Anderson Silva and Stephan Bonnar faced off at UFC Rio 3 in 2013 – Photo: Getty Images
In conversation with the Las Vegas Direct Combat (USA), Bonnar recalled how he was called to help save the event, and revealed that he was practically retired, and thought he would never fight again. At the time of the call, he was with friends on a boat, fishing for lobsters in Tampa, Florida.
– Anderson had just defended his belt against Chael Sonnen a second time, and it was a smooth fight for him. He suffered no damage as in the first fight. At the time, I was working at the UFC, I had a bureaucratic job, I had health insurance and a salary, and I had taken a step back in my career as a fighter and became an employee. When I was offered the fight, I was on vacation in Tampa, Florida, for a few weeks to help Dave Bautista, who is now a Hollywood actor in the WWE. At the time, he had fought an MMA fight, and I hadn’t fought in a while, I wasn’t even training seriously. He was a UFC employee and thought he was retired. I was still working out, and I didn’t want to go to pro wrestling. After two weeks of training in Tampa, I was with some friends on a boat, fishing for lobsters. Suddenly I got a call from the UFC offering me the fight against Anderson Silva. It was crazy. I will never forget that. “I serious?” How does such a thing happen? I thought José Aldo would do the main fight.
The ex-fighter said he was paralyzed when he heard from Dana White the offer to do the main fight of UFC Rio 3 against Anderson Silva. For him, there was no way to refuse.
– But Dana told me on the phone that Aldo had been hurt and they would have to cancel the event, which would cost millions of dollars. They offered Anderson several names, and he chose mine. My manager was in Las Vegas pressing for me to be chosen, and I, on the boat, didn’t know anything. When my name was chosen, I got the call and was paralyzed. It was literally the last thing that would cross my mind at that moment. I was very surprised, and how can I say no to something like that? In my head, I was completely out of the fight scene, really retired. I knew I was at the end of my career, and my body was physically falling apart. I didn’t come from a streak of three or five wins, and I wanted a big name to make one last fight.
With the aim of, at best, getting a good fight to hang the gloves permanently, Bonnar saw his desire materialize after Dana White refused to give him one last fight against a big name a few months earlier.
Anderson Silva knocked out Stephan Bonnar in the first round at UFC Rio 3 – Photo: Getty Images
– I didn’t look for the belt anymore. I just wanted to say goodbye gloriously in one last big fight. But Dana didn’t think so. He had talked to me some time before and told me that such a fight would not happen. You are not going to be a TUF coach to later get the belt or retire. So I said that I just wanted to retire in a big fight, but he didn’t agree and asked me to work with them. I accepted. From then on, my head was no longer focused on fighting. But suddenly, that connection came, and it was everything I had dreamed of. A huge fight for me to retire. I couldn’t say no. If I declined, the entire card would be canceled. I had stopped fighting, I was retired, but it was a main fight against Anderson Silva in Brazil. I accepted.
The American recalled the climate in the city for the fight, and said that the open training sessions, which were held in Arcos da Lapa, in Rio de Janeiro, under a sun of over 40 degrees did not bother him, since he lives in Las Vegas, which is in the middle of the Nevada desert.
– I was there with Sérgio Penha. He took me to Rio, and it was really cool. I had gone to Brazil in 2003 to fight Lyoto Machida and I went to Carlson Gracie’s old academy and met him. It was very nice to go to Rio. There was a great rivalry between the two academies, Oswaldo Alves and Carlson Gracie. I have been to both, and they are not as modest as American academies. But it was good to get an idea of the culture of fights in Brazil and meet so many legends of jiu-jitsu and coaches together with Sérgio. What I remember about the open training was that there was not much pressure on me. I was enjoying myself most of the time. But I heard some cries of “Uh, you’re going to die!”, But I responded well too (laughs). It was fun. It wasn’t as hot as they said. I live in Las Vegas, I’m used to it. There was plenty of space, and I was able to reinforce my tan (laughs). I was facing Anderson Silva in Rio. It was amazing to see him on billboards and posters at bus stops all over the city. I had to cut weight, but I went around the city to try some local foods. Was good. I went to the beach in shorts, and I felt like a fish out of water, because everyone wore swim trunks, except me.
Talking about the fight, Bonnar remembers feeling nervous and flustered at first, but he felt that, little by little, he was more comfortable in front of Spider.
++ The last web: Remember Spider’s career
– I reviewed the fight. I came in tense, flustered, because I was very nervous, and I knew it. I couldn’t let him feel comfortable, and I wanted to vent that nervousness in the fight and enter a safe zone for me. When we entered the clinch, I took a few short strokes and tried to knock him down, but I got lost a little. I remember thinking, “His best hit is the right hook”. It worked well when he used it on the counter, as he did against Chael and Okami. He hit me with one of them, and I wasn’t that bad. I looked at the screen and it was 30s to the end of the first round. And I thought, “It’s cool …”
Stephan Bonnar tried to face Anderson Silva standing at UFC Rio 3 – Photo: Getty Images
According to him, there was an attempt to take the fight to the ground, but the idea of losing the round if it fell from below made him give up and start to keep the fight on his feet. And that, in your opinion, was your mistake.
– I could continue at that pace for a few more rounds and give Anderson a good fight. But I thought he had some kind of secret weapon against me. I tried to get him to the floor again. It was a good idea to be with him on the floor, even underneath. It would work, because I could tire you out a little. But then I thought I could lose the round, because he was very disputed. If I finished the round from the bottom, I could lose it, and if I stood up I could hit a few strokes and win the round. That was my big mistake. When I decided to fight standing up, he pushed me to the grid, I hit and came back and he used that momentum to give even more strength to the knee. I saw the knee coming, but it came in between my elbows. There, no matter how hard you are, when the blow is accurate, you fall into a fetal position. I remember, when I was down, that he hit my head, and I dropped my arms. “Thank God he’s hitting my head, because I don’t want him to hit my body again.” And that was it. The fight is over.
Anderson Silva celebrates victory over Stephan Bonnar at UFC Rio 3 – Photo: Getty Images
According to the American, Anderson Silva has the power to manipulate his opponents so that they feel comfortable during the fights, and open loopholes for him to liquidate them. According to Bonnar, no one has ever hit him so hard, to the point of incapacitating him to continue in a fight the way Anderson Silva did.
– That’s how I can describe it. Anderson manipulates you, makes you think that the fight will not be bad for you, and you relax a little. It was like that with me, and he found the loophole. The guy is one of the greatest of all time. I was in there with him, exchanged blows, shared the cage. I’ve fought with more than 30 guys, including seven world champions, and no one had stopped me. In the fight against Machida I wanted to continue, but they stopped the fight because of a deep cut. They said I couldn’t go on. Except that, no one had hit me as hard in my entire career as Anderson. He was the only one who left me really incapacitated to continue a fight. I take my hat off to him.
For Bonnar, Anderson is a fighter who needs to have his fights appreciated regardless of the result. Even though he is at an advanced age (45 years) for high level MMA, the Brazilian has the quality to perform well. The American also recalls that, if today he has been defeated, at 30 he was not even touched by his opponents.
– Anderson was always very fast. The fast guys can fight until later, because when they get old they slow down, and start to have a normal speed. He’s 45 years old. Remember the fight against Daniel Cormier. He fought very well. People don’t know how to appreciate that kind of thing. Cormier had been a heavyweight champion. Anderson was a ninja in that fight. Anyone who dominates the world for as long as he has to be in the group of the greatest of all time. Today he is over 40, and people see him as a crown. But at 30, no one could even touch it. And they only succeeded when he got older. This is something worth saying about Anderson Silva.
O Combat shows the entire card of “UFC Hall x Silva” live and exclusively this coming Saturday, with the “Combat Warming” starting at 4:30 pm (Brasília time), and the start of fights starting at 5:00 pm. O Combate.com it’s the SporTV 3 show the first two fights live, and the site follows the entire event in real time.
UFC Hall x Silva
October 31, 2020 in Las Vegas (USA)
MAIN CARD (8:00 pm EST):
Middleweight: Uriah Hall vs. Anderson Silva
Peso-pena: Bryce Mitchell x Andre Fili
Middleweight: Kevin Holland vs. Charlie Ontiveros
Heavyweight: Maurice Greene vs. Greg Hardy
Lightweight: Bobby Green x Thiago Moses
PRELIMINARY CARD (5:00 pm EST):
Peso-leve: Chris Gruetzemacher x Alexander Hernandez
Peso-galo: Adrian Yanez x Victor Rodriguez
Middleweight: Sean Strickland vs. Jack Marshman
Middleweight: Cole Williams vs. Jason Witt
Heavyweight: Dustin Jacoby vs. Justin Ledet
Flyweight: Cortney Casey x Priscila Pedrita
Gallic Weight: Miles Johns x Kevin Natividad
UFC Hall x Silva: the legend Spider is back live and exclusive in Combat!
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