UFC Hall of Famer Stephan Bonnar died Thursday at the age of 45 from what is assumed to be heart complications, according to an official statement.
Bonnar was at work at the time of this death, UFC wrote. “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.”
I always looked forward to seeing and talking with Stephen Bonnar at High Rollerz BJJ, he was a good dude. I think I’ll watch the Forest Griffin fight tonight to pay respects. 🙏🏼 RIP pic.twitter.com/bbCFsVnQcc
— Rob Van Dam (@TherealRVD) December 25, 2022
Bonnar rose to fame on season one of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) after joining with Forrest Griffin at the show’s 2005 finale. The matchup has long been considered one of the greatest UFC fights in history, having earned a place in the UFC Hall of Fame’s fight wing.
The first Griffin-Bonnar fight has been credited with saving the UFC, as it led to another season of TUF that attracted a new generation of fans to the sport.
“I didn’t think I’d have a UFC career. It was just a little hobby I was doing, so it changed everything,” Bonnar once said, according to UFC’s website. “Almost overnight, I became like a celebrity. Everywhere I went, someone would recognize me, even in obscure places.” (RELATED: UFC Fighter Anthony ‘Rumble’ Johnson Dead At 38)
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
Bonnar’s long UFC career included his defeat of James Irvin, Keith Jardine, Krzysztof Soszynski, Igor Pokrajac and Kyle Kingsbury.
He also faced up against the likes of fellow Hall of Famers Forrest Griffin, Jon Jones, Rashad Evans, Mark Coleman, Anderson Silva and Tito Ortiz.
Bonnar finished off his career with a 17-9 record, and was easily considered to be one of the most memorable figures in UFC history, according to the website.
“If you never quit, you really can’t fail,” he once said, according to UFC.