Famed UFC fighter Stephan Bonnar dead at 45 from presumed ‘heart complications’

Hall of Fame UFC fighter Stephan Bonnar, known as “The American Psyco,” reportedly passed away last week at the age of 45, the Daily Caller reported.

Though few details have been released about his death, the cause is presumed to be “heart complications.”

A “pioneering competitor” who won’t be forgotten

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

According to the UFC, Bonnar had been a “pioneering competitor” who rose to prominence as a competitor on the first season of “The Ultimate Fighter” in 2005 which culminated in a final showdown with Forrest Griffin — a fight that was later regarded as one of the best of all time and earned a mention in the sport’s Hall of Fame.

Following that bout, which propelled Bonnar to stardom, he went on to fight against some of the top fighters — and defeated several of them — before ending his UFC career with a 17-9 record.

TMZ reported that after he retired from the UFC in 2012, at which point White inducted him into the Hall of Fame, Bonnar went on to briefly wrestle professionally as well as fight in the Bellator MMA series.

The 2005 Bonnar-Griffin match arguably saved UFC, boosted popularity

The MMA Fighting website reported that the importance of Bonnar’s 2005 fight with Griffin can’t be understated in terms of the impact it had not just on Bonnar’s career but the sport more broadly.

Though Bonnar lost that three-round bout with Griffin in a close decision, it had been such a great match that it convinced Spike TV, which had not yet renewed “The Ultimate Fighter” competition show, to immediately agree to not just a second season but also a long-term broadcast deal that helped bolster the previously diminishing popularity of the mixed martial arts sport.

In fact, it has been argued that if the 2005 TUF finale between Bonnar and Griffin had involved any other pairing of fighters, including either Bonnar or Griffin matched up against anybody else, the fight would not have been as good, the show would have been canceled, no long-term broadcast deal would have been offered to the UFC, and the now-hugely popular sport would conceivably have faded away into obscurity.

“Everything changed” following the fight with Griffin

“I knew it was a good fight during the fight,” Bonnar previously said of his famed fight with Griffin, according to the UFC. “It hit me when everyone started stomping their feet and it felt like the whole place was shaking. And that was in the second round. I was like ‘oooh, this must be good.'”

“Everything changed” for him after that fight, he recalled. “I didn’t think I’d have a UFC career. It was just a little hobby I was doing, so it changed everything. Almost overnight, I became like a celebrity. Everywhere I went, someone would recognize me, even in obscure places.”

“It was kind of a little lesson,” Bonnar added of that bout. “If you never quit, you really can’t fail. That was the perfect example of that. Give it everything you’ve got and something good will come out of it.”

According to TMZ, Bonnar is survived by his wife, Andrea, and their son, Griffin. He will also certainly be missed by his fans, friends, and former competitors.

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