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After UFO experience 16 years in the making, Stephan Bonnar to corner Diego Sanchez at UFC 253

Sixteen years after they argued and almost came to blows over asparagus heads on the legendary first season of “The Ultimate Fighter,” Stephan Bonnar and Diego Sanchez will be on the same team at UFC 253.

Bonnar, who last fought in 2014, will corner Sanchez (30-12 MMA, 19-12 UFC) for his welterweight fight against Jake Matthews on Saturday. The fight tops the pay-per-view event’s preliminary card portion.

Sanchez announced the news in a recent interview with MMA reporter James Lynch.

“The world and the universe goes full circle,” Sanchez said. “We came full circle. This is my boy and he’s going to be supporting me (and) helping me. I’ve got another cornerman.”

Since the taping of The Ultimate Fighter, Season 1 in 2004, Sanchez and Bonnar have crossed paths a number of times. They’ve stayed in touch and hung out, but didn’t have many opportunities to train together.

With Sanchez getting work in at the UFC Performance Institute in Las Vegas, he began getting training in at Bonnar’s gym, Silver Wolf Training. When he made a trip down to Sanchez’s home of Albuquerque, N.M., Bonnar decided to take Sanchez up on an offer that was extended 16 years prior.

“When I was down in Albuquerque, we hung out in the mountains together,” Bonnar said. “Sixteen years ago on The Ultimate Fighter, he said, ‘Dude you’ve got to come down to the mountains in Albuquerque and we can see some UFOs together under the stars.’ Here we are. Finally, I took him up on it. It took me long enough.”

According to Bonnar, UFOs were spotted during their trip to the mountains, though he admits there may have been other forces at play in producing his visions.

“Beyond a shadow of a doubt (I saw UFOs),” Bonnar said. “Was I under the influence of psychedelics? Yes, but I definitely saw bright lights moving around.”

Overall, Bonnar said the experience was cleansing and helped refresh his mind, body, and soul. He now feels ready to corner Sanchez in the battle to keep his name in the win column with another victory Saturday.

“I definitely reconnected with Mother Nature,” Bonnar said. “Boom. I’m a new man. I’m recharged.”

UFC 253 takes place Saturday at Flash Forum at Yas Island in Abu Dhabi. The main card airs on pay-per-view following prelims on ESPN2 and ESPN+.

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