The Tragic Death Of UFC Star Stephan Bonnar

On December 22, 2022, MMA and wrestling star Stephan Bonnar died at the age of 45, UFC confirmed on Instagram. "Stephan Bonnar was one of the most important fighters to ever compete in the Octagon," UFC President Dana White said in an official statement. "His fight with Forrest Griffin changed the sport forever, and he will never be forgotten. The fans loved him, related to him and he always gave them his best. He will be missed." Though an official cause of death is yet to be released, Daily Mail reports that the UFC star died from complications of the heart.

With a career spanning two decades, Bonnar has undoubtedly left a lasting legacy in the wrestling and UFC scene. In April 2005, Bonnar had arguably the most important fight of his career — a drag-out fight with MMA star Forrest Griffin, which has now come to be regarded as one of the most legendary fights in UFC history. Not only did this fight stir UFC in a new direction, but it also changed the course of Bonnar's career. "Everything changed," Bonnar once said. "Almost overnight, I became like a celebrity. Everywhere I went, someone would recognize me, even in obscure places."

In the years that followed that fight, Bonnar continued to rack up more success, ultimately making a name for himself as a legend. Sadly, with his sudden death, Bonnar has left a huge void in the UFC industry — a void that will be felt by his fans and loved ones alike.

Fans of Stephan Bonnar are paying their respects

Since news of the UFC alum's tragic death broke, fans have continued to pay their respects to Stephan Bonnar. "May this legend rest in peace, the UFC would not be where it's at today without his involvement in this masterpiece," one Twitter user wrote, referencing Bonnar's 2005 fight with Forrest Griffin. "What a shock and sad to hear! A true pioneer of modern MMA in the U.S. and a great human more so," another fan commented. A third person tweeted: "Absolutely shocked and devastated to hear this news [...] he will remain a legend, my condolences to his family at this difficult time."

Several of his colleagues in wrestling and UFC have also paid tributes in the wake of Bonnar's death. YouTube creator and pro wrestler Jake Paul recounted watching Bonnar in a tweet, adding, "From what I've read, without him and Forrest Griffin, UFC may have not made it." Scott D'Amore, a former wrestler and the current Executive Vice President of Impact Wrestling, also described Bonnar as a legendary fighter and an all-round amazing person. "I feel blessed to have had his friendship. RIP to a HoF human being," he added.

Bonnar leaves behind Andrea Brown, his wife of 13 years with whom he shares a son, Griffin, per TMZ.