"If you think Scott Coker and Spike TV are writing this material, you're nuts," Bonnar said.
Well, actually, he had a whole lot more to say during a half-hour-long appearance on Monday's MMA Hour. But Bonnar's stunt promoting his Nov. 15th fight with Ortiz in San Diego was the talk of the mixed martial arts world.
The interview, in which Bonnar pulled a mask off to reveal former fighter and Ortiz training partner Justin McCully, followed by a less-than-convincing brawl, was met with a mixed reaction. There were those who felt the stunt was genius because it got attention. There were those who felt it went too far in the direction of pro wrestling. And there were those who might not mind a little showbiz flair with their MMA, but would prefer it to be something less over-the-top and poorly executed than what went down at Mohegan Sun.
But Bonnar stuck by his guns in the face of all the criticism.
"I cant believe people are this stupid. There are people with all these conspiracy theories," Bonnar said. "People think like, they got us all in the office with SpikeTV and the Bellator brass and we all planned out this elaborate plan."
Bonnar insists he was simply trying to get into Ortiz's head and didn't particularly care what the people in the arena thought - particularly the notion that he didn't bother introducing McCully, who few people knew.
"I'm a guy who adores guys like Andy Kaufman and Borat and pulls fast ones on guys," Bonnar said. "I wanted to put something over on Tito. Personally, the disdain for him is completely true, and that's the reason i didn't introduce Justin McCully, because it didn't matter to the crowd. It was for Tito. It was for Tito to see, like, look, this guy really knows you really well and he has the dirt on you and he's in my corner."
The UFC Hall of Famer claimed that he brought McCully backstage, in his mask, to meet with Bellator brass, and that Scott Coker and the Spike crew didn't know who the masked man was, nor tried to find out his identity, before putting him out on live national television.
"I walked in there with Justin McCully, he had a mask on," Bonnar said. "That was the first time I ever met Scott Coker in person. He looked at me, he went ‘what the hell.' The people from Spike looked at me, they went ‘what the hell.' I said, don't worry, it's all going to make sense in the end, just trust me. They said ‘alright.' They had no idea who it was."
Anyone who's ever been accosted over something minor by a self-important security guard might go on to ask from here how a masked man managed to jump through all the arena's security hoops. Or about McCully's second mask underneath his main one, which was molded to look like McCully's face, the sort of prop you'd think only a New York- and Hollywood-based media conglomerate could conceive.
Regardless, Bonnar knew that his television stunt was a risky move.
"I knew that was a risk, Bonnar said. "I knew this. I don't like this guy, for one. I'm not going to play nice anymore. I like doing the interviews, and doing funny stuff, but I never went after someone like this, because I never really had to. I never disliked someone I fought like this. But now I do. I have that opportunity to and I'm not going to blow it."
Meanwhile, Bonnar said that he wasn't planning on coming out of retirement, but a fight with Ortiz was something he couldn't pass up.
"Honestly I had no desire to fight again," Bonnar said. "I was happily retired. I got approached approached about the idea and said I wasn't interested. I got approached again and they said what if I can get you your first fight with Tito. I said oh my God, not only is that a fight I dreamed of, but on a personal level I don't care for the guy. We've got a lot of mutual friends and he's done a lot of wrong things to people. I'm jaded, I've been retired and I didn't go out of this sport the way I wanted to, and yeah, I've got a little chip on my shoulder. So I said, that's perfect, man. Let's make that fight."
Bonnar went on a long tangent relating stories of former confidantes of Ortiz making accusations against the former UFC light heavyweight champ. Most of them involved allegations Ortiz had stiffed training partners on their payouts. The second-hand accounts, some with names attached and some not, can't be substantiated. But it's clear Bonnar feels he's fighting to do right for those Ortiz has allegedly wronged.
"These examples go on and on, guys who have been his friends for 10, 15 years," he said.
And he couldn't resist taking a swipe at his fellow UFC Hall of Famer's legacy, saying he and Forrest Griffin came to the rescue of a company which was failing when Ortiz was on top.
"Tito was headlining the main events of the PPVs before Ultimate Fighter 1, he was in all the big fights," Bonnar said. "Go talk to Dana and Lorenzo, they were ready to sell the UFC. They were losing money, it was a sinking ship. So I had to step up alongside Forrest and save them. Save them from selling this organization, save it from extinction. So in a way, Tito was taking this sport under, and we stepped up and hit a home run and got people back on board. If anything, he should be thanking me."