Forrest Griffin vs. Stephan Bonnar

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Forrest Griffin vs. Stephan Bonnar is a duo of fights starting in the finals of The Ultimate Fighter 1 contest which received national acclaim, and was highly regarded among fans as one of the most exciting, greatest and memorable fights in the history of not only the UFC, but MMA in general. The bout was voted fight of the year by a poll of over 19,000 readers of the website MMAWeekly.com,[1] and was recognized as the 2005 Shoot Match of the Year by the Wrestling Observer Newsletter. The fight was credited by Dana White as the "most important fight in UFC history".[2] The fight was also voted the greatest fight in UFC history in 2009.[3]

Background[edit]

The first season of The Ultimate Fighter reality television show featured sixteen mixed martial artists divided into two weight classes: middleweight and light heavyweight. Coaches Randy Couture and Chuck Liddell were selected to mentor the contestants.[4] The contestants were distributed evenly between two teams, and a series of exhibition matches were held until only two fighters from each weight class remained. The finalists appeared on national television in the show finale and competed for a contract with the UFC.

Forrest Griffin, coached by Chuck Liddell, and Stephan Bonnar, coached by Randy Couture, met in the light heavyweight final.[5]

Both fighters defeated two opponents to make it to the final. On episode seven, Stephan Bonnar defeated Bobby Southworth from Team Liddell in a split decision.[6] On episode nine, Forrest Griffin defeated his first opponent, Alex Schoenauer, by TKO.[6] In the semi-finals, the contestants fought the remaining teammate in their respective weight class to determine the finalists. Forrest Griffin defeated Sam Hoger by TKO; Stephan Bonnar defeated teammate Mike Swick by triangle choke / armbar submission.[6]

The Ultimate Fighter Finale[edit]

Date April 9, 2005
Title(s) on the line TUF 1 Light Heavyweight Division Champion

United States Forrest Griffin vs. United States Stephan Bonnar
American Psycho
Tale of the tape
Augusta, Georgia From Munster, Indiana
9-2 Pre-fight record 9-1
Recognition

Result Both fighters receive 6 figure contract

The finale was held at the Cox Pavilion in Las Vegas, Nevada on April 9, 2005[7] and was broadcast nationally on Spike TV. It was refereed by Herb Dean and was slated for three 5-minute rounds, the standard UFC format for non-title fights.

Neither fighter offered to "touch gloves" (a gesture of sportsmanship) as the fight began. Both fighters exchanged punches and the occasional low kick, with Griffin gaining a slight advantage (according to color commentator Joe Rogan). The first round ended with no clear winner. Rogan called the first round the "Hagler-Hearns" of mixed martial arts history (alluding to a famous boxing bout between Marvin Hagler and Thomas Hearns, known as The War).

Early in the second round, a jab by Bonnar created a cut on Griffin's nose, prompting the referee to stop the fight so a doctor could check the cut and clear Griffin to continue. He was cleared, and the fight continued as Bonnar controlled Griffin with a Muay Thai clinch and delivered several knees to Griffin's face. The round ended with Griffin failing a takedown attempt, and Bonnar defending Griffin's offensive Thai clinch.

In the third and final round, Griffin started with low kicks and punches; Bonnar attempted to counterattack from a distance. Griffin delivered several knees from the Thai clinch. Mid-round, Bonnar landed several short punches while infighting. However, Bonnar counterattacked only when opportunities were present. The round ended with Griffin holding Bonnar in a Thai clinch and attacking with knees, followed by a short exchange of punches.

All three judges scored the fight 29-28 in favor of the winner, Forrest Griffin, but because of Stephan Bonnar's outstanding performance, Dana White also granted Stephan a UFC contract on the spot.[7]

The UFC awarded Griffin a contract, as well as a Scion car, a dirt bike, and an Audemars Piguet watch.[8]

Aftermath[edit]

The UFC also awarded Stephan Bonnar a contract due to his performance in the octagon. In the months following the fight, Griffin and Bonnar would often be mentioned alongside one another. At the finale of TUF 2, for example, Dana White said of the Welterweight finals, "...in my opinion, ladies and gentlemen, that was Stephan Bonnar and Forrest Griffin, only on the ground."

Spike TV hosted a segment on their website entitled "He Said / He Said," featuring both Forrest Griffin and Stephan Bonnar. The two fighters voiced their opinions and analysis of the The Ultimate Fighter 2 on an episode-by-episode basis. The feature continued for the next two seasons.

In July 2013, Griffin and Bonnar were inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame.

UFC 62: The rematch[edit]

Date August 26, 2006
Title(s) on the line

United States Forrest Griffin vs. United States Stephan Bonnar
American Psycho
Tale of the tape
Columbus, Ohio From Munster, Indiana
12-3 Pre-fight record 10-3
Winner of The Ultimate Fighter Recognition

Result Griffin wins by Unanimous Decision

The rematch took place at UFC 62 on August 26, 2006. The referee for the bout was Steve Mazzagatti.

In the first round, Griffin used his jab to keep Bonnar at a distance; Bonnar waited for counterpunching opportunities, opting at one point to attempt a spinning back kick. Eddie Bravo, the unofficial, commentator table judge, scored the first round in favor of Forrest Griffin. In the second round, Bonnar engaged more frequently in striking exchanges with Griffin. Bravo scored the round for Griffin. In the third round, Bonnar began landing more strikes but Griffin finished the round by landing right hands.

All three ringside judges scored the match 30-27 for Forrest Griffin.[9]

Drug testing[edit]

After UFC 62, Bonnar tested positive for the banned substance Boldenone, a type of anabolic steroid. The commission issued a 9-month suspension on Bonnar's fighter's license and fined him $5,000.[10] Spike TV released Bonnar from his duties as a broadcaster on SpikeTV.com; the popular "He Said / He Said" segment disappeared from the website. UFC President Dana White voiced his support of the commission's investigation while remaining empathetic to Bonnar's cause.[11]

References[edit]

External links[edit]