The Harlem Globetrotters vs. the Washington Generals comes to mind.
When Stephan Bonnar steps into the octagon on Saturday night, it will be in front a Rio de Janeiro crowd that will have flocked to UFC 153 (10 p.m. ET, PPV) for no other reason than to lay praise at the feet of Anderson Silva. Bonnar will be merely a bit player opposite the Brazilian star. He'll be a part of the dramatic scenery, like the sturdy-looking but only two-dimensional trees painted on the backdrop that just stand there as the show unfolds in front of them on the eight-sided stage. He'll be an accessory from the wardrobe trailer, like the top hat and cane that made Fred Astaire look so stylish. If given a living, breathing part in the production, Stephan Bonnar will be handed the role of Red Klotz.
That's not quite fair to Bonnar, who's a real fighter who'll be fighting for real on Saturday night. It's not his intention to merely be an innocuous foil in Silva's show, as Klotz & Co. have done in losing to the Trotters night after night for decades. Bonnar will be trying to win. But he's coming out of retirement to take this fight, one in which he'd have faced stiff odds even if he were in the prime of his career. Winning is a possibility, sure -- anything can happen when two guys wearing four-ounce glove collide -- but that would be the unlikeliest of plot twists.
None if that has dissuaded Dana White from going all hyperbolic on us in selling this fight, a replacement main event for which Silva volunteered after José Aldo was injured in a motorcycle accident in Rio and had to pull out of his featherweight title defense against former lightweight champ Frankie Edgar. P.T. Barnum would step right up and be amazed as the UFC president characterizes Bonnar as a heroic figure right out of
A cynical reinterpretation of "a fun fight" would be "a fight that, though a mismatch, has just enough star power to allow the UFC to sell it on pay-per-view." A less jaded view would be that any time we get to see a genius artist at work, it's not to be missed. I mean, Chuck Berry has spent years touring the country in his Cadillac, just him and his guitar, playing shows with whatever backup band the local promoters could rustle up. Any Johnny with a bass and drum kit could do a good enough job on "Johnny B. Goode" to allow Chuck to put on his show. Most nights that was good enough, and some nights it even was great. Because it was Chuck's show.
Saturday night is Anderson's show.