Stephan Bonnar’s sudden death came as a huge shock to the MMA community.
Tributes from current and former fighters poured in online as they reacted to the death of Ultimate Fighter 1 finalist and UFC Hall of Famer at 45.
Many pointed to Bonnar’s status as a pillar in the history of the sport; his fight with Forrest Griffin at The Ultimate Fighter 1 Finale is widely credited for saving the UFC at a time when it was losing money.
The UFC announced on Saturday that Bonnar died of “presumed heart complications.” A separate law enforcement source told MMA Fighting Bonnar died on Dec. 22. The official cause of his death is pending.
Check out fighter’s reaction to Bonnar’s death.
The first time I ever heard of mixed martial arts was when I was 14 and saw the first ultimate fighter. That started the dream that led me to where I am today. The finale between Stephan and Forrest saved the UFC from going under. R.I.P pic.twitter.com/vtR9wkmxCF— Kyle The Monster Nelson (@THE__MONSTER) December 24, 2022
Heard about this early this morning. Truly a heartbreaking loss. So very sad. Thoughts are with his family. https://t.co/jXZLNKQBbf— michael (@bisping) December 24, 2022
RIP to the American Pyscho, Stephan Bonnar. I remember watching him and Anderson Silva.— Jake Paul (@jakepaul) December 24, 2022
From what I’ve read, without him and Forrest Griffin, UFC may have not made it.
My condolences go out to Stephan Bonnar’s family. His fight with Forrest Griffin changed the landscape of the sport of MMA and pushed it to the next level. He’s a big part of the reason we are here today. https://t.co/NtGaVAN96M— Michael Chiesa (@MikeMav22) December 24, 2022
Rest In Peace to the man who helped keep the sport alive! Prayers up for your friends, and family! pic.twitter.com/07XsCvUIn5— Cody Durden (@Cody_Durden) December 24, 2022
Stephan Bonnar vs Forrest Griffin was the first mma fight I ever watched, and it completely changed my life.— Megan Anderson (@MeganAnderson) December 24, 2022
It is so incredibly heartbreaking to hear the news of Stephan's passing. Another one gone too soon. My thoughts are with his family during this time pic.twitter.com/1wa2oz1s6H