Stephan Bonnar has lost 36 pounds recovering from a near-fatal staph infection on his fractured spine

The Underground
stephan bonnar
Credit: MMAFighting/YouTube

Ultimate Fighter Season 1 finalist Stephan Bonnar has a long recovery in front of him after revealing that he not only has a fractured vertebra in his back but also developed a near-fatal staph infection on his spine.

It has been a difficult few months for the 16-fight UFC veteran. After making headlines in Sept. from a viral video of him confronting hospital staff to get pain medication for his back, many in the MMA community were concerned about the UFC Hall-of-Famer. Wondering if he could have a badly out-of-control opioid addiction.

However, on Tuesday a great deal of clarity on the situation came in a new interview Bonnar conducted with MMAFighting. As he explained that his erratic behavior last month was due to serious pain from a fractured vertebra he suffered recently in his current post-MMA career as a professional wrestler. And the frustrations of having difficulties in getting answers as to why his condition only worsened days after the injury occurred

Stephan Bonnar details near-fatal staph infection on his spine

“My condition pretty much deteriorated over the next couple of days [following the viral video]. It was four or five days to where I couldn’t get up, down, nothing. I couldn’t move. It’s [was] ten days since the original injury and it’s been way worse. I’m swollen everywhere, the pain’s worse, something’s wrong,” Bonnar said in the interview. “That night I went to the ER. I was in such bad shape they just pulled me in the wheelchair, went and took my blood and that’s all it took. They said, ‘Well, you have a really bad infection.’ They took some x-rays, and sure enough, on each side of my spine where the fracture was, there was these abscesses filled with staph.”

Bonnar’s hospital visit saved his life as doctors told him the infection could have been fatal if it had reached his bloodstream and moved on to his heart. The revelation was shocking, even for a man that has dealt with an incredible amount of injuries during his fighting career. Including multiple staph infections and over 20 broken bones.

“When [the doctor] said it like that, it really, kind of, wow, it shocked me, like, here I go again. I’m almost, like, f*cking dead here,” he said. “How did it get like this? It just got to where I was injured, and a week later I tried going in the ER and got shot down and was all upset about that. But in the meantime, I’ve got all this staph building up, and yeah, it really potentially fatal, and you don’t even think about it. You’re just upset you couldn’t get treatment at the hospital — you didn’t even know what you needed the treatment for.”

Bonnar required a month-long stay in the hospital where he lost 36 pounds trying to bounce back from the infection. He is currently at home in the midst of a five-week process of healing that includes having antibiotics administered through an IV three times a day. However, when he does eventually recover from the infection he still has a serious spinal injury to deal with. An injury that has him currently using a walker to get around his home.

“I hope to god this infection is clearing up, but the fractured vertebrae, I still really can’t put weight on it. I have this walker I get around on. I’ve been injured a lot, but nothing like this,” Bonnar said.

Bonnar is officially retired as professional athlete

The difficulties of the last two months have forced “The American Psycho” to come to terms with the realization that his days as a professional athlete are over. His 44-year-old body, with over 20 years of trauma from his athletic pursuits, is just no longer up to the task of such physical demands. He plans to switch careers and get into the field of medical equipment sales. With the hope of earning the type of pay necessary to support his family and any future medical needs.

“I would like to do something that has a good payoff that doesn’t require any physical risk, really. After this one, I don’t want to be hurt any more. Hopefully heal from this, but I definitely don’t want to break anything. I’ve been pretty consistently getting injured my whole life, and I’m pretty sick of it,” said Bonnar. “So I’ve had enough, man. My body’s had it. When I retired from MMA, my body had had it. But at least the wrestling, you could collaborate with a guy and work around injuries. But after this one, I’m just done.”

Bonnar last competed in MMA for Bellator. Losing by split-decision to fellow UFC Hall-of-Famer Tito Ortiz back in November of 2014. His last bout in the UFC was a first-round technical knockout loss to middleweight legend Anderson Silva at UFC 153 in 2012.

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