Sports Radio 740 Between the Ropes
UFC superstar and star of the first season of The Ultimate Fighter Stephan Bonnar joined the radio show “Between The Ropes” on Central Florida’s Sports Radio 740 The Team to discuss his fight with James Irvin on Spike TV’s Ultimate Fight Night this Monday night.

Stephan started off talking about his fight on Monday on Spike TV with James Irvin. He just wrapped up his intense training on Wednesday night and planned to take the next four days to recover and prepare. He said the Irvin flying knee probably won’t be a problem since he’s taller and doesn’t shoot from the outside. But Irvin has a heavy right hand and can be dangerous.

“I talked to Chris Leben the other night and we’re actually in the same boat. He’s fighting Jorge Rivera. We’re both guys who like to stand up and throw down, but we both feel we’re better than our opponents on the ground. So I kind of like it. I’m really not worried about anything. I can let my hands and my feet go. I’m not worried about him taking me down because I like it on the ground. He’s going to be worried about me taking him down. If the opportunity is there, I’ll do it. If not, I’ll just pull out and trade more. So I feel pretty good going into it.”

Stephan said his broken hand is doing fine now. He said the injury didn’t hinder his training much since he was able to do most everything with the cast. He was ready to fight back on November 19, but UFC wanted to save it for Spike TV.

Bonnar got into martial arts at age 10 with wrestling. He started tae kwan do at age 12. He got into jiu-jitsu after seeing the early UFC events. He noted the tae kwan do is more useful than he thought it would be, particularly mixing it with boxing to surprise an opponent with a spinning back kick or the like.

Asked if there are greater expectations on him coming off the notoriety of The Ultimate Fighter reality series, Bonnar said every fight is do or die for him and every fight is the most important. He said he always hears from people about the classic fight with Forest Griffin when he goes out and it’s usually good for a free drink. He said he’s not worried about having to live up to the expectations of the first fight with Griffin if there was a rematch. He believes their styles mesh well enough to produce a good fight every time.

Bonnar discussed his training, particularly in the Chicago/Indiana region where he’s from. Since he’s not affiliated with any specific team, he’s more of a lone soldier. He goes to the jiu-jitsu school to work on his ground, but no one there can help him work on his stand up. So he has to move on Windy City Boxing to train in stand up. He goes from gym to gym that specialize in different fighting styles throughout the region.

Asked how he would describe his fighting style, he said he’s pretty much a hybrid. He prefers to throw down, but he also enjoys grappling and submissions. For him, the fun is throwing spin kicks and landing good punches.

Bonnar was asked who he would like to face if he can get past Irvin on Monday. “I’m no dummy so I know my chances with [Chuck] Liddell get better with his age so I’m in no hurry with that. But I would like to beat Irvin and to fight a big name would be nice, like a [Ken] Shamrock or a Vitor Belfort. To get a big name like that to fight that would be a honor. I’ve been idolizing those guys since I was like 19. I remember watching Vitor Belfort bust on the scene when I was in college at Purdue at 19 years old. I was like, ‘Holy crap, this dude is awesome.’ It’s just amazing that I could actually fight him now. It’s funny, he’s a veteran of the sport. He’s been doing it since then. And I’m kind of a rookie but we’re about the same age.”

Bonnar said he’s a fight junkie and watches tapes of any MMA he can find. He used to watch a lot of NBA and NFL, but now it’s mostly fighting. He recently watched some K-1 World Max DVD’s and loved them. He never misses a PRIDE event and loves to watch ESPN Classic Boxing.

Asked what he thought of the ‘kiss of death’ involving Heath Herring at the PRIDE New Year’s Eve show, “I don’t blame Heath Herring at all. That’s just something you don’t do. You don’t kiss your opponent before the fight. He was asking for it. If you’re going to kiss your opponent on the lips like that, you better have both hands up by your chin.”

Bonnar ended by discussing his training regimen before Monday night’s fight. He’s been training a lot lately with a lot of sparring to get his wind up. He trained every day last week with a couple of two-a-day’s and Sunday off. He continued Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday of this week. From that point on, it’s mainly preparation, resting, and stretching for four days to allow his body to recover for Monday night.

To listen to the Stephan Bonnar interview, including some interesting stories of instigating fights back in school with special ed kids and more UFC thoughts, and the entire January 11 edition of Between The Ropes in streaming audio, visit the show online at http://www.BetweenTheRopes.com. Join us for Between The Ropes for two hours every Wednesday night at 10:00pm ET on Central Florida’s Sports Radio 740 The Team and worldwide on BetweenTheRopes.com.