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Forrest Griffin and Stephan Bonnar named to UFC Hall of Fame

Esther Lin photo

LAS VEGAS -- Former UFC light heavyweight champion Forrest Griffin's retirement was announced at Saturday night's UFC 160 post-fight press conference. But that wasn't the only surprise in store on the evening.

Later at the MGM Grand, UFC president Dana White let slip that both Griffin and Stephan Bonnar will be named to the UFC Hall of Fame at the UFC Fan Expo in Las Vegas on Fourth of July weekend, leading up to UFC 162.

"They're going in together," White said. "Those two are going to be together for the rest of their lives."

The duo will forever be linked for their matchup in "The Ultimate Fighter 1" Finale on April 9, 2005 in Las Vegas. The back-and-forth slugfest, held on the company's first live Spike TV special, is considered a historic turning point in the company's growth.

Griffin won the back-and-forth light heavyweight finale via unanimous decision, taking 29-28 cards across the board. White has often referred to the Griffin-Bonnar fight as a before-and-after point in the company's efforts to establish itself.

Griffin (19-7) went on to the more successful career of the two, which peaked at UFC 86 on July 5, 2008 in Las Vegas, where he won a unanimous decision over Quinton "Rampage" Jackson to win the UFC light heavyweight title. Griffin lost the title to Rashad Evans in his first title defense five months later at UFC 92.

Other highlights of Griffin's career included his famed trilogy with Tito Ortiz, in which Ortiz won the first fight and Griffin took the last two. The final Griffin-Ortiz fight, at UFC 148 on July 7, 2012, turned out to be both fighters' last bout. Griffin won on a split decision.

Other notable wins in Griffin's career include Chael Sonnen in 2003, a UFC 61 rematch win over Bonnar via unanimous decision, and a major upset of Maurico "Shogun" Rua at UFC 76 in Anaheim.

For his part, Griffin called the TUF 1 Finale the biggest moment of his career. "I'd rank the fight with Stephan in the TUF Finale No. 1, and winning the title was No. 2," Griffin said.

Bonnar (15-8), meanwhile, did not reach Griffin's level of success, essentially logging a journeyman's career. His career included fights against six men who have held UFC titles (Jones, Griffin, Lyoto Machida, Rashad Evans, Mark Coleman, and Anderson Silva).

Bonnar's last career fight was a first-round loss to Anderson Silva at UFC 153, which was taken on three weeks' notice. After the fight, Bonnar tested positive for banned substances, the second steroid-related test failure of his career.

Griffin and Bonnar will join current honorees Royce Gracie, Ken Shamrock, Dan Severn, Randy Couture, Mark Coleman, Chuck Liddell, Charles "Mask" Lewis, Matt Hughes, and Ortiz. While Griffin and Bonnar's resumes don't match most of those inducted, it's clear they're being named for the impact of their first fight.

White said he hadn't yet spoken to Bonnar about the induction.

"I haven't talked to him yet," White said. "He'll find out [about the Hall of Fame induction] through you guys." Regarding Bonnar's recent steroid bust, White said "I'm over it."

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