clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Stephan Bonnar becomes the 10th UFC Hall of Famer to go into pro wrestling

New, comments

Stephan Bonnar will become a 40-year-old pro wrestling rookie when he faces former UFC fighter Matt Riddle on a show in New York.

Gallery Photo: UFC 153 Open Workout Photos
Stephan Bonnar during his UFC 153 open workout in 2012.
Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

UFC Hall of Famer Stephan Bonnar will be the latest of many to take the path of MMA headliner to pro wrestler when he makes his debut in August.

Bonnar will be a 40-year-old rookie in his new endeavor, when he debuts in the main event of a show called "High Intensity 6" on Aug. 18 at the NYC Arena in the Jamaica neighborhood of Queens, N.Y., for the House of Glory wrestling promotion. Bonnar will be facing Matt Riddle, another former UFC star who was the 2016 pro wrestling Rookie of the Year and one of the most talked about newcomers to enter American pro wrestling in years.

Bonnar will become the 10th member of the UFC Hall of Fame to go into pro wrestling, following Ken Shamrock, Dan Severn (who still does occasional matches at 59 years old), Mark Coleman (Japan), Tito Ortiz (Impact Wrestling), Bas Rutten (New Japan Pro Wrestling), Don Frye (New Japan Pro Wrestling), Maurice Smith (RINGS), Kazushi Sakuraba (New Japan Pro Wrestling) and Frank Trigg (Impact Wrestling).

Bonnar, a member of the cast of the first season of The Ultimate Fighter reality show, which put UFC on the sports map, is best known for his April 9, 2005 fight with Forrest Griffin in the light heavyweight finals. To this day, this fight is often called the most important fight in UFC history, and one of its best brawls ever. It was the highlight fight on UFC’s first live television show on Spike TV, an ultra-successful event which resulted in UFC live events getting regular live TV slots.

Bonnar remained a UFC regular through 2012, retiring after a loss to Anderson Silva in a pay-per-view main event in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and a subsequent drug-test failure for the steroid Drostanolone on the day of the show.

He came back for one last fight, finishing his career with a 15-9 record, a split decision loss to Ortiz on what was at the time Bellator’s most successful televised event on Nov. 15, 2014.

Bonnar is among a recent influx of MMA fighters into pro wrestling, which includes recently suspended UFC fighter Tom Lawlor and Phil Baroni, who has done several wrestling matches over the years in Japan.

They join Shayna Baszler, another former UFC fighter who has been on the pro wrestling independent circuit in the U.S., as well as wrestling for Stardom, the leading women's pro wrestling organization in the world. Baszler recently taped a series of matches for World Wrestling Entertainment's Mae Young Classic tournament that will air over the next several weeks on the WWE's streaming network. She made it to the finals of the tournament that will take place live on Sept. 12 in Las Vegas at the Thomas & Mack Center as part of a live television show.

Josh Barnett, another suspended UFC fighter, has done matches of late in both Japan and California, as well as with Impact Wrestling, including a program with Bobby Lashley, a Bellator fighter. Baszler's longtime training partner, Jessamyn Duke, who is still on the UFC active roster, but has been fighting in Invicta, has been training for pro wrestling of late with WWE's Brian Kendrick.

Bonnar's connection with pro wrestling includes being a sparring partner who helped former pro wrestling headliner Dave Bautista, now a movie star in the recurring role of Drax the Destroyer in the "Guardians of the Galaxy" series, when Bautista did his lone MMA fight in 2012.