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The highly anticipated Stephan Bonnar/Forrest Griffin rematch, which took place at UFC 62 on August 26, again showed the kind of intensity one might expect to be generated by two young fighters looking to establish their names in the industry. Although not as spectacular as the first fight as far as non-stop, fight-for-survival action was concerned, Bonnar/Griffin two did go the distance, leaving both fighters exhausted and the fans sufficiently entertained.
Again the fight went to Griffin, although Bonnar did appear to have the edge at certain stages. Prior to the fight Bonnar told me he would throw everything he had, with a view to taking out Griffin early. Unfortunately a hand injury sustained early in the fight put his chances of fulfilling this particular prophecy very low.
He will now take some time out to recover before making his way back to the Octagon. Can we expect to see a third fight between these two rising stars? Bonnar says he would love to get back in there and show what he has: "I would like to get a crack at him and fight him the way I intended to."
A third fight would certainly be a major drawcard as both fighters are tremendously talented and exciting to watch. I spoke to Stephan recently and he explained his thoughts on the Griffin re-match and what the future holds for him as an MMA fighter.
[ Q ] Hi Stephan. How do you feel your second fight with Forrest Griffin at UFC 62 went?
Not how I would have liked it to. I was running a lot, and about 45 seconds into the fight I shattered my first metacarpal. I kept punching but I could feel the bone shifting more out of place. My future plans include a lot of rest as I just had surgery on my hand about two weeks ago.
[ Q ] Were you able to execute your game plan at all during the fight?
Pretty much I jabbed and used footwork, trying to get the range. I threw an overhand right, which broke my hand. From then on I did manage to throw some of the kicks I was planning on using, but the plan was to get in there and throw a lot of combinations, throw punches and let the hands go. I don't feel I did enough of that.
[ Q ] You were able to get some spinning back kicks off in the first round. Was this part of the plan?
I did train to use these kicks. If people are open they can be used to effect, and you can get away with throwing a few and missing - people will get out of the way - but if you spin too much you leave yourself open, you just have to turn and go in a straight line.
[ Q ] Do you feel you left yourself open during any of these kicks?
Well, he never countered me off the spinning back kick. He did counter me with some of the other shots when I boxed, but every time I threw a back kick I think it worked well.
[ Q ] There was some debate as to whether all three rounds should have gone to Griffin. Do you think you fought well overall?
I have now watched it a few times and I know I ran in the second and third rounds, but I fought well enough so it could have been a toss up.
| Another Close Bout:
Scores were 30-27 across the board for Griffin.
[ Q ] Is a re-match something that is being talked about?
Hopefully. I would like to get a crack at him and fight him the way I intended to. It is never up to me as to who I fight next, so I will pretty much just go with whomever they want me to fight.
[ Q ] As far as training goes, what are you able to do right now in light of your injury? What is the extent of your injury?
I haven't been able to do anything. I had surgery two weeks ago and had to have a couple of metal rods put through to two big pieces of bone that were torn apart, and there was also a degree of shattered bone around each side of that. So it will be a case of those little pieces clumping up over the side of the bone and calcifying over the next few months.
So it will be like deposits on each side, but it will work just fine. In about another four weeks I get the pins taken out and then it will take another six to eight weeks for the bone to become solid. In a nutshell that is what I am looking at.
[ Q ] What do you want to accomplish in MMA following your recovery?
I imagine after I get the pins taken out, a few weeks down the road I will be able to work on some techniques. I still want to go to Thailand in November. If I can't throw the hands by then at least I can work on everything else: elbows, knees and kicks and stuff. If I can do that I can learn more Ju-Jitsu, which I have been working on over the last few months and love. Those are the two main things. Also I have found a new takedown guy who is a good wrestler, so I can work on this skill.
[ Q ] What was going through your mind immediately prior to your fight with Griffin? Were you psyched for this one?
To be honest with you I was psyched, but I knew I had to be really careful. I was a little tentative, even though I was focused on getting my range before letting some flurries go. I didn't want to be careless because actually I had some stitches taken out over my eye three days before the fight. I knew a good shot would cause me to lose the fight because of the cut. You can see at the end of the fight about half of it had opened up, I had to get about four more stitches put back in. The plan was not to get hit with the early shots, and really get the distance first.
[ Q ] So the existing eye injury as well as the injury sustained to your hand early in the fight threw you off your game plan?
Yes. Funny thing was, before the fight I was nervous and worried about the cut getting opened. I was focused on not getting hit with the early shots and using my range, not letting him go to soon. But a minute into the fight I was just worried about not letting that right hand go, and when I did I had to go and recover from it. It made me forget about the cut. It didn't open all the way up so the didn't have to stop the fight.
[ Q ] The fight went the distance and you did look to have the edge at certain stages of the fight. Did you feel the decision could have gone either way?
I basically knew he went forward more and I went back more. Even if the shots are thrown equally, they usually give it to the guy who is moving forward. I had my doubts, even though I knew based on the fact the rounds could be broken down to each strike, with number of punches landed taken into account, it could have gone either way.
[ Q ] How would you rate the fight overall?
It was not a bad fight. It was entertaining enough. But my performance in this fight pissed me off, as I had not attacked to the extent I had originally planned on.
[ Q ] So, time for a good rest so you can come back stronger. Do you have any words for those who are following your career?
I am just really looking forward to fighting again and being healthy and just showing everyone what I can do. I can't wait to come back full force and let it all out.
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