Bellator MMA returns to San Diego with a blockbuster card on Nov. 15. The Headliner features the highly anticipated grudge match between Tito Ortiz vs Stephan Bonner. Also on the card is a lightweight title fight between Michael Chandler and Will Brooks. MP reporter Art Garcia Jr. caught up with Bonnar recently to ask him about his much-publicized criticism of Ortiz and why he came out of retirement for this bout.
AG: Thoughts on the upcoming fight with Tito?
SB: I’m feeling alright I must say … I’m ready to go!
AG: There’s been a lot of animosity between you two, how do you think it might affect the fight?
SB: Yeah, I’m just going to go in there and raise some hell, bring the chaos and make it exciting.
AG: Every fighter’s goal is to win every fight, but throughout your career it seems as though you care about putting on a good show for the fans as well as winning – like making sure they get their money’s worth, correct?
SB: I do, yes. I want to put on a show; I want to be entertaining; I want it to be a memorable fight for the fans. I’m really insecure so that’s probably where it stems from.
AG: Really – you put on one of the best, if not the best, UFC fights of all-time. You are also in the UFC Hall of Fame and you are well-respected for your toughness – why are you so insecure?
SB: Oh boy, let’s not get into my childhood, just trust me. I mean I care, I care – it’s not just about getting the ‘W’ – it’s about putting on a show and making it a helluva fight.
AG: You’re known as the American Psycho, where did you get that nickname?
SB: Season 1 of The Ultimate Fighter we all gave each other nicknames. Like (Chris) Leben would get drunk and tell us how he would smash cats and throw heaters so we started calling him the ‘Cat Smasher;’ the weird Canadian guy we called him ‘Strange Brew.’ They actually called me ‘Ivy League,’ but after a week of sparring with me and hearing some of my crazy stories Chris Sanford made up ‘American Psycho’ and it stuck.
AG: So what’s up between you and Tito, why so much animosity?
SB: I’ve never really cared for the guy and I know a lot of people that he burnt and screwed over. The guy has made millions and millions of dollars over his career and he screws people over, he doesn’t pay people. People like managers who used to help him big contracts back in the UFC; sparring partners who leave their families and come train with him for a couple of months he shorts them and stiffs them; or getting comped bottles (of alcohol) at clubs and charging his friends and making a profit off of it – just things like that where I feel like I’m serving justice for this fight, like I’m karma for those people he screwed over.
AG: You’re 37 right now, how much longer do you want to continue to fight?
SB: You know, not too much longer … that’s the thing – I was happily retired when I got this offer and (since) I really didn’t like the guy, but it’s like my dream fight (I signed on). I don’t know, I’m just right at that age where I can still do it (fight) and in a couple of more years I probably won’t be able to.
AG: What do you attribute your fighting style to?
SB: Probably just having big balls and going for it – taking punches and pushing forward. I’m good at that.
AG: Is MMA tougher mentally or physically on a fighter?
SB: Oh I don’t know — it’s a little bit of everything. It’s tough in there and sometimes things don’t go your way in and you can’t just get discouraged. I’ve had fights with several cuts that required stitches or a couple in my head that they’ve glued, but still, that’s discouraging in a fight but I bit down on my mouthpiece and came back and won. And that’s kind of what you have to do in there (the cage).
AG: What is the greatest thing about being a mixed martial artist?
SB: I don’t know … I’ve always been just a martial artist; I’ve always loved the martial arts. It’s like the culmination of all those years of hard work in training in the martial arts. I get to go in there and it’s like you have complete freedom – you have freedom to do whatever you want in there and that’s the beauty of it.
AG: Tito says you don’t really deserve to be in the UFC Hall of Fame because you’ve never held a belt as a champion. He also says you were selected just because of your fight with Forrest Griffin in The Ultimate Fighter season one final – reaction?
SB: Whatever, I didn’t put myself in there. I didn’t campaign and like ‘please put me in there because I deserve it.’ No, they decided to put me in there because that fight just changed the sport overnight – it had a big impact on it (UFC’s popularity). That’s why they put me in there and I know that. I just went in there and fought that night and did my best. It had nothing to do with getting in the Hall of Fame so I guess he’s entitled.
AG: How about a prediction for the fight?
SB: Like I said, I’m just going to go in there, raise some hell and bring the chaos!