Stephan Bonnar, UFC Hall of Famer, dead at 45 of complications from a presumed heart issue

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Stephan Bonnar, whose fight with Forrest Griffin in The Ultimate Fighter’s first finale was one of the greatest in UFC history, died Thursday at the age of 45. (CHRISTOPHE SIMON/AFP/GettyImages)

UFC light heavyweight Stephan Bonner, who not only made him into the Hall of Fame in his memorable fight with Forrest Griffin, but also may have saved the UFC from bankruptcy, died Thursday at the age of 45, the UFC announced.

Bonner and Griffin engaged in one of the greatest fights in the promotion’s history at the Ultimate Fighter Season 1 light heavyweight finale on April 9, 2005 at the Cox Pavilion on the UNLV campus in Las Vegas. did. The UFC was tens of millions of dollars in debt at the time, and then-owner Lorenzo Fertitta directed president Dana White to find a buyer.

But after the epic Griffin-Bonnar fight on Spike TV, White, Fertitta and Spike executives signed a new TV deal in the arena’s parking lot, and the company’s trajectory quickly picked up.

According to, Bonner died on the job from complications believed to be a heart condition. White told that Bonner is one of the most important fighters in UFC history.

Stephan Bonner was one of the most important fighters to ever fight in the Octagon. Fighting Forrest Griffin changed the sport forever and he will never be forgotten. Fans love him, relate to him, and he always gave his best. he will miss

Bonner was not only an aggressive striker holding a black belt in jiu-jitsu, but also a golden witty speaker with a microphone in his face.

He lost a split decision to Griffin in the TUF 1 finale, but the UFC also gave him a contract. Seven of his eight UFC losses have been to Hall of Fame fighters like Griffin, Rashad Evans, Jon Jones, or Anderson Silva. His only UFC loss he wasn’t inducted into was against Krzysztof his Sosinski. He defeated Sosinski in a rematch.

Bonner lost only once in his pre-UFC era, dropping a bout against Yoshito Machida in Jungle Fight 1. Sosinski is the only non-UFC Champion to beat Bonner.

He lost to Tito Ortiz in a fight final on November 15, 2014 at Bellator 131. He dabbled in professional wrestling at the end of his career and after his retirement.

However, he will forever be known for his fight with Griffin.

Everything has changed. I never thought I would have a career in the UFC. It was just a little hobby I was doing, so everything changed. Almost overnight, I became like a celebrity. Everywhere I went, even in obscure places, someone recognized me. I was traveling with TapouT and was in a small town. I was jogging and someone was in a pickup truck yelling, “Hey Bonner.” Wherever you go, someone knows you. It was wild.

Bonner has a wife, Andrea, and a son, Griffin.

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - APRIL 9, 2005: (LR) Stephen Bonner and Forrest Griffin in the Light Heavyweight final during the Ultimate Fighter Season Finale Live at Cox Pavilion in Las Vegas on April 9, 2005 reacts after a historic three-round fight at Nevada.  (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

UFC Hall of Famer Stephan Bonner (L) died Thursday at the age of 45 after his 2005 fight with Forrest Griffin.

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