I caught up with Stephan Bonnar for a feature I’m penning for MMA Worldwide. It gave me a chance to ask him his take on Mark Coleman’s loss to Randy Couture at UFC 109. It was Bonnar who Coleman unexpectedly defeated at UFC 100 that helped pave the way for a main event bout against The Natural last Saturday.
Unfortunately, the UFC’s first heavyweight champion and the father of “ground and pound” was a shell of his old self before he choked out in Round 2.
“Yeah, it didn’t look like he tried too hard,” Bonnar said. “He’s been fighting for a long time and that’s the only fight I’ve seen in which he didn’t attempt a takedown. I think he was kind of beat before he entered the ring. He kind of conceded like he’ll get paid but won’t win this one.”
As expected, Coleman was released from the UFC today. Cory Brady was the first to report it and Jonathan Snowden – author of the fantastic reference book "Total MMA" – cited a source that said UFC officials felt, in good conscience, they couldn't let Coleman fight again and “we were looking at a potential death in the Octagon.”
Bonnar hesitated to suggest that Coleman is finished and believes there could be a chance to at least go out with his head held high if the right opportunity presented itself.
“If you give him a good matchup against someone he can probably take down and ride out, I think he could win,” Bonnar said. “I’m not one to say he should retire.”
Bonnar is facing one of those infamous “must-win” fights at UFC 110 in Sydney, Australia a week from Saturday when he takes on fellow Ultimate Fighter alum Krzysztof Soszynski. The American Psycho is down in history for his epic contest against Forrest Griffin at the first Ultimate Finale that represented MMA’s breakthrough into the mainstream and helped secure Bonnar a UFC contract despite losing a close decision.
However, Bonnar’s lost four out of his last six fights, including a rematch against Griffin. From Brock Larson to Jake Roshalt to most recently Phillipe Nover and others, the UFC has cut loose fighters who have hit a wall, but Bonnar has been competitive in every one of his bouts. Out of his six MMA defeats, only one has failed to reach the judges, a 2003 bout in Brazil against a young fighter fighting in his homeland named Lyoto Machida. He’s also one of just two of Jon Jones’ 10 opponents (Andre Gusmao) to take “Bones” to a full three rounds.
“Even during my losses I fought my ass off until the very end,” Bonnar said. “If it were for five dollars in a backyard, I’m going to fight to the death. I don’t care what kind of fight it is. To me it’s always the most important. It’s everything and I’m going to fight that way. If I won my last two it’d still be in my mind a fight to the death.”
Soszynski had won his last three UFC bouts, including a submission win over Shane Primm at The Ultimate Finale 8, and five straight until dropping a unanimous decision to Brandon Vera at UFC 102. Unless Bonnar destroys him, Soszynski probably has some shelf life in Zuffa, but a defeat in Sydney would put him on shaky ground.
“He’s bald, covered in tattoos and ugly,” said Bonnar, laughing. “He’s a seasoned veteran, pretty well-rounded and physically he’s strong. I just have to make him fight, put the pressure on him and beat his ass. It’s that simple.”