Pre Fight Interview: UFC 73 Fighter, Stephan BonnarDenis Martins: You have not fought in the UFC since August of 2006. How are you feeling about this long way return?
Stephan Bonnar: I feel good. I am healthy and anxious to fight.
DM: What about the injuries? Are them all 100% healed?
SB: I had my elbow surgery in April. It feels good now. The hand surgery I had done right after my last fight. It is good too. After the surgery you are never 100%, they are about 99%.
DM: You spent a time in Thailand. What can you relate to us about this experience?
SB: To simplify things, I just was there to learn real Muay Thai. Over the years, I have trained mainly in Wrestling, Tae Kwon Do, Jiu-Jitsu and Boxing. I needed to learn some real Tuay Thai; from the Thai’s in Thailand.
DM: Are you going to show us new techniques in UFC learned in Thailand?
SB: You will be able to see the difference in my kicks for sure.
DM: How is your training in the USA going now? Who are your main teammates?
SB: Main teammates are guys I train with at Jabb Boxing Gym (Mike Mollo). I work my Jiu-Jitsu and Wrestling at Jay Valko BJJ (a student of Carlson Gracie) with Jay, Mike, Jason, Chad and Mark. I also still go to Miguel Torres Martial Arts to train with Miguel and his guys. We usually do MMA style sparring. Finally, I make it to Milwaukee twice a week to train my Muay Thai with Duke Roufus.
DM: Is there still a Carlson Gracie Team USA? Or is this totally dismantled?
SB: Miguel Torres, myself, and Mark Allen were Carlson Gracie Senior’s Vale-Tudo guys. I still train with both of them. Carlson Senior ran Vale-Tudo training, where as Carlson Junior teaches mainly sport Jiu-Jitsu.
DM: A lot of changes happened in UFC since you fought last time. What more impressed you? I meant what do you expect from you category from now on?
SB: It made me realize that anyone can be beat on any given day. Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic and George St. Pierre losing surprised me of course. You have to be 100% ready mentally and physically for every opponent. Even Carlson always said no matter who you are fighting, you train as if you are fighting the best fighter in the world. I like to think of Wanderlei Silva as a good example of this because he goes into every fight with 100% determination and focus.
DM: Do you think Rashad Evans or Lyoto Machida, two guys who you fought, can be contenders of the weight division soon?
SB: Yes. I think both, Rashad and Lytoto, are already contenders. They are both undefeated and have wins over some good fighters.
DM: Do you believe that Rashad can beat Tito at same event you are fighting?
SB: I definitely think that Rashad could beat Tito. I think this fight will come down to who can take the other opponent down. If Tito can not take Rashad down, I do not think he will win.
DM: Your way to a title contender is long now- you have two defeats on the road (Evans UFN 5 and Griffin UFC 62). The beginning of back to the track is the victory over Mick Nickels at your up and coming match. So are you going full of responsibility on this to this combat?
SB: I am definitely going into this fight with only 1 thing on my mind. That will be to destroy. It is that simple.
DM: What do you know and expect from Nickels?
SB: He is more of a submission guy. His Wrestling is not that strong, so I expect him to try to strike with me first.
DM: Bonnar, how do you compare your last performance to the next one? I meant in which points did you improve?
SB: I mentally was weak for my last fight. Going through training camp with a broken arm made training no fun. I was not enjoying it. Every day I was in severe pain training with a broken arm. And then, a week before the fight I was cut over my left eye and needed 10 stitches. So going into the fight my mind was not on hurting my opponent. It was on protecting my cut and not showing him my arm was hurt. Finally, I shattered my right hand early in the fight. Instead of being focused on trying to take my opponent out, I was just moving around, engaging a little and surviving. This fight I feel good physically, which makes it easier to feel strong mentally. My focus is on hurting my opponent and taking him out.
DM: Thanks for your time, would you like to add anything else?
SB: ‘Obrigado’ Denis.