Anderson Silva is the sport’s greatest fighter. Stephan Bonnar is a semi-retired fighter best known for being on the wrong end of a decision to Forrest Griffin. Is there any way he can win this Saturday? FanSided’ Elton Hobson think you shouldn’t count Bonnar out just yet.
Let’s get the obvious complaints out of the way first, shall we?
First, there are the fans who feel this fight is a freak show fight and a total waste of time. I truly feel bad for these fans – clearly they suffer from amnesia, or some other form of brain damage, if they can’t remember that this fight was a last-minute replacement designed to save a card in the wake of UFC 151’s cancellation.
I’ve also yet to hear what fight this contingent of MMA fandom would have realistically booked instead of making Bonnar vs. Silva the main event of UFC 153. Still waiting, guys.
Then there’s the fans who believe this fight will be a complete and total blowout. And let’s be honest here, that’s most fans I’m talking about now. But so what? It’s not like this is the first time Anderson Silva has headlined in a fight he’s widely expected to walk through. Or did fans honestly think that Patrick Cote, Thales Leites, or James Irvin would be the guy to dethrone MMA’s greatest fighter of all time.
But again – so what? Anderson Silva is the sort of fighter where every one of his fights has at least half an expectation of being a blowout. Unless he’s facing off against someone named Sonnen (and even then), “The Spider” is always expected to breeze through whomever he’s facing with his usual mix of Zen calm, bullet-time physics, and funky dancing after the fight.
It doesn’t matter, because every single one of Anderson Silva’s fights is an “event” in the combat sports world. And that’s the genius of this fight. Against a popular, marketable guy like Stephan Bonnar, in his backyard, in a fight outside his normal weight class with no world title on the line – we get to watch Anderson play. And that’s worth my $49.99 every time.
Stephan Bonnar is an extremely popular fighter who’s actually riding a three-fight winning streak, but let’s be serious here – does anyone give him even half a shot against Anderson freakin’ Silva at UFC 153 this Saturday?
Well, I do.
But only half a shot, at best. After all, taking the guy who has two losses to Forrest Griffin, and putting him against the guy who absolutely devoured Forrest Griffin’s soul isn’t the recipe for an evenly-matched fight.
But Bonnar has some things going for him in this fight. For one, he’s a bigger, taller, (likely) stronger fighter with greater reach than Silva. Of course, all that was true for Silva’s previous opponents at light-heavyweight, and it hasn’t mattered a lick.
But Bonnar is also a BJJ black belt under the legendary Carlson Gracie. Does that mean I think Bonnar will submit Anderson Silva? Not likely. But I do think he’s more than capable of surviving on the ground against Anderson, assuming the fight even goes there.
And finally, there’s the intangibles. Stephan Bonnar has never been KO’ed or TKO’ed (outside of cut stoppages) in his 21-fight career. And before you knock Bonnar’s level of competition, the list of people who couldn’t knock him out includes Rashad Evans, Lyoto Machida, and some dude named Jon Jones.
And mentally, you couldn’t approach a fight from a better place than Bonnar is this coming Saturday. Coming out of “retirement”, getting the marquee matchup you’ve always wanted in a “just for fun” fight with nothing to lose – the conditions are all in place for an excellent performance from Bonnar.
All the pressure will be on Silva, and if Bonnar has even a moment of success, he will have exceeded expectations in this fight.
Do I think Bonnar will win? No, I don’t. If I had to bet money, I’d be riding with the greatest fighter in the game today over the guy who once dropped a decision to Mark Coleman’s ghost.
But I think he’s got a shot. And a shot at greatness is all Stephan Bonnar has ever asked for.