Stephan Bonnar seems as close to retirement as possible, hinting at the possibility on Fuel TV.
Bonnar has had a long career in the UFC and, with his famous first fight against Forrest Griffin, the member of the original season of The Ultimate Fighter has become a pioneer in the sport of MMA.
That first fight with Griffin helped build the sport into what it is today, when the idea of MMA becoming a mainstream fixture was nothing more than wishful thinking. That famous fight was seven years ago, and now we’re here talking about Bonnar’s possible retirement.
Bonnar wants one last marquee fight, and that most likely won’t come. He simply isn’t high enough in the rankings and his opponent probably wouldn’t earn anything from a possible fight with Bonnar. Meanwhile, Bonnar doesn’t want to fight the young up-and-comers, and rightfully so. Nobody wants to be a stepping stone.
When Bonnar pushed for him and Griffin to coach this next season of The Ultimate Fighter, I was as pumped as anybody to see the two guys who started it all return to coach head-to-head. I thought that was perfect for the both of them, and that Bonnar could retire after that fight. It would have been the perfect ending to his story.
After all, Bonnar isn’t facing top guys anymore. Looking at his last five fights, he hasn’t fought a top-ten, or even possibly a top-15, fighter. The last time he fought a top-tier opponent was when he met Jon Jones, and that was a fight that helped provide a launching pad for the legacy of the now UFC light heavyweight champion.
However, Bonnar’s last fight, against Kyle Kingsbury, wasn’t something to leave on. Fans booed Bonnar, something most people thought would never happen. But there really isn’t any reason left for him to keep going considering what awaits him outside the Octagon.
So that’s why Bonnar should just retire and fade into his role as an analyst or commentator in the sport. There really isn’t anything left for Bonnar in fighting. Without the marquee name willing to fight him and his own unwillingness to fight up-and-comers, he won’t get a title shot. Why stick around and get beat up when you have a nice comfortable job as an analyst for UFC events? He will be making the money to analyze while not risking injury.
It seems pointless at age 35—with a nice cushy job up on set breaking down the sport you love—to continue to put yourself in harm’s way for probably the same amount of pay. Bonnar is a good analyst, and it simply just isn’t his time inside the cage anymore.
The only thing that should keep him in the sport is his own suggested idea of coaching alongside Griffin on TUF. Anything outside of that, though, and Bonnar should just call it a career with nothing left to prove. It’s time for him to enjoy fights from the comfort of the broadcast booth.
Photo: Stephan Bonnar (Daniel Herbertson/Sherdog)