MMA Legend and Pioneer Stephan Bonnar Dead At 45

Stephan Bonnar
Stephan Bonnar. Credit: UFC

UFC Hall of Famer and MMA pioneer Stephan Bonnar passed away on Dec. 22 due to heart complications while at work. He was 45.

The UFC announced his passing on Saturday.

UFC president Dana White released a statement saying,” Stephan Bonnar was one of the most important fighters to ever compete in the Octagon. His fight with Forrest Griffin changes the sport forever, and he will never be forgotten. The fans loves him, related to him, and he always gave them his best. He will be missed.”

Bonnar was one half of the fight White has credited many times over as the one bout that saved the UFC and changed the sport. He faced Griffin in the “The Ultimate Fighter 1 Finale” in 2005. The winner was to be awarded a UFC contract, and even though he lost the bout that night, he was awarded a contract as well.

In the octagon Bonnar faced many soon-to-be legends such as Griffin, Rashad Evans, Jon Jones, and Anderson Silva. He then took on Tito Ortiz in at Bellator 131 in 2014 which would end up being his last professional bout.

In recent years Bonnar has been in and out of the headlines between a short stint in pro wrestling, legal issues, his home burning down and a return to MMA when he cornered Diego Sanchez.

In the end Bonnar will be remembered as a big reason for why the sport is where it is today, for where the UFC is today, and ultimately for being a pioneer of the sport we’ve all grown to love.

RIP Stephan Bonnar.