Stephan Bonnar was a retired UFC star who died at the age of 45 on December 22, 2022. His death was made public on December 24. Bonnar’s cause of death was heart complications, The Athletic reported.
“Stephan Bonnar was one of the most important fighters to ever compete in the Octagon,” said UFC President Dana White in a statement posted to the UFC’s website. “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.”
An official cause of death for Bonnar has not been released.
Here’s what you need to know:
The UFC Confirmed Bonnar’s Death on Its Twitter Page
In a statement posted to its Twitter page, the UFC confirmed Bonnar’s death. “The UFC family is saddened by the passing of UFC Hall of Famer Stephan Bonnar. We send our sincerest condolences to his family and friends,” the UFC wrote.
ESPN reported that Bonnar died “at work.” More details were not announced, including about the nature of that work.
People left comments on Bonnar’s Facebook page. “Another athlete in their 40’s dies from heart issues. So very sad, and all to common in the last couple of years. Prayers for his family and friends” wrote one.
“Your fights and the generation it led saved the world of mixed martial arts. Safe home,” wrote another.
“May he rest well. He was a big part of where the MMA game is at now… Thank you Stephan for all those amazing fights through the years… A legend,” a man wrote.
“So sad,just can’t believe it.😞😥You’ll be remembered as a great fighter and a good man with a wonderful sense of humor and a great heart.You gave us wonderful moments. R.I.P.,” wrote another.
The UFC Called Bonnar a ‘Pioneering Competitor’
The UFC memorialized Bonnar as “a pioneering competitor who introduced himself to UFC fans on season one of ‘The Ultimate Fighter’ in 2005, Bonnar teamed up with Forrest Griffin at the show’s finale to produce one of the greatest fights of all-time, later earning it a place in the UFC Hall of Fame’s fight wing.”
“I knew it was a good fight during the fight,” Bonnar once said, 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
According to the UFC, “Bonnar’s career highlights didn’t end there, as the Indiana native thrilled fans for the next seven years, defeating the likes of James Irvin, Keith Jardine, Krzysztof Soszynski, Igor Pokrajac, and Kyle Kingsbury.”
See the full UFC statement here.
“A legend! Very sad news. The UFC would be so different without that first ultimate fighter season,” a fan wrote on Bonnar’s Facebook page.
“I met him at a wedding once. He was funny and full of life. One of the reasons the UFC exploded in the early 2000s. An absolute legend,” wrote another.