The Ultimate Fighter Season 1 finalist Stephan Bonnar will fight again, and it won't be inside the legendary UFC Octagon.
Despite being a UFC Hall of Fame inductee, Bonnar's next fight will come under the Bellator MMA banner, according to a report from MMA Fighting's Ariel Helwani. While no official debut fight is set for Bonnar at this time, all signs point toward a Bonnar vs. Tito Ortiz showdown in the near future.
"I want everyone to know I'm coming out of retirement because it's time to free the MMA world of the virus that's known as Tito Ortiz," Bonnar said in a statement provided by Bellator (via Helwani). "We've been suffering through his boring fights for too many years, and it's about time that someone beats it out of him once and for all."
In addition to Bonnar's statement through Bellator, Twitter personality Brian McMahon (@FrontRowBrian) tweeted last week that Bonnar vs. Ortiz was set and that UFC President Dana White "gave Bonnar his blessing."
On more than one occasion, McMahon's Twitter reports have not come to fruition, but he files factual, high-profile reports from time to time, and coupled with Bonnar's statement and recent signing with Bellator, it appears we may be able to file this tweet into the latter category.
As fun as this news is, it's hard to get too excited about the Bonnar vs. Ortiz fight itself. Bonnar is 37 years old, and he hasn't fought since a one-round blowout against Anderson Silva at UFC 153. In that matchup, Bonnar was juiced to the gills, and he failed to so much as touch Silva before crumpling to a ferocious knee to the solar plexus late in Round 1.
Ortiz, meanwhile, last fought in May of this year, when he defeated Bellator middleweight champion Alexander Shlemenko at Bellator 120 via first-round submission. Before that, Ortiz suffered through a three-fight skid in the UFC, losing to Rashad Evans and Antonio Rogerio Nogueira via TKO and dropping a decision to Forrest Griffin.
Despite this, Bonnar vs. Ortiz possesses just enough star power and name recognition to plant some butts in seats. While it won't serve as a showcase of the pinnacle of talent in MMA today, it will still be fun to see two aging veterans enter the cage and slug it out before riding into the sunset of their careers.