Stephan Bonnar (9-4) is set to make his return to the Octagon after serving a nine-month suspension for steroid use against Mike Nickels (5-1) at UFC Fight Night 10 on June 12.
Nickels — a former contestant on The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 3 – made the announcement after a seven-second knockout of Carpaccio Owens at a Ring of Fire event over the weekend.
Since defeating Wes Combs via rear naked choke at UFC Fight Night 3 in June 2006, Nickels has not returned to the Octagon. He was scheduled to face Keith Jardine at UFC 64, but pulled out at the very last moment because of an injury.
It was so late that the UFC couldn't find a replacement for Nickels – something that didn't go over to well with the UFC brass. It worked out for Jardine, however, who went on to upset Forrest Griffin at UFC 66 in December 2006.
Bonnar, of course, is half the reason the TUF series and the UFC has enjoyed success during the last few years – his epic battle with Griffin at the TUF 1 Finale was legendary.
However, Bonnar has been unable to live up to the potential he showed that April night in 2005.
The "American Psycho" went on to beat Sam Hoger (unanimous decision) and James Irvin (kimura), but has looked average in his last three fights — a questionable win over Jardine (unanimous decision), a loss to Rashad Evans (majority decision) and the loss to Griffin at UFC 62 (unanimous decision).
And then, he got popped after UFC 62 for having illegal steroids in his system.
If nothing else, Bonnar has had a tremendous amount of time to train and focus on his career during the suspension.
It'll be interesting to see if Bonnar returns recharged and ready to make some noise in the 205-pound class.
The division can use a talent – and personality -- like Bonnar.
Thanks to UFCmania reader "Don" for the assist (sorry it took me some time to pass it along).