones. His only previous UFC fight was on the prelims at UFC 87, so when I saw Stephan Bonnar standing across the cage from a very large black man with the wing span of a pterodactyl I was initially a little worried for my boy. Then the fight began, and the plethora of highlight real strikes and throws that ensued made me a believer of 2 things. One Jon Jones is a Jedi. Two and more importantly Stephan Bonnar isn't made of the same stuff as most people. Whether it was the bones jarring slams or the spinning wheel house of death that is Jones' right elbow, Bonnar kept scrapping himself off the canvas ready for more. Now obviously the fight was extremely one sided and basically served as Jon Jones coming out party, but the fight served Bonnar as well. It was his first fight after knee surgery and he actually managed some good offense in the fight, (Little known fact but Bonnar actually won a round in that fight, I believe it's the only round to date that anyone has won against Jones Matt Hamill aside. ) and showed great resiliency. But enough about Jon Jones let's move on.
Next up for Bonnar was probably his biggest stage to date UFC 100. Bonnar was slated against aging veteran and double leg takedown machine Mark Coleman.( Aging veteran does not mean washed up, contrary to what you might think .) This was yet another test of attrition for Bonnar. He was battered and bruised for the first round, cut open by multiple elbows( coincidentally "Battered, Bruised and Bleeding" is the title of Bonnar's upcoming autobiography.) But Stephan would come back in the second maintaining an omoplata for most of the round as well as getting the better of the brief exchanges on the feat. Unfortunately for Bonnar the third was back to basics for Coleman. After receiving a continuous barrage of punches and elbows the previous two rounds and supporting a 220 pound man with you testicles for ten minutes, Bonnar began to wilt. Now that's now to say Bonnar stopped fighting that man doesn't stop fighting he was trying to sweep and trow up submissions the entire time not content to lay on his back and cower and cringe for the remaining time. But the result was yet another one sided loss for Bonnar, but our hero would not be deterred.
After several months off Bonnar returned at UFC 110 to take on the appropriately nick-named Krzysztof " The Polish Experiment" Soszynski. The fight was an after thought for most, a match solely to fill a spot on the card not significant in the least outside of entertainment purposes and entertain it did. The bloodbath that followed was something right out of a Cormac McCarthy novel. After a ultra-violent first round where Soszynski went straight up Dresden on Bonnar's face, the always resilient Stephan came back and actually out pointed the Polish bomber to even things up at one apiece going into the third. And that's when tragedy would strike, an incidental headbutt would halt the bout in the third, and due to some questionable refereeing and an incompetent athletic commission the fight would be ruled a TKO loss for Bonnar. Which Brings us to our latest fight, a rematch with Soszynzki to settle the previous loss. Many questioned the relevance of this fight they said it would go down exactly like the last fight, they said Bonnar should hang em up, they said he has no business in the Octagon altogether. Soszynski himself said he was a bit upset about having to fight Bonnar again since although the match ended prematurely he felt he was well on his way to winning the third round. Well UFC 116 was Bonnars chance to prove his doubters wrong, and he did. And as Joe Rogan stated this fight was simply a continuation of the previous one, Bonnar and the "Polish Power" ( Yeah, I just did that.) started round four of there fight just like we thought they would. As the leather and blood went flying it looked like Bonnar would indeed suffer the same fate as the last time. After the first round as usual "The American Psycho" looked like a bloody mess. When the second round started once again all caution was thrown to the wind and they continued with their own personal prison riot in the cage, Soszynzki showed no hesitation to engage with Bonnar. His crippling power would match Bonnars granite chin and his hand would be held up after the fight, he would be ready to move on to bigger and better things. Of course Bonnar had other ideas. Stephan used a technique he probably picked up at Xtreme Couture, in between exchanges he would press Putski into the cage and allow himself to avoid eating his usual two dozen strikes a minute it was in this lull that Bonnar unleashed a vicious knee and put the big man down for the count, and gaining his first victory in three years.
Now I don't expect all of you to feel the same way about Bonnar as I do. ( No Homo) You don't have to like the way he fights, or his unimpressive record, our the fact that he takes beating that would kill a horse every time he fights. But you should respect the man, he goes out there every time outmatched and delivers an exciting fight. He knows he will never be a contender, he knows that betters would pick a blind three legged doxen in a fight over him but he remains undeterred. He fights simply for the love of fighting and the love of his fans, and that's why I will pay to watch him in the UFC. Any knocks you can make on the guy aside and I know there are a shitload, he fights for you and me and that's it, he's not making some ridiculous salary or anything, he just wants to do what he loves and get paid for it, and you have to respect that.