Very rarely in life does a great opportunity come along, even if it is a long shot opportunity like me fighting the best fighter in the world, Anderson Silva, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, this Saturday night.
Getting the biggest shot of my career, when I had sort of retired, is kinda the story of my life. I’ve never really had the best of luck in my career. I’ve fought some of the very best guys in the world – like Rashad Evans and Jon Jones – before they had proved themselves to be the best in the world.
I never quite got the big fight with the big name. I’m kinda the bad luck kid in that respect. Every once in a while a great opportunity comes along and I take advantage of it. I did that with Season 1 of the Ultimate Fighter, where I got into the UFC, but fighting Anderson is the biggest opportunity to ever come my way. Main eventing a pay-per-view against the pound-for-pound best fighter in the sport, kinda tops even TUF I’d say.
I had sort of retired in my own mind. I said so in a couple of interviews although I never really said “that is it, I am done”. But I was getting offered fights with guys like Alexander Gustafsson, who is a super-talented guy but right now no one really knows how good he is outside the hardcore fans. I didn’t want to be a steppingstone or a gate-keeper to these young guys trying to make a name for themselves. I wanted to make my name bigger, and I wanted the big main event fight I never got yet. Then I got a text from my manager saying would I fight Anderson Silva in the main event of UFC 152. I laughed and thought “Good luck pulling that joke off.” But then I got a call and it was really there for me. It was amazing.
This is like the culmination of it all. I really think it’s all meant to be; it’s perfect that I finally get a huge fight, the kind of fight I always wanted but never landed. It really feels like all the stars are aligning just like it did on that magical night for the UFC back in 2005 when I fought Forrest Griffin for the first time.
I know the odds are stacked against me and no one’s giving me a chance. I kind of like it that way. It’s no pressure on me. I just have to show up and fight. I know what I can do and I’m not fixed on the outcome, I’m fixed on getting in there and fighting to the best of my ability, giving Anderson Silva hell, and if I do that – and I am capable of doing that – then I have a shot at shocking the whole world.
I’m going in there to fight him, not to just go in there and think it was cool to share an Octagon with Anderson Silva. I’m going to give everything, fight my heart out, like I did in the fight with Forrest that changed the sport. That’s what I bring to the cage that Anderson maybe hasn’t seen too many times in his career. I’ve got to give him a fight, I’m got to get him on the back foot, rough him up, that’s what I’m going to do.
Anderson is so good. He’s got all those strikes, slick submissions, the trips he does, the feints, and I had a month to get ready for all of that. So what I did isn’t prepare for Anderson but prepare to go to war. I’m durable, tough and gritty and I’ve always given 100 percent in a fight.
And, hey, Anderson hadn’t had time to prepare for me at 205 lbs. either. Maybe he’s not in the very best of shape, maybe he couldn’t prepare like he could for the Chael Sonnen fight this summer.
I’ve been hit by bigger, stronger guys and never been stopped. I mean, look at every fight I’ve ever had – I’ve been hit with lots of big shots but I get up and keep coming. I think I will give Anderson hell.
Follow me on @StephanBonnar. UFC 153: SILVA vs. BONNAR will be live on Yahoo! Sports pay-per-view this Saturday night at 10 ET.