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LAS VEGAS – Andrea Bonnar laughs nervously as she thinks of the correct word to describe what she expects her emotions will be on the night of Oct. 13.
Her husband, Stephan Bonnar, will fight Anderson Silva before more than 18,000 rabid Brazilians that night in Rio de Janeiro in the main event of UFC 153.
Her younger sister, Cassandra Brown, will be getting married that day in the Bahamas.
And Andrea Bonnar, herself, will be in the 38th week of her pregnancy. There is a very real chance that while her husband is fighting the greatest mixed martial arts fighter of all-time and her sister is in a vacation paradise with the rest of the family tying the knot, she'll be alone in her Las Vegas home hoping her first child doesn't decide it's time.
"I'm terrified [the baby will come that night]," she said. "I'm scared to death to have the baby, period, let alone without him being here with me."
Andrea Bonnar isn't due until Oct. 30, but was told by her doctor that the child could arrive anywhere between the 38th and 41st weeks.
The timing meant she'd have to miss her sister's wedding, which was a downer, but at least she'd have her husband with her.
On the night of Sept. 12, that all changed.
Stephan Bonnar was in Tampa, Fla., helping ex-WWE wrestler Dave Bautista prepare for his mixed martial arts debut.
Bonnar had decided to retire after 11 years as a professional fighter. He'd had a good career and had nothing to be ashamed of, but never got a title shot. In 2005, he'd narrowly lost what UFC president Dana White still calls the most important fight in UFC history, dropping a decision to Forrest Griffin in the finale of "The Ultimate Fighter."
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That fight was so entertaining, so riveting, so action-packed, that it led White and UFC CEO Lorenzo Fertitta to cancel plans to sell the company. Ratings for the show went up at each interval, White said, as people were getting on the phone and urging their friends to tune in to watch it.
The bout helped Bonnar immeasurably and landed him a job-for-life with the UFC, but in many ways, it remained his career highlight.
He fought many of the sport's biggest names – Griffin, Lyoto Machida, Rashad Evans, Jon Jones and Mark Coleman – but either before they became well-known or long after their careers were on the downswing.
He had pleaded with White for a big fight, to no avail. With nothing on the horizon, Bonnar decided it was time to retire. He would leave with a 15-7 MMA record and an 8-6 UFC mark, including a three-fight winning streak.
While he was training Bautista, his manager called, offering him a spot on the UFC 153 card.
It wasn't to fight Silva, though. Quinton "Rampage" Jackson had gotten hurt and the UFC needed an opponent for rising star Glover Teixeira. It didn't take long for Bonnar to say no.
"He's a tough, tough, guy, but nobody knows him," Bonnar said of Teixeira. "Those are exactly the fights I don't want at this point of my life. I've had those before. Who ever heard of Jon Jones before I fought him, but now look at the guy. He's one of the best fighters there is, just an awesome fighter. But when I fought him, he was a guy no one had heard of.
"I've been [fighting] for 11 years. I can't even tell you how many bones I've broken and how many surgeries I've had doing this. I didn't have much interest in fighting a young, hungry guy with a short training camp when there wasn't a lot of money involved in it."
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So Bonnar declined and White picked up the search for another opponent for Teixeira. He ultimately settled on Fabio Maldonado.
Later that day, Bonnar received yet another text message from his manager.
This one, though, totally changed things.
Would you, his manager asked, be willing to fight middleweight champion Anderson Silva in the main event of UFC 153?
He couldn't contain himself. Before he could say yes, he first had to compose himself.
"I laughed and was like, 'Yeah, right. Good luck pulling that one off, buddy,' " Bonnar said.
The offer, though, was entirely serious. A foot that Jose Aldo Jr. injured when his motorcycle was hit by a car wasn't healing quickly enough to allow him to defend his featherweight title against Frankie Edgar in the card's main event.
Silva offered to step up to save the card, but said he didn't have enough time to make the middleweight limit of 185 pounds. He told White he'd fight a non-title match at 205 if White wanted.
"When the greatest fighter who ever lived tells you he's willing to step up and save a show, it doesn't take long to say yes," White said.
That changed things significantly for Bonnar.
"I had been begging for this kind of a fight, but nothing was happening, which is why I was retiring," Bonnar said. "But if you're offering me a fight with a guy with that kind of popularity – What does Anderson have, something like 2.5 million Twitter followers? – of course I'm taking that fight."
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The problem, though, was dealing with the very real issues going on at home. Andrea Bonnar desperately wanted her husband to be with her, not only to support her on the night of their son's birth, but also to do the things that first-time parents do together: Attend child birth classes, shop for baby furniture, buy baby clothes.
When Bonnar got the offer to fly to Tampa to train Bautista, it meant missing some of the child birth classes.
"He was supposed to be gone for two weeks," Andrea Bonnar said. "I told him, 'OK, we'll cancel the child birth classes,' but when you come back, you're going to do nothing but buy cribs and paint nurseries and make sacrifices and rub my feet and all that good stuff.' "
When Stephan called Andrea, he told her about the offer to fight Teixeira. Both of them agreed that it didn't make sense and he should say no.
But then he asked her, " 'What about fighting Anderson?' "
Andrea had the same reaction he'd had.
"I told him, 'Oh yeah, right. Sure. Anderson Silva,' " she said. "I said, if you can get that fight, yeah, take it, but there was no way that was going to happen."
But then it did. And they agreed he should accept, even though they knew the possibility existed the baby could come while he was fighting.
White offered Bonnar a seat on his private plane. As soon as the fight ends that night, Bonnar will hop onto White's jet and fly directly back to Las Vegas. There will be no long delays waiting for a connection as would have been the case had they flown commercial.
Bonnar said he'll ask his wife to stay up late the night before, so she'll be very sleepy on Saturday night as he prepares to fight Silva. He also urged her to stay off the Internet.
He knows she'll be desperate to know what happened, and told her he'd call when it was over.
She said if she goes into labor early, she'll let White know, as well as Bonnar's coaches. She said she'll plead with them not to tell him until after the fight.
"The thing I don't want is him getting into the ring with Anderson Silva thinking about me," she said.
But the fight with Silva, the opportunity to headline a major card against a recognizable name, is why he's undergone at least 10 surgeries related to his fight career and why he's sacrificed so much.
He opened a 13-1 underdog and is being given virtually no chance by anybody. None of that matters, though, to Bonnar, who is getting the only thing he ever wanted.
"I wanted a chance, and now I'm getting it," he said. "How could I possibly say no to that? When you think about it, I'm doing it for the baby, and for my family. I've gone through so much, and now, just as I was ready to kind of fade away, this chance comes.
"Everything with her body … is usually punctual, so hopefully, the baby doesn't come until he's due. But I had to take this. An opportunity like this hadn't come for 11 years and if I said no, I might have retired never having gotten it. It was a no-brainer to say yes, obviously."
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