Officials Reveal Cause Of Death For UFC Legend Who Died Suddenly In Nevada

Photo credit should read CHRISTOPHE SIMON/AFP/GettyImages)

James Lynch Contributor
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UFC Hall of Famer Stephan Bonnar died of an accidental fentanyl overdose, the Clark County, Nevada, coroner’s office ruled Monday.

Bonnar died in Las Vegas on Dec. 22, 2022, at age 45. His official caused of death was listed as “Fentanyl, Parafluorofentanyl and Mitragynine intoxication,” mixed martial arts media outlet MMA Fighting reported. (RELATED: NBC Affiliate Anchor Leslie Swick Van Ness Dies Suddenly While On Family Vacation In Florida)

His cause of death was disclosed in an email sent to MMA Fighting after a public records request. The coroner’s office did not provide the outlet with any additional details about Bonnar’s death. A spokesperson told the outlet that Bonnar’s case took longer than the usual 90-day period because of further testing performed during the autopsy.

Bonnar’s cause of death was not initially disclosed, but the UFC said on Dec. 24 that he died of “presumed heart complications while at work.”

“Stephan Bonnar was one of the most important fighters to ever compete in the Octagon,” UFC President Dana White said in a Dec. 24 press release. “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.”

Bonnar’s fight against Griffin in season one of the UFC’s “The Ultimate Fighter” is widely credited with saving the sport, eventually being inducted into the fight wing of the UFC Hall of Fame.

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid linked to the surge in opioid induced overdose deaths over the past decade, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. The drug is frequently consumed with other lethal drugs and trafficked illegally by drug cartels. A January 2020 report by the Drug Enforcement Administration identified China as the “primary source” of fentanyl and fentanyl related substances trafficked into the U.S.

Parafluorofentanyl is an analogue of fentanyl and mitragynine is a compound used as an opioid substitute. Bonnar previously discussed his opioid use in a 2021 interview with MMA Fighting. He said he legally used oxycodone to treat long term pain and injuries he sustained from professional fighting and wrestling.