MMA legend Stephan Bonnar dies at the age of 45

UFC Hall of Famer Stephan Bonnar, who made history as a finalist on the first season of “The Ultimate Fighter”, has passed away. He was 45 years old.

The UFC announced the news on SaturdayChristmas Eve, and cited heart complications at work as the cause of Bonnar’s death, which occurred on Thursday.

A legend in the world of mixed martial arts, “The American Psycho” Bonnar served as one half of the fight and is credited with turning the then-struggling UFC around. Although he lost in “The Ultimate Fighter 1 Finale” against Forrest Griffin in April 2005, the effects were felt for generations to come. The bout was eventually inducted into the Fight Wing of the UFC Hall of Fame in 2013.

“Stephen Bonner 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 will never be forgotten. Fans loved him, related to him and always gave their best to him. he will be missed.”

Bonnar competed 26 times as a professional, including 15 UFC appearances and one for Bellator. He made his pro debut in 2001 with his UFC debut after eight fights. Bonner entered the UFC at 7–1, and although he lost the fight to Griffin, he won his next three fights.

They split their next four at 2–2 with losses to Rashad Evans and Griffin, and later wins over Mark Nicklaus and Eric Schaefer. Bonner then went on a three-fight skid defeating Jon Jones, Mark Coleman and Krzysztof Soszynski. He won a rematch against Soszynski before defeating Igor Pokrjak and Kyle Kingsbury.

A loss to Anderson Silva in the makeshift UFC 153 main event was his final bout for the promotion. Bonnar parted ways with the promotion after failing a drug test and claiming retirement. However, he re-entered competition in 2014 to fight Tito Ortiz at Bellator and lost by split decision.

Bonnar has been in the limelight intermittently since his final MMA bout. In 2019, he competed for Impact Wrestling after two years building on the independent pro wrestling circuit. In 2020, Bonnar briefly reappeared on the MMA circuit as a cornerman for fellow TUF 1 competitor Diego Sanchez. In April 2022, Bonnar had to struggle further outside the cage when his house burned down.

Throughout the MMA community, Bonnar was a beloved figure for his tenacity and importance to the sport. Many fighters, promoters, fans and loved ones flocked to social media on Saturday to mourn the loss of the UFC pioneer.

Scroll down to see some of those reactions.

Jake Paul

Ariel Helwani

Renato Moicano

Aaron Bronstetter

Michael Chiesa

mike bohn

Kyle Nelson

Megan Anderson

John McCarthy

Ben Rothwell

megan olive

simon stuff

cubs swanson

Cody Garbrandt

Anthony Pettis

Belal Muhammad

Arnold Allen

Billy Quarantillo

caposa

Kenny Florian

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