In addition to the main event showdown between Brock Lesnar (4-1) and Shane Carwin (11-0) UFC: 116 Lesnar vs. Carwin will also play host to the rematch between “American Psycho” Stephan Bonnar (11-7) and “The Polish Experiment” Krzysztof Soszynski (20-9-1). The two TUF alumni first met at UFC 110 where their bout was ended early by a cut caused by an accidental head butt. Unfortunately, referee John Sharp missed the head butt and ruled the bout a TKO victory for Soszynski. The result is an instant rematch between the two light heavyweight stalwarts in what should prove to be one of the most exciting fights on the card. The head butt may indeed be a blessing in disguise for both fighters as their initial meeting was an under card affair the aired only after the main card had finished and the rematch is two fights into a main card headlined by the unparalleled drawing power that is heavyweight champ Brock Lesnar. This provides both fighters with an opportunity to showcase themselves to the vast majority of the UFC fan base and possibly move the winner into a position as a main card staple. If the rematch is anywhere near as fast paced and exciting as the first fight, we could see both men leaping ahead of other mid tier Light heavyweights into a position as featured fighters on future Pay-Per-View events.
At First Glance: This fight has the unique appeal of being the continuation of a very even first bout. Though “The Experiment” had the upper hand for the majority of the fight, it was close enough that no one will look at this bout and say “Bonnar was getting whooped anyway, he’s just going to get thrashed again. This is a waste.” Looking at the first bout and at each fighters resume` this pairing comes across as even as can be. Bonnar’s camp at Extreme Couture is easily one of the absolute best in the business and there is possibly no one better to prepare him for Krzysztof’s ground n pound assault than Randy Couture. On the other hand, “The Polish Experiment” showed in the first bout that he outclasses Bonnar in every area provided he is the aggressor and is at least Bonnar’s equal when on the defensive. With Bonnar carrying a three fight losing streak into this bout, it does appear that Krzysztof will be another prospect who will easily bypass this gatekeeper but the competitive nature of the first bout proves that “American Psycho” may be more of a threat than Krzysztof or anyone else gives him credit for.
Inside and Out: The biggest factor in this fight is easily “The Experiment’s” aggression. When he keeps the pace up and continually presses the attack, he is a force to be reckoned with. If you look at his last 5 official losses, four of which occurred over three years and six fights ago, he’s only been stopped once and every loss has come from an opponent being able to clinch with him against the cage/ropes and stifle his offense. The problem for Bonnar in this situation lies in the fact that, despite being able to slow “The Experiment” down several times in the first bout, he lacked the offensive control to stop Soszynski from countering him and going right back on the attack. Bonnar is notoriously hard to finish and is very good at getting himself out of bad situations, but with no meaningful offense of his own it becomes a simple question of how he loses: by TKO when Krzysztof manages to cut him again or by decision when “The Polish Experiment” beats him up on the feet between the brief periods of ground/clinch control “American Psycho” manages to gain throughout the fight.
The Wild Card: Two words: clinch control. The biggest hole in Krzysztof’s game is his counter wrestling. Randy Couture knows this and has the wrestling pedigree to teach Bonnar how to use it to his advantage. Fighting the smart fight translates to Bonner as using footwork to avoid “The Experiment’s” boxing and locking him up in the clinch in order to shove his opponent against the cage where he can dirty box his way safely to a decision. On the ground, Bonnar can maintain top control indefinitely as long as he doesn’t attempt to mount any meaningful offense but the clinch offers him the opportunity to deal a fair amount of damage. The only risk this game plan presents is if “American Psycho” allows Soszynski to utilize the Thai plumb the way he did in their first meeting.
The Verdict: In the end, this bout will play out much like the first one did. Bonnar will prove to us once again that he is tough as a rusty coffin nail and as hard to finish as that 64oz steak at Shula’s Steakhouse but he will come up short again. “The Polish Experiment” will push the pace, beating up Bonnar on his feet and will utilize the double collar tie to make Bonnar pay for every clinch situation he initiates. Krzysztof moves to 21-9-1 after a unanimous decision victory over the UFC’s eternal gatekeeper.