Somebody recently stated that, yes, Stephan Bonnar was indeed just like "Rocky IV." The twist? He strikes an uncanny resemblance to Apollo Creed.
Now that’s just clever.
And it wouldn’t be nearly as funny if that didn’t come closer to the situational feel here. Bonnar is no Balboa, especially the dimwitted version that appears in "Rocky IV," the one who hears Creed talking about eating “snails” instead of “nails.” Though he is headed to face the best pound-for-pound fighter on the planet (Anderson Silva) in his own backyard (Brazil), there are stark differences.
For one, Bonnar is forever in the Spider Rico portion of his career. He never trained in meat lockers, nor licked Apollo Creed the second time around, nor licked Clubber Lang the second time around, nor purchased expensive robots as potential mates for his boozy cornerman.
In fact, he never even licked Forrest Griffin the second time through.
However, Adrian’s words to the “Italian Stallion” in "Rocky IV" ring true for Bonnar -- “you can’t win.” Welcome to UFC 153, live from Rio de Janeiro, where, for Bonnar, the trouble weighs a ton.
Make no mistake: Bonnar is the steak being slid under the door. Silva is the pacing lion in the room. His countrymen are in a frenzy to see their lion eat. The sound of the latch closing them in will sound more like a loud gulp.
Does that make for a fun pay-per-view? Depends on why you watch the fights. There are plenty of people who are giving the 13-to-1 underdog Bonnar his props heading into this mad scene. The only two times he’s been stopped were due to cuts, right? Nobody puts him away otherwise. That’s just for starters. Plenty think he can survive the whole three rounds with Silva, that his chin will withstand all manner of abuse. That’s at least something. Others think he can use his weight advantage and turn himself into a sludge against Silva on the fence. Why not? And there are a scattered few among us who believe Bonnar can take Silva to the ground where, who knows, maybe he Sonnenizes the middleweight champ for as long as it takes.
He did it to Kyle Kingsbury.
In reality, nobody actually thinks he’ll win. These aren’t so much silver linings as there are aluminum ones.
Unfortunately, Bonnar can’t win by throwing hosannas at Silva. He’ll need to beat up a faster, rangier, far more precise opponent. If he has a flying scissor that could set up the heel hook in his arsenal, that would also be helpful. Otherwise, he’ll have to go in there with brawn and Adam’s apple alone and hope that he catches Silva ... with what, a punch? Bonnar isn’t known for his heavy hands. He’ll have to go in there and make it ugly and go for broke. Fluky things would also be welcomed.
But for the UFC and those of us with disposable income, the optimism is that he’s at least competitive. Otherwise, it plays out like the mismatch it always looked like. Bonnar, 5-5 in his past 10 bouts, coming out of quasi-retirement because his Twitter account is overachieving, against Silva, who has never lost in the UFC.
That’s UFC 153 in a nutshell. And UFC 153 is not "Rocky IV." The hope is that it’s closer to the original "Rocky," where our protagonist confessed he only wanted to go the distance with Creed. Problem is, even that feels like a long shot, because Anderson Silva doesn’t abide such romantic notions.