The UFC world mourns the tragic death of Hall of Famer Stephan Bonnar at the age of 45. The UFC announced on Saturday that the light heavyweight whose memorable fight with Forrest Griffin not only landed him in the Hall of Fame but may also have saved the UFC from bankruptcy, died on Thursday.
“The UFC family is saddened by the passing of UFC Hall of Famer Stephan Bonnar. We send our sincerest condolences to his family and friends,” the UFC tweeted.
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Bonnar and Griffin engaged in one of the great fights in the promotion’s history on April 9, 2005, in the light heavyweight finale of Season 1 of The Ultimate Fighter at the Cox Pavilion on the UNLV campus in Las Vegas. The UFC was tens of millions of dollars in debt at the time and then owner Lorenzo Fertitta instructed president Dana White to look for a buyer.
But after the epic Griffin-Bonnar fight on Spike TV, White, Fertitta and Spike executives worked out a new TV deal in the arena’s parking lot and the company’s trajectory immediately took off. According to UFC.com, Bonnar died of complications from a suspected heart problem while on the job. White told UFC.com that Bonnar is among the most significant fighters in UFC history.
“Stephan Bonnar was one of the most important fighters to ever compete in the Octagon. 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,” White said.
Bonnar was not only an aggressive striker who held a black belt in jiu-jitsu, but he was a witty public speaker who was gold with a microphone in his face. He lost a split decision to Griffin in the TUF 1 final, but the UFC gave him a contract as well.
“He went on to fight 15 times in the promotion, compiling a 7-8 record in the UFC. Of his eight UFC losses, seven of them were to fighters already in the Hall of Fame, such as Griffin, Rashad Evans, Jon Jones. , or those who will be, such as Anderson Silva. His only UFC loss against a non-Hall of Famer was to Krzysztof Soszynski. He defeated Soszynski in a rematch.
Bonnar only lost once in his pre-UFC days, dropping a bout at Jungle Fight 1 to Lyoto Machida. Soszynski is the only non-UFC champion to ever beat Bonnar.
In his fight finale, he was beaten by Tito Ortiz at Bellator 131 on November 15, 2014. He finished with a career record of 15-9 with nine finishes. He dabbled in professional wrestling at the end of his career and after retiring.
UFC world reacts to tragic death of Stephan Bonnar
But he will forever be known for the fight with Griffin. He said he was shocked by the way his fame increased after the attack.
“Everything changed. I didn’t think I would have a UFC career. It was just a little hobby I did, so it changed everything,” he said. “Almost overnight, I became like a celebrity. Everywhere I went, someone would recognize me, even in obscure places. I was traveling with TapouT and we were in a small town. I was jogging and someone in a pickup truck went “Hey Bonnar”. .’ And everywhere you go, somebody knows who you are. It was wild.”
Bonnar is survived by his wife Andrea and son Griffin. Tributes and condolences poured in on social networks.
with Kevin Iole – Yahoo Sports
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