Ever since his brawl with Forrest Griffin in the final of Season 1 of “The Ultimate Fighter,” Stephan Bonnar has been known to UFC fans as a striker. He doesn’t ever do much to try and shuck that description, but at the Season 12 finale on Saturday night, he expressed his Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt pedigree.
Bonnar and Igor Pokrajac, a fighter from Team Cro Cop, had their moments of throwing down, but it was Bonnar’s takedowns and ground game that really earned him the nod, that and some solid work in his newfound Muay Thai clinch.
Every round of the fight, Bonnar took Pokrajac to the ground. In round one, the Croatian escaped a tight guillotine choke. Bonnar kept it primarily to a ground and pound assault when they were on the mat in round two. In round three, he showed submission set-ups, but kept control when he couldn’t find the hold he wanted, and continued to pound on Pokrajac.
Pokrajac had a moment in round two where he unloaded on Bonnar, rocking him with punches on the feet and backing him up. But Bonnar showed the resilience that has made him a fan favorite, quickly regaining control.
Even though Bonnar was deducted a point for punching Pokrajac in the back of the head as the fight ended, he still walked away with the unanimous decision victory. He has now won back-to-back fights returning from a three-fight skid.