The wrestling world has joined the world of MMA in paying tribute to former UFC star Stephan Bonnar after his death aged 45.
Stephan Bonnar burst onto the UFC scene back in 2005 when he took part in the season one finale of The Ultimate Fighter. Bonnar stepped into the Octagon with Forrest Griffin in the light heavyweight final to earn a UFC contract and it is no exaggeration to say what followed changed the course of UFC history.
Bonnar and Griffin went on to compete in three five-minute rounds of some of the most memorable MMA ever witnessed. Griffin won the bout via unanimous decision but such was the performance of both men that UFC boss Dana White offered runner-up Stephan Bonnar a UFC contract on the spot. Bonnar was inducted into the Fight Wing of the UFC Hall of Fame for the bout in 2013.
Bonnar’s UFC career ended in 2012 after a loss to Anderson Silva but he did return to action for Bellator two years after where he lost in a split decision to Tito Ortiz.
The American Psycho later joined the world of pro wrestling, competing on three occasions for IMPACT Wrestling – including a Six Sides of Steel match at Bound for Glory 2017 where he teamed with Moose in a losing effort against King Mo and Bobby Lashley.
Bonnar’s last outing in a wrestling ring came in August 2021 when he unsuccessfully challenged Nick Aldis for the NWA Worlds Heavyweight Championship.
With news of Bonnar’s tragic death breaking just a few days before Christmas, many in the world of pro wrestling have paid their own tribute to Stephan Bonnar on social media.
— Tommy Dreamer (@THETOMMYDREAMER) December 25, 2022
R.I.P to Stephan Bonnar. He was always a ton of fun, gone too soon but will never be forgotten! Thanks for the memories 🙏 pic.twitter.com/ALa8SdyT6f
— FILTHY トム・ローラー (@FilthyTomLawlor) December 26, 2022
Really sad news about Stephan Bonnar. He'll be remembered the most for the fight with Forrest Griffin. Everyone who saw that fight will always remember where they were that night. Always very nice to deal with, at least for me.
— Dave Meltzer (@davemeltzerWON) December 25, 2022
I did a few shows w/Stephan Bonnar. Such a nice/real dude.
I remember a curtain sell out for his match at @BLabelPro once. He hit a random “Street Fighter Guile” jumping spin kick out of nowhere. Biggest pop I’ve ever seen from the boys.
Oh & he saved UFC too.
RIP to a legend.
— Josh Alexander (@Walking_Weapon) December 25, 2022
We're deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Stephan Bonnar. We offer our deepest condolences to his friends and family at this difficult time. pic.twitter.com/ZSYLjkslPf
— IMPACT (@IMPACTWRESTLING) December 25, 2022