MMA legend Stephan Bonnar dead at 45

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

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

A legend in the world of martial arts, “The American Psycho” Bonnar served as one half of the fight for turning around a then-struggling UFC. Although he lost that fight to Forrest Griffin in “The Ultimate Fighter 1 Finale” in April 2005, his influence was felt for generations. Eventually, the fight was inducted into the Fight Wing of the UFC Hall of Fame in 2013.

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

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

He went 2-2 over the next four with losses to Rashad Evans and Griffin, followed by wins over Mark Nickals and Eric Schaefer. Bonnar then went on a three fight streak with defeats to Jon Jones, Marc Coleman and Krzysztof Soszynski. He won a rematch against Soszynski before defeating Igor Pokrajac and Kyle Kingsbury.

His loss to Anderson Silva in a main event at UFC 153 was his final fight for the promotion. Bonnar left the promotion after failing a drug test and called for retirement. However, he re-entered the competition to fight Bellator’s Tito Ortiz in 2014 and lost by split decision.

Bonnar was in the headlines intermittently after his last MMA fight. In 2019, he competed in Impact Wrestling after two years of building up the independent professional wrestling circuit. In 2020, Bonnar briefly entered the MMA circuit as a corner for TUF 1 competitor Diego Sanchez. In April 2022, Bonnar had more fights outside the cage when his house burned down.

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

Cub Swanson

Cody Garbrandt

Anthony Pettis

Belal Muhammad

Arnold Allen

Billy Quarantillo


Kenny Florian

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