The ultimate fighter 1 Finalist Stefan Bonnar has passed away at the age of 45.
The UFC announced Bonnar’s death on Saturday, and a separate law enforcement source with knowledge of the situation confirmed that MMA Fighting Bonnar died on Dec. 22. The person declined to be named because he is not authorized to speak publicly about the case.
Bonnar’s official cause of death is pending, but in the UFC announcement it was stated that it was due to “presumed cardiac complications”.
The UFC family was saddened by the passing of UFC Hall of Famer Stefan Bonnar. We send our deepest condolences to his family and friends.
– UFC (ufc) December 24, 2022
Bonnar has faced a series of personal challenges in recent years, most recently the destruction of his Las Vegas home in April. Bonnar’s wife, Andrea Brown, posted on Facebook that the couple had “lost everything” in the fire.
A subsequent fundraiser raised more than $10,000 for the retired fighter, who was able to move into new accommodation thanks to a generous donation from former UFC welterweight champion Tyron Woodley.
In September 2021, Bonnar caused a stir when he posted several videos on Instagram of a heated confrontation in the hospital. He later explained to MMA Fighting that he was seeking treatment for a serious injury he sustained while professional wrestling and claimed that doctors denied him care due to his stance on COVID-19. In a later interview, he said that doctors at a different facility detected a potentially life-threatening staph infection that required intravenous antibiotics and a long recovery period.
Bonnar burst onto the scene as a cast member of the ground-breaking reality show describing the lives of upcoming MMA fighters. He made the finals of the show and fought Forrest Griffin. The ensuing agitation sent the viewership of UFC announcer, Spike, skyrocketing. While Bonnar lost a unanimous decision, he was awarded a UFC contract by UFC President Dana White, who later credited the bout for single-handedly saving the promotion at a time when it was hemorrhaging money.
Bonnar and Griffin were inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame in July 2013 for their fight. The two would face off in the Octagon for one year after the pivotal match, with Griffin again losing by decision.
A jiu-jitsu specialist with a penchant for overpowering, Bonnar had a nine-year career in the Ultimate Fighting Championship where he fought many past and future champions, including Griffin, Rashad Evans, Jon Jones, Mark Coleman and Anderson Silva.
After leaving the UFC, he came out of retirement in 2014 to do a one-on-one fight with Tito Ortiz under the Bellator banner. He lost via split decision and later moved on to professional wrestling, working with several regional promotions.
Bonnar has been open about the damage from his MMA career, saying his decision to hang up the gloves was influenced by the discovery of an enlarged labial septum, which has been linked to a possible future diagnosis of CTE.
After suffering a severe back injury that left him in the hospital, he told MMA Fighting that he was done with professional competition.
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