Stephan Bonnar, a UFC Hall of Famer, has died after a long battle with heart complications. With his memorable fight against Forrest Griffin in the Ultimate Fighter Season 1 Finale, the former UFC light heavyweight helped to establish MMA as a global sport.
According to a news statement from the UFC, Bonnar passed away “presumed heart complications while at work.” He was 45.
UFC President Dana White said, “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.”
A pioneering fighter who made his UFC debut on season one of The Ultimate Fighter in 2005, Bonnar collaborated with Forrest Griffin to produce one of the greatest fights ever, eventually earning it a spot in the fight wing of the UFC Hall of Fame.
Griffin was given a UFC deal after winning the thrilling contest. Yet Bonnar received a contract as well as a promotion.
Bonnar once said of the epic three-rounder –
“I knew it was a good fight during the fight. It hit me when everyone started stomping their feet and it felt like the whole place was shaking. And that was in the second round. I was like ‘oooh, this must be good.”
“Everything changed. I didn’t think I’d have a UFC career. It was just a little hobby I was doing, so it changed everything. 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 was going ‘Hey Bonnar.’ And everywhere you go, someone knows who you are. It was wild.”
Dubbed “The American Psycho,” Bonnar competed as a light heavyweight for seven years, taking on legends like Tito Ortiz, Anderson Silva, Rashad Evans, and Jon Jones.
The native of Hammond, Indiana, concluded with a 17-9 UFC record, defeating competitors like James Irvin, Igor Pokrajac, and Krzysztof Soszynski.
The UFC Confirmed Bonnar’s Death on Its Twitter Page
The UFC confirmed Bonnar’s death in a statement posted to its Twitter page. “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 wrote.
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.
— UFC (@ufc) December 24, 2022
ESPN reported that Bonnar died “at work.” More details were not announced, including about the nature of that work.
People left comments on Bonnar’s Facebook page. “Another athlete in their 40’s dies from heart issues. So very sad, and all to common in the last couple of years. Prayers for his family and friends” wrote one.
“This is what no medical insurance or benefits looks like. I love fighting and the UFC but this is disgusting and the part of the game I hate. Bonnar pleated for medical treatment for years and could not afford it. C’mon Dana, C’mon UFC step up,”a man wrote.
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