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Forrest Griffin, Stephan Bonnar reminisce about ER visit, their ill-fated rematch and Viagra


Forrest Griffin and Stephan Bonnar were not friends before their historic fight at the Ultimate Fighter 1 Finale. They actually barely even spoke to each other on the first season of the UFC's reality show.

"Why get close to the guy?" Griffin told Ariel Helwani on Monday's edition of The MMA Hour. "He's on the other team. You know some time you're gonna end up fighting him."

Of course, that did end up happening. April 9 marks the 10-year anniversary of the classic battle between the two men that changed the course of MMA history. Without Griffin and Bonnar tearing down the house at Cox Pavilion in Las Vegas, there might not have been an Ultimate Fighter season two. And without that, there might not be a UFC today.

Griffin and Bonnar waxed nostalgic on The MMA Hour, mostly about their relationship, which was actually forged at first inside the Octagon and then in the emergency room afterward.

He was like two [beds] over, so I was just walked over and was like, 'Hey man what's up? What you got?' I was like, 'Dude you messed my nose up,'" Griffin said.

The two have been friends ever since, so much so that Bonnar named his son Griffin in honor of his partner in combat.

Griffin won that night 10 years ago by unanimous decision. But there were really no losers. Both men earned UFC contracts, because the fight was that good. It still goes down as one of the greatest in UFC history.

"Honestly I knew it was close, so I knew it was kind of a toss up," Bonnar said. "I knew there was a chance I could get the nod. When he got the nod, I can't even say I was that disappointed.

"I was genuinely happy for him. He fought a great fight. I said that right afterwards."

Before UFC president Dana White announced both men would earn contracts, Bonnar was already thinking about life after fighting. At that point, there were very few fighters in the UFC and Bonnar felt like this was his only shot to make it.

"[I thought], now what am I gonna do with my life?" Bonnar said. "This was a good experience. I had fun, but time to move on. I was kind of thinking about what I was gonna do next outside of fighting. It kind of caught me by surprise."

The two went on to have very solid careers and both men were inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame in part because of that magical night. Griffin, 35, won the light heavyweight title in 2008. Bonnar, 38, compiled a solid 8-7 record in the UFC over seven years. Both are retired now, but Bonnar fell to Tito Ortiz in Bellator last November. It's doubtful he'll return unless something very interesting comes along, he said.

The back-and-forth fight will forever be part of their legacies. It was wild and violent, yet still holds up as a fantastic fight today a decade later. Griffin came out hot, but admittedly tired badly in the second round only to be saved by a stoppage to check out a bloody cut.

"I absolutely gassed," Griffin said. "I was done in that second round. I felt great in that first round. I felt sharp, I felt quick.

"The stoppage for blood was the best thing that happened to me. I was so gassed."

The two fought again a year later and the bout could not produce the fireworks the first did. Griffin and Bonnar both have regrets about that one, even taking it in the first place. They were asked on short notice. Griffin said he had to cancel a USO tour and Bonnar needed elbow surgery.

It got worse 10 days out of the fight. Bonnar got cut in training and needed 12 stitches. He was flown out to Las Vegas by the UFC and doctors told him he couldn't compete. A few days later, though, Bonnar was drinking at a Cubs game with his father and White called him -- the UFC really needed the rematch to go down at UFC 62.

"Then I was like, 'Eh, what the hell?" Bonnar said. "[The cut] was another concern in the fight. Oh I don't want him to bust this cut open. I better not be too aggressive."

Even if the second bout didn't live up to the lofty expectations the two will always have the TUF 1 Finale. And the ER afterward.

"Hanging out in the emergency room, I really remember that," Bonnar said. "I had never tried Viagra before and Forrest gave me some."

Griffin laughed.

"That was a long time ago," he said, "before I met my wife."

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