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Interview: Stephan Bonnar, One of the UFC's Original Ultimate Fighters

Stephan Bonnar was a part of the most important fight in UFC history at The Ultimate Fighter 1 Finale. This weekend he faces Igor Pokrajac in the headlining bout of TUF Season 12 Finale on SpikeTV. Last week I was able to talk to “The American Psycho” about head injuries, his past and future in the UFC and cutting weight around the holidays.

Thanksgiving is in two days and you’re fighting next weekend. Does that effect your weight cut?
Well, the plan is to get shark-baited in the morning – that’s when fresh guys keep coming in every minute or two in the cage – so you burn a lot of calories. Then eat as much celery and carrots as I want and all the turkey I want.

Is it more annoying trying to keep on-weight around the holidays?
Not really because I’m just looking forward to Christmas. For Christmas, man, I’m going to be fat as Hell.

On fight nights, what do you do to keep loose? Or do you try to wind yourself up?
I just try to mentally try to mentally calm everything down and stay relaxed meditate a lot and get a good warmup. Try to get a good roll in stretch and go in there and raise some hell.

What are you expecting from Igor Pokrajac?
I’m expecting a tough guy. You hit him with punches and he won’t feel them. He’s got a good gas tank. He’s got decent power, but I feel like I’ve got him technically in jiu jitsu skills and striking. And I think I’m a better wrestler this time around.

You talked about a drop to middleweight. Is your future still at 205?
Yeah… I tried that a little. I got to like 210, just waling around and there’s just no way. I was going to drop another 25 pounds. 210 isn’t bad, its skinny and my bones are just too big. I couldn’t do it. It sucks. I had to do so much more from there. Why don’t I just want to eat a lot, lift some weights and get up to 230 and cut to 205. It makes you happier eating all the time. Starving yourself, its just miserable.

How much longer do you see yourself fighting?
Yeah, that’s… You know, I’m not Nostradamus or anything. I don’t know when I’m going to get old.  I’m 33 and I feel pretty good. I think at least I have a couple years, but you never know. Who knows if I’m going to be a Benjamin Button/Randy Couture who just doesn’t age? But most guys do. You see it happening with Cro Cop. You see him back when he won the Pride tournament to now – Yeah he’s gotten old. I feel like my striking is getting better. My grappling is getting smoother. I’m getting more techical, but when strength and speed go. I don’t know when that day will come. It comes for everyone. I feel like I have a couple left in me.

With the WEC/UFC merger, what does that mean for you. Is there a future for you as a color guy for the UFC?
I really don’t know yet. All I know is from a business standpoint its good. You can’t develop two brands at the same time. The UFC brand could be bigger, it will be bigger. I’m really confident in that. From a business standpoint I think it was just a matter of time. Just for me personally, all I know is I’m going to call the next WEC in Arizona in December. I’m thankful I get to do that and hopefully they’ll call me for some work in the future.

You’re always going to be a big part of UFC history. Do you take a great deal of pride from that?
Yeah, its good. When it first came out I was in high school and I thought it was the coolest thing in the world. When I got to go on there, I couldn’t believe it. You know, got to be in the UFC and have a great fight and you know, I always thought the UFC was the coolest thing. I do what I can to help them. I put on great fights and do whatever else I can. Color commentary, I’ve got my companyNGAUGE doing merchandising work with the UFC and I’m glad I get to fight.

There’s concern about concussions and head trauma in combat sports and football. Do you give any thought to the punishment you take as a fighter?

Yeah, I mean, you think about it a little bit. Overall, I know right now I’m still pretty acute and I don’t plan on being one of those guys that fights … So I just take it one step at a time and right now I’m pretty confident I’ll be OK. I’ve got some other things I plan on doing. I think overall, just volume-wise, you’ve got more options in MMA. You take some shots, but its not like the amount you take in a boxing match in 12 rounds. And I’ve never been dropped or knocked out. You’ve never even seen me off in a fight. I eat punches pretty well and that helps.

Is there anybody in the UFC you’d love to fight?
I don’t know. I’ve never ever called anyone out. I don’t want to start now. You know, you want to be on the world stage with the marquee name. You want to fight the top dogs like Shogun, Rampage, Machida. Yeah any marquee name that makes me a main event is any fighter’s dream. I don’t mean to call anyone out, but it would be an honor to fight any of those guys.

Finally, here’s Stephan Bonnar’s website and Twitter. A more previewish post will run tomorrow for the entire TUF 12 event.

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