Just two weeks ago, the 9th anniversary of The Ultimate Fighter Season One finale rolled by without much fanfare. It seems like just last week Stephan Bonnar and Forrest Griffin turned loose a whole new wave of MMA fans. They were dubbed "TUF Noobs" and represented a dedicated bunch, ravenous for more fights. UFC president, Dana White has gone on record more than once to say that fight was the main reason people got so hooked on TUF, thus allowing new life to be breathed into the failing enterprise that was the UFC.
These days, Stephan has retired, and has a variety of activities to occupy his time. In a recent interview with MMA Sentinel, he discussed his latest endeavors, what things he's crossing off his bucket list, and if he still gets the itch to compete. Here's what he had to say:
Stand & Bang Style
Honestly, the reason I've had a lot of fights like that is because nothing else is working for me. I have had some fights where things worked and I didn't have to resort to that, but most of the time I did have to resort to it because that was the way my fights went.
Yeah, it'd be great to be super precise or a big, heavy puncher like Chuck Liddell, but I'm like C's all around with a good chin and always come in shape. That's just the way I had to get shit done, not because I wanted to show off.
Everyone knows that me and Koscheck haven't had the best relationship. We haven't gotten along too well in the past and we had our differences, but I actually find myself rooting for him now. He's the last of our breed; one of the last guys from Season 1 that's still going. All these young guys are taking over now, so yes, I'm a Koscheck fan.
When he fights, I root for him. I caught myself by surprise because there was a time where that wasn't the case, but yeah, I'll say to myself, ‘Are you actually pulling for this guy?' and I'm like, ‘Yes, I am. Go Kos!'
Golden Era of Sponsorship
As far as my own experience, 2006-2008 was kind of like the golden era of sponsorship where more money came in. It really blew up during that time, then it kind of leveled off. After that, they started putting in the rules about sponsors having to pay "X" amount of dollars and things like that. A lot of the MMA companies put a good deal of money out there without a good business plan and ended up sinking.
The other thing we have to consider is that in 2008, the economy went to shit. The whole entire country took a hit. The MMA companies weren't making that money like they had been. When the economy goes to shit, it affects everything. Even in my last couple fights, the sponsor money was still good.
I never looked at fighting as something I could retire on and be set for life. It was always a hobby that I did for fun. I never had the belt and I was never the guy making the big, big money. It was never in my head that I could rest on my accomplishments and live comfortably ever after.
I never wanted to be one of those guys that everyone says should retire but they have no other way to make money so they keep fighting. That's just depressing even thinking about that. I'm glad I never became that guy.
For the last year I've been day trading, and I'm pretty serious about it. I wake up at the crack of dawn, and it's something that I'm really hungry for. I put a lot of time and energy into it, and I'm pretty good at it. Once I made a good trade and made 5 grand, I'm like, ‘Holy shit! Why would I bust my ass for 3 days at an Expo making 10 grand and having to put 7 grand back into the company when I can just learn a little bit about this trade?'
All you need is an internet connection. You've got no boss. You can do it in your underwear [laughs]. It gives me a way to make good money while I check shit off my bucket list. That's how I look at it; it gives me the financial freedom to pursue the crazy childhood dreams I have been wanting to accomplish.
I know I'm only 37, but in 5 or 10 years, I might be too old to do some of the things on my list, so I'm checking shit off. I've been surfing a few times, but I just got the hang of it yesterday. I finally got up on the board, and it wasn't a fluke. I rode the wave in and I was able to do it again and again. It clicked and was exciting.
That is something that I truly love to do. There are few things in life that I really just love, and calling fights is one of them, so when Titan offered me the opportunity to do it, I jumped on it. You get the best seat in the house, you get to call the action; it's the closest you can to fighting without going through all the Hell it comes with.
I don't really get the itch, but if I got offered a bunch of money to fight Forrest or somebody like that, maybe. It's not like I'm punch drunk and shot. I'm in decent shape. I still go to the gym, roll and hit pads. Let's put it like this; I know I could do it, but I don't want to.
If they wanted me to go in and fight one of these super talented up and comers...I don't think so, but if they wanted to throw a bunch of money at me to fight Forrest again [laughs], maybe we can talk. Forrest would probably do it, too. We're really good friends, so I'm pretty sure he would if it was a big payday.
That will never happen though. Dana is about developing talent in guys that are hungry to win a title, and that's not either one of us. Just hypothetically speaking, there's a bunch of money on the table to go fight Forrest, it would be hard to say no to. That said, I'm definitely content with hanging it up.
Loyalty & Dana White
I wouldn't fight for another promotion. It's about loyalty. More than anything, I take pride in being a part of the UFC and I wouldn't want to screw that up. Even my commentary job with Titan, when I got the offer, I said, 'I'm probably not going to be able to take the job because I'm loyal to the UFC, but let me run it by Dana and see what he says.'
I told Dana about the offer and he was like, ‘Titan, yeah, I'm totally cool with it.' He gave the official OK and I took the job. We've always gotten along well and are good friends. I'm not going to do anything that would jeopardize my relationship with the UFC or Dana.
You can follow Stephan via his Twitter account, @StephanBonnar