(Props: MMA Weekly)
Can’t exactly blame Stephan Bonnar for showing up at the postfight press conference of the “TUF 12” finale this weekend looking like the cat that ate the balding, 6-foot-tall Croatian canary. Something tells me Bonnar isn’t great with secrets, but leading up to his co-main event bout with Igor Pokrajac he did a pretty good job keeping a lid on the fact he wasn’t going to go out there and fight like the same, old swing-for-the-fences “American Psycho” we’ve all come to know, love and worry about. Nope, Bonnar looked every bit the smart and savvy vet in there on Saturday and the result was a unanimous decision win. Weird, huh?
“Everyone expected me to brawl,” says a half proud, half sheepish Bonnar in the above vid. “I knew what I was going to do, but I kind of let on that I was going to brawl. I feel sneaky, I feel surreptitious. It feels good, though. I felt a little guilty out there for not going toe-to-toe but hey, I got the win.”
Indeed. Also, someone should tell Bonnar that it’s not “sneaky” to analyze your opponent’s strengths and weaknesses in order to devise a strategy you think gives you the best chance to win. That’s just called, you know, professional fighting.
“I wanted to fool him, I wanted to mix it up,” Bonnar says. “I didn’t know how it would work out. Who knows, maybe (if) he would have stuffed my takedowns it would have been a toe-to-toe brawl, but I ended up getting the takedowns and felt like I was controlling him on top. After the second round I was like ‘Man, I know I’m ahead.’ Why risk going toe-to-toe and taking chances and risk being all ugly for that WEC show next week? … I thought it was the perfect time to pull a little fast one, pull a little tomfoolery on everyone.”
Consider everyone, including poor Igor Pokrajac, duly fooled. “The Duke” is now 1-3 in the UFC and probably headed for the unemployment line because Bonnar suddenly decided to fight smart. Still, after five years of crazy slugfests, it’d be nice to see the “TUF 1” vet forge a new beginning for himself by taking a slightly different approach. One where he doesn’t get beat all to hell.
“I didn’t feel like I got hit a whole hell of a lot,” he says. “I mean I got those illegal knees off the bottom, but those were probably the best shots (Pokrajac) landed in the fight.”
On the topic of the illegal blows – both guys had points deducted by referee Steve Mazzagatti for uncool strikes – Bonnar says he’s not mad at anybody about it, not even MMA’s most notoriously lax ref.
“I had to tell (Mazzagatti), (Pokrajac) hit me with like three or four (knees on the ground) and I finally I had to say, ‘Steve, that’s four!’ I didn’t really care because I didn’t want to give up my position, but then I felt myself bleeding and then I said something …,” Bonnar says. “I made sure to tell him I was alright because I didn’t want him to stand us up, because I had a good side mount on him. It sucks when you gotta ref your own fight. No hard feelings to Steve, it’s a tough job – reffing — my hat’s off to him.”
Watch the complete vid for more wit and wisdom from Bonnar, including the part where he gives away the secret to his wife’s Thanksgiving stuffing recipe.