Horrific news coming out of the world of Mixed Martial Arts and the UFC as Hall of Famer and legendary fighter Stephan Bonnar has passed away at age 45.
Bonnar is most notably known for his amazing “The Ultimate Fighter” reality show Season 1 battle for the first ever winner against fellow UFC Hall of Famer Forrest Griffin.
Bonnar died of presumed heart complications while at work, according to the UFC.
Bonnar and Griffin were both inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame in 2013. Their knockdown, drag-out fight on April 9, 2005, is regarded as one of the most important fights in the history of the promotion.
“The Ultimate Fighter” reality series and that fight in particular were critical to landing and keeping the UFC on cable.
Griffin won the grueling battle by unanimous decision but the fight was so good that UFC President Dana White offered Bonnar a contract as well.
“Stephan Bonnar was one of the most important fighters to ever compete in the Octagon,” White told UFC.com on Saturday. “His fight with Forrest Griffin changed the sport forever, and he will never be forgotten. The fans loved him, related to him and he always gave them his best. He will be missed.”
Bonnar, a native of Hammond, Indiana, but a longtime resident of Las Vegas, had not fought in MMA since a bout with Tito Ortiz under the Bellator banner in 2014, which headlined what at the time was the most watched Bellator event in its history. Bonnar last competed in the UFC in 2012, a loss to all-time great Anderson Silva. Before that bout, Bonnar was on a three-fight winning streak.
The following is from ESPN:
In his career, Bonnar faced seven future or former UFC champions: Griffin, Ortiz, Silva, Evans, Jon Jones, Lyoto Machida and Mark Coleman. Bonnar named his first son Griffin after his most significant rival, who went on to become a good friend.
Bonnar, who finished his career with a 15-9 record, also did color commentary over the years for the WEC promotion and worked several times as an MMA analyst for ESPN and Fox Sports.
Following his MMA career, Bonnar took up professional wrestling and made multiple appearances with Impact Wrestling in 2019.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to Bonnar and his family during this difficult time.