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Stephan Bonnar update: After discovering severe staph infection, TUF 1 vet ‘just done,’ targets day job

The Ultimate Fighter 1 veteran Stephan Bonnar now says he was suffering from a severe staph infection during a recent emergency room visit and an interview that left many in the MMA community concerned for his health.

Bonnar said shortly after the interview, he spent over one month in the hospital after doctors found infected abscesses on both sides of a fractured vertebrae he said he suffered during pro wrestling match. He is now on a five-week recovery program that requires him to take IV antibiotics every 8 hours until the staph abates. Then he can address his back injury.

If the staph had gone untreated, doctors told Bonnar, the infection could have been fatal.

“When [the doctor] said it like that, it really, kind of, wow, it shocked me, like, here I got again,” Bonnar told MMA Fighting. “I’m almost, like, f*cking dead here. 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.”

At the time of his first interview with MMA Fighting, Bonnar was couch-bound and appeared to be a tremendous amount of pain. He said he wanted someone to deliver him pain medication so he could function after running out of the oxycodone he used to treat longstanding knee, hip and neck injuries. That prompted many in the MMA community to conclude his issue was with drug dependency and not a wrestling injury.

After watching the interview, Bonnar wanted to show fans his need for treatment stemmed from legitimate medical issues.

“I knew something wasn’t right,” he said. “I knew this shouldn’t be getting this much worse – I feel 10 times worse and it’s been 10 days later. So yeah, I really wish it didn’t come to that.”

Bonnar said he lost 36 pounds in the hospital and showed off a walker he uses to get around the house. His wife, Andrea, and a nurse are helping him as he recovers from the infection.

“It’s hard to eat, too,” he said. “I don’t have much of an appetite. I’m just forcing, for the most part, protein shakes with Ensures, and milk and an egg, and have that most of the day. ... This really took a lot out of me.”

Pro wrestling was mostly a hobby for Bonnar, who retired from MMA in 2015 after a 13-year career in MMA. Following his recent health scare, he now plans to transition to a steady job in medical equipment sales and retire from all competition.

“I would like to do something that has a good payoff that doesn’t require any physical risk, really,” he said. “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. I’ve had 10 surgeries, broken about 20 bones – well, 22 now.

“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.”

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