Stephan Bonnar, a member of the UFC Hall of Fame who gained fame on the inaugural season of The Ultimate Fighter, passed away, the company said on Saturday. He was 45.
The UFC said that Bonnar passed away “while at work due to “presumed cardiac issues.” As of right now, there are no more specifics available on the cause of death.
“Stephan Bonnar was one of the most important fighters to ever compete in the Octagon,” UFC president Dana White said. “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.”
Born in Hammond, Indiana, Bonnar first appeared in the UFC in 2005 as a contestant on The Ultimate Fighter. The athletic jiu-jitsu expert made it all the way to the competition’s championship round before falling to Forrest Griffin in a memorable match by unanimous decision. Bonnar received a contract for his efforts despite the defeat. Ultimately, he and Griffin, who had retired in 2012, were both inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame for the match in July 2013.
In the course of his nine-year UFC career, Bonnar developed a strong character as “The American Psycho,” and the inaugural Ultimate Fighter finals played a significant role in the UFC’s public introduction. Along with Griffin, Bonnar competed against a number of current and former champions, like as Rashad Evans, Jon Jones, and Anderson Silva.
Following his retirement from the UFC in 2012, Bonnar rejoined Bellator in November 2014 to compete against Tito Ortiz at Bellator 131. Following a split decision, Bonnar would take a second retirement from mixed martial arts. Over the next years, he worked as an MMA commentator for ESPN and Fox Sports as well as giving color commentary for World Extreme Cagefighting. In addition, he started a professional wrestling career, which he continued until his passing in 2018.
In his 24 MMA battles, Bonnar has won 15 times—three by knockout, seven by submission, and three by decisions—while suffering nine defeats.
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