UFC

Bonnar primed for his Rocky moment

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A.J. Perez

A.J. Perez previously worked at USA Today, AOL and CBSSports.com, covering beats ranging from performance-enhancing drugs to the NHL. He has also been a finalist for an Associated Press Sports Editors award for investigative reporting. Follow him on Twitter.

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Stephan Bonnar could be the biggest underdog atop a UFC card in the recent history as he faces middleweight champ Anderson Silva in a non-title fight on Saturday.

Not that it matters to the quasi-retired 35-year-old.

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“I couldn’t have wrote it any better,” Bonnar told FOXSports.com. “It’s like a movie. You come out of retirement to fight the best fighter in on the planet in his own backyard. It’s great. It’s crazy. It’s like, ‘Is this really going to happen?’”

Bonnar later described UFC 153 as “Rocky IV,” where Sylvester Stallone’s famed character upsets Russian Ivan Drago in an a non-title fight. Switch Russia for Brazil and shorten it to three rounds, and Bonnar wouldn’t be too far off --- save the fact Rocky may have had better odds to beat the fictional ‘roided-out Drago.

And maybe Rocky and Drago had a little more time to train than either participant. Bonnar was in the second week of helping former pro wrestler Dave Batista train for an MMA bout when he got a text from his manager less than a month ago.

“I had been letting myself go, so I decided to get off my ass and go in into the gym like a normal person,” Bonnar said. “This was for my general health. I hadn’t been to the gym in a while. Thank God I did that and I ended up getting a job with Batista in Tampa.”

Part of the reason for the layoff is that Bonnar wasn’t getting the chances he thought he should have, mainly because he said UFC president Dana White prefers guys who have aspirations to win a belt.

“You just did it for fun, not really for any belts,” said Bonnar, referencing why he got into the sport. “Now, I’m fighting the greatest pound for pound guy who’s been a champion for a long time and it’s not for a belt. And you think if I pull off an upset against Anderson Silva it’s not going to be as sweet because it’s not for a belt? Hell no. I mean, it’s going to be the greatest moment of my life.”

Silva wasn’t expected to fight until next year before the main event of the UFC 153 card disintegrated as UFC featherweight champ Joe Aldo’s opponent, Erik Koch, was forced to withdraw due to injury. Silva agreed to step in, although this will be a three-round fight rather than a typical five rounds for a main card.

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“Every fight’s a fight and no matter three- or five-rounder,” Silva said through an interpreter on a recent conference call with reporters. “I’m training the best that I can to put on a great show. Win or lose I want to put on a great performance for the fans and I don’t know how long it will take to complete this fight. But no matter how long, every UFC fighter should be ready to fight either one, three, four, five rounds, how many rounds it may take.”

Bonnar said even three rounds would be pushing it since the only action he’s seen since a victory via decision against Kyle Kingsbury at UFC 139 last November has been as an analyst on FOX Sports broadcasts.

“I don’t even know if I am in good enough shape to push it like I usually do,” said Bonnar, who had his last two fights go the distance.

With the short notice, Bonnar said there’s not enough time to alter his approach against a fighter that hasn’t lost in more than six years.

“I’m resilient, I take punishment, I keep coming forward and get to people,” Bonnar said. “I am not going to change my fighting style. That’s the only way I know how to fight. Am I going to be in good enough shape to fight my type of fight? All you can do is to train and see.”

There certainly wasn’t enough time to head to a snowy Russian landscape to do pull-ups in barns, carry a log in knee-deep powder, chop wood or shoulder press a cart full of people ala “Rocky IV.” A victory, however, by Bonnar against arguably the best fighter the sport has ever known would at least be non-fiction.

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