Former UFC light-heavyweight Stephan Bonnar pictured in 2011
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UFC Hall of Famer Stephan Bonnar has died at the age of 45 after suffering from ‘presumed’ heart complications.
The American died on Thursday 22 December, the UFC announced on Saturday (24 December).
“The UFC family is saddened by the tragic passing of UFC Hall of Famer Stephan Bonnar [on] Thursday from presumed heart complications while at work,” read an official statement from the mixed martial arts promotion.
Bonnar made his professional MMA debut in 2001, before fighting in the UFC between 2004 and 2012. He then retired in 2014 after a single bout in Bellator.
Bonnar’s first appearance in front of a UFC crowd came during the first season of the television show The Ultimate Fighter. In the season finale, Bonnar was outpointed by Forrest Griffin while challenging his compatriot for the light-heavyweight title. The fight is widely considered a pivotal moment for the UFC, sparking a period of significant growth among the company’s audience.
Bonnar went on to compile a 15-9 professional record, facing UFC greats Anderson Silva, Jon Jones and Rashad Evans along the way – as well as Griffin a second time, and another UFC champion in Tito Ortiz. Bonnar achieved three of his pro wins via knockout/TKO, seven by submission, and five via decision.
“Stephan Bonnar was one of the most important fighters to ever compete in the Octagon,” said UFC President Dana White on Saturday.
“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.”
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