UFC Hall of Famer Stephan Bonner, who made history as a finalist on the first season of “The Ultimate Fighter,” has died at age 45.
The UFC announced the news on Saturday, Christmas Eve, citing cardiac complications at work as the cause of Bonner’s death, which occurred on Thursday.
A legend in the world of mixed martial arts. “The American Psycho” Stephan Bonner was one half of the fight that many credits with turning around the then-struggling UFC, which took place at “The Ultimate Fighter 1 Finale” in April 2005 against Forrest Griffin. The match was lost, but its impact would remain for generations. Ultimately, the bout was inducted into the Fight Wing of the UFC Hall of Fame in 2013.
UFC President Dana White released a statement saying. “Stephan Bonnar was one of the most important fighters to fight in the Octagon.” ‘His fight with Forrest Griffin changed the sport forever. Fans loved him, empathized with him, and he always gave his best. He will be sorely missed.
Bonnar made 26 professional appearances, 15 in the UFC and one in Bellator, making his pro debut in 2001 and his UFC debut eight fights later. He entered the UFC with a 7-1 record, losing only to Griffin but winning his next three fights.
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
He lost to Rashad Evans and Griffin, followed by wins over Mark Nicols and Eric Shaffer. Split his next four fights with a 2-2 record. Bonner then lost to Jon Jones, Mark Coleman, and Krzysztof Sosinski, leaving a three-game gap. He earned a rematch with Soszynski before winning against Igor Pokrajac and Kyle Kingsbury.
His loss to Anderson Silva in the main event of UFC 153 was his last fight for the promotion. Bonnar parted company with the promotion after failing a drug test and claimed retirement. However, he re-entered the ring in 2014 to face Tito Ortiz at Bellator, losing a split decision.
Bonnar continued to headline intermittently after his final MMA bout; in 2019. He competed on Impact Wrestling after building for two years on the independent wrestling circuit; in 2020. Bonnar was briefly a cornerman for fellow TUF1 contestant Diego Sanchez. He rejoined the MMA circuit; in April 2022, Bonnar faced further hardship outside the cage when his home burned down.
Throughout the MMA community, Bonnar was beloved for his toughness and importance to the sport. Many fighters, promoters, fans, and loved ones took to social media on Saturday to mourn the loss of the UFC pioneer.