Anderson Silva isn't willing to fight Ultimate Fighting Championship light-heavyweight champion Jon Jones, but the 35-year-old veteran Stephan Bonnar is suitable.
So on Saturday, Silva and Bonnar will face off in a non-title bout on the pay-per-view UFC 153 card in Rio de Janeiro.
It has been a difficult year for the UFC, with superstar welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre sidelined by a knee injury and Jones canceling a fight card by declining a title defense rematch against Chael Sonnen. And now Silva's selection of Bonnar is another compromise.
The Brazilian Silva (30-4) has reigned as middleweight champion since 2006. He returns to the octagon sooner than expected after convincingly dismissing Sonnen by second-round knockout in July following the challenger's near upset of Silva in 2010.
Bonnar (17-7) is best known for his epic bout against Forrest Griffin in the "The Ultimate Fighter" finale of its debut season in 2005, which helped spark the UFC toward mainstream sports prominence.
Silva is a 12-1 favorite in Las Vegas sports books.
"I'm going in there to fight, not to just go in there and think it was cool to share an octagon with Anderson Silva," Bonnar said.
Silva repeated this week that he has no intention to pursue Jones, although UFC President Dana White said he will make the fight if it's in the UFC's best interest.
Silva could also be placed in another super-fight, against St-Pierre, should the Canadian win his title defense in Montreal next month.
"We will see what happens," White said.