This weekend, at UFC 153, Stephan Bonnar will step into the cage against the greatest MMA fighter on the planet today. And he'll attempt to do what no man has done in 15 tries inside the Octagon - defeat Anderson Silva. The odds are against Bonnar - ridiculously so. And for good reason. It's not just that Silva is so good, it's also that this is a huge step up for Bonnar.
But this fight also represents a huge opportunity for Bonnar. It's a chance to truly leave his mark in the UFC, to create his legacy, and to put his name in the record books. Of course, Bonnar's name already will be mentioned in any history of the UFC. His Ultimate Fighter season 1 fight with Forrest Griffin is the stuff of legend - a fight that almost single-handedly brought MMA into the mainstream. Ever since that fight, Bonnar has been guaranteed a spot in UFC history. The trouble is, that spot has always come with another name attached.
Bonnar has always been overshadowed by his opponent in that fight - Forrest Griffin. Griffin, who went on to win the UFC Light Heavyweight title. Griffin, who was fighting Tito Ortiz just a year after the TUF fight. Griffin, who since the Bonnar fight has fought every single one of his fights on the big stage of a UFC main card (in contrast, Bonnar has only found his way to the main PPV card 5 times, and one of those was against Griffin). It's hard to look at Bonnar's legacy without seeing Forrest Griffin.
At UFC 153 Bonnar can change that, can emerge from the shadow and become his own name. Obviously a win would do it, but the interesting thing is, he doesn't even need to win. He just needs to do something Griffin couldn't - make it a fight. When Griffin stepped in against Silva, the result was one of the most lopsided destructions in MMA history - a Wanderlei vs. Sakuraba-esque slaughter with one man showing his complete dominance. Griffin has never been the same.
If Bonnar can avoid that fate, if he can push Silva and actually pose the kind of challenge Forrest never did, then he can, for the first time, succeed where Forrest Griffin failed. In short, seven years after their date with destiny, Stephan Bonnar can finally defeat Forrest Griffin and stake his claim as an important figure in UFC history on his own merits.
UFC 153 is Stephan Bonnar's last shot at a legacy. And it comes against the most difficult opponent imaginable. So will he emerge from the fight as a legend? Call me crazy, but I think he will. And he'll finally have his own well-deserved place in history.