For a while, Stephan Bonnar became a bit of a punch line for plenty of MMA fans. He was a guy who was crappy, was losing more then winning, and was being kept around because of his involvement in one of the most important fights in the industry.
People made jokes about having him fight Tito Ortiz and Brandon Vera in 'Who is more irrelevant?' and 'Loser FINALLY leaves town' matchups.
Stephan Bonnar is not some great, amazing fighter with a ton of accomplishments...but I feel like he really gets degraded and downplayed a lot more then he deserves.
I'm not going to go through every one of his fights...and disect who he beat and why those are good wins and etc etc....but instead, I think it's more important to look at who he lost to. Because, the guys he beat, all that says is he is better than those guys. I think it's bes to look at it in more of a "Who are the guys that HAVE been able to beat Stephan Bonnar?" light.
Stephan Bonnar as a professional record of 14-7...He has won twice as many fights as he has lost. He's lost a 3rd of his fights.
Overall, as far as different opponents, he's faced 19 different opponents. 6 of his 19 different opponents were able to beat him. In chronological order they are:
1. Lyoto Machida - Bonnar was 3-0, Machida was 1-0. Bonnar lost the fight via TKO(cut) in the first round. Machida would go on to reach a 16-0 mark in his MMA career, becoming the UFC Light Heavyweight champion and defending the belt once(in razor thin fashion) before losing two times...after a vicious rebound fight, he is fighting for the title once again today, and by the time some read this, just MIGHT be the champion once again.
Is there any shame in losing to Lyoto Machida? I say no, like the song says, he's the best around(or at least one of them) and if Bonnar is garbage, then Franklin, Penn, Ortiz, Silva, Evans, and Couture are as well.
2. Forrest Griffin - Heading into the first fight, Bonnar was 6-1 and Griffin was 9-2. Heading into the 2nd fight, Bonnar was 9-3 while Griffin was 12-3. Griffin won both fights by unanimous decision. The first was 29-28, with all judges having Bonnar winning one round. The 2nd was a more dominant 30-27. At the peak of his career, Griffin would find himself with a 16-4 record as the UFC Light Heavyweight champion, having just scored back-to-back upet victories over Shogun Rua and Quinton Jackson.
Is it horrible to drop two fights to Forrest Griffin? Again, I say no...and seeing as Forrest has looked pretty not-great in his last 5 fights, losing 3 of them by KO...I would say he is on a fairly sharp decline. I certainly would not hate Bonnar's chances in a third match...at least he still has his chin.
3. Rashad Evans - At the occurance of this fight, Bonnar was sporting a 9-2 record while Evans was 7-0. Bonnar would lose the fight by Majority Decision where one judge scored the match a draw while another gave Bonnar 1 round to Evans' 2. Evans would stay undefeated on his way to becoming the UFC Light Heavyweight champion and reaching a perfect 13-0 record before being ruthlessly knocked out by Lyoto Machida, he has since rebounded with 3 straight victories.
Is a loss to Evans the mark of a terrible fighter? Not at all, only one guy HAS beaten Evans, and it's another guy Stephan lost to, Machida. Basically, Machida is pretty f'cking awesome(I mean, when some are reading this, he MAY even be the guy who just upset Jon Jones and returned as the champ). Nothing for Stephan to hang his head about here.
4. Jon Jones - Going into this bout, Bonnar's record stood at 11-4 while Jones' record was a perfect 7-0. Jones took the victory via unanimous decision(one 30-27 and two 29-28s). Jon Jones is the current(or depending on when you are reading this, former) UFC Light Heavyweight champion, and his record stands at an impressive 14-1(or 14-2, or 15-1) and at the this current height of his career, his only loss has been in the form of DQ where he threw illegal strikes in a fight he was dominating.
Will a loss to Jones be a glaring black spot on anyone's record? No, Jon Jones is being and has been hailed by some as one of the best young talents to come into the sport...and Bonnar being the last man to take him to a decision is fairly impressive in and of itself. Not to mention that he is likely the last man to arguably win a round against Jones...nobody since can really make a case.
5. Mark Coleman - Coleman was 15-9 at this point while Bonnar was 11-5. Bonnar would lose the fight via unanimous 29-28 decision. Coleman would go on to lose his next fight to Randy Couture and seemingly retire.
Is this one hard to live down? Heck yes, losing to 2009 Mark Coleman is a pretty damn bad thing. But I think everyone is allowed an off-night. Any given sunday? Chicken salad out of chicken shit? Something along those lines. I mean, he at least won one round according to the judges...it's still a very very bad loss, but Coleman is a former champion, and Bonnar may have simply had a bad night at the same time that Coleman had a good one.
6. Krzysztof Soszynski - Going into the first fight K-Sos was 23-10 and Bonnar was 11-6. The fight was quite back and forth, and after a head butt in the 3rd opening a large cut on Stephan Bonnar, the fight was stopped. The ref erroneously stated that the cut was caused by a punch and not a headbutt, causing the fight to be ruled a TKO(cut) as opposed to going to a technical decision or whatever else. In the immediate rematch, with K-sos at 24-10 and Bonnar at 11-7...Bonnar would decisively win the fight via TKO in the 2nd round.
Tough loss? I personally don't think there is much to be upset about in losing a back and forth fight by TKO due to a cut caused by a headbutt but not reported as such. Especially when you TKO the guy fair and square in an immediate rematch.
So there you have it. Stephan Bonnar is not amazing. But he has lost to only 6 men, of those 6 men, 4 of them went on to become UFC champions, 3 of them were undefeated when he faced them, and still have impeccable records to this day, 1 of them was a former champion, and 1 of them was an incorrect cut stoppage...and that is the loss he avenged.
So no, he isn't amazing, he may never become a champion. But the guy has absolutely fought some killers...yes, he usually loses to the killers...but so does practically everyone else. Let's stop acting like he is one of the worst fighters on the UFC roster and give the guy some respect.