There comes a time in every fighters life when he knows he has more fights behind him than he has ahead.
For 35-year-old UFC light-heavyweight icon Stephan Bonnar, that time came after the last of three straight losses a TKO to Krzysztof Soszynski. Aside from marking his third straight loss, Bonnar had now dropped five of his last seven and there were whispers that the man who was part of arguably the most important fight in UFC history -- a slugfest with Forrest Griffin which put MMA and the UFC on the map -- could be dropped from the roster altogether.
Due to an inadvertant headbutt, Bonnar was given another chance at Soszynski and a shot at redemption, and like the fighter he's always been, the lumbering light-heavyweight snatched the opportunity and came forward with everything he had.
Now in the twilight of his career, and no longer considered a legitimate contender, Bonnar began to campaign another shot at his longtime nemesis Forrest Griffin and suggested that the two coach a season of The Ultimate Fighter, a send-off of sorts, but nothing came of it.
Then, earlier this month, while in Tampa, Florida, in semi-retirement, Bonnar got the call of a lifetime.
"I was actually out of town in Tampa, and I just got word about [the fight against Anderson Silva at UFC 153] and I though it was a joke," Bonnar told InsideMMA. "I really didn't believe it. I go from retired basically, to the biggest fight I could have ever imagined. And it's crazy just how life changes, and all the sudden my phone's blowing up, and I'm cool again."
Bonnar has gone from an afterthought to the tip of every MMA fans tough of late, but not many give him a real chance to win. He currently sits at +700 meaning he's a 7-1 underdog, very long odds indeed. But Bonnar believes that anything can happen, especially when you have nothing to loose.
"Anything can happen in there, that's the beauty of fighting. I just got to go in there and do my best. He is the greatest striker and most accurate, yada, yada, yada, but really I got a good beard, and hopefully he breaks a hand and foot on my head and I take advantage of it.
"If I beat Anderson Silva, I can probably get another big fight for a big pay day, but how can I top that? I've had a hard enough time trying to top the Forrest fight all these years, imagine beating Anderson? How am I gonna top that? I mean that would be the dilemma I would love to have. Do I hang it up, and have this perfect storybook ending, or keep fighting and make a whole bunch of money and be rich?
I have no hesitation whatsoever, I love this kind of fight. I'm like a record setting underdog, I have nothing to loose. I'm in his backyard, there is no pressure on me. If I get my ass kicked by Anderson Silva, hey there is no shame in that, and if I beat him I'm going to rule the world."