Stephan Bonnar, UFC Hall of Famer, Dead at 45

Stephan Bonnar, a UFC legend who was inducted into the league's Hall of Fame in 2013, died last week, UFC announced this past weekend. He was 45 years old. The cause of death wasn't officially announced, but it is believed that Bonnar died from "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 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."  

Bonnar's fight with Griffin came in 2005 during the finale of the reality series The Ultimate Fighter. Bonnar lost the match via unanimous decision, but UFC named the match the Fight of the Year for 2005 and he earned a contract with the company. From there, Bonnar would face the likes of Jon Jones, Rashad Evans, Anderson Silva and Griffin in a rematch. 

"Everything changed," Bonnar said. "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. I was traveling with TapouT and we were in a small town. I was jogging and someone in a pickup was going 'Hey Bonnar.' And everywhere you go, someone knows who you are. It was wild."   

UFC commentator Joe Rogan paid tribute to Bonnar via social media. "RIP to one of the most important figures in the explosion of MMA," Rogan wrote. "Stephan Bonnar and Forrest Griffin engaged in a battle on Spike TV in 2005 that was so wild, and so entertaining that it changed the course of the UFC and the sport of Mixed Martial Arts forever. You will not be forgotten."

Bonnar's last mixed martial arts (MMA) match was in 2014 when he lost to Ortiz at Bellator 131. He then went on to spend some time in professional wrestling, making appearances at multiple independent shows and Impact wrestling in 2017 and 2019. Bonnar was born and raised in Indiana and had an extensive background in martial arts.