Joe Rogan delivered a heartfelt tribute after the sudden death of 45-year-old UFC Hall of Famer Stephan Bonnar. Bonnar, who was instrumental in putting the UFC on the map, passed away due to heart issues, leaving the MMA world shocked and mourning.
UFC released the news of his passing yesterday. He actually passed away on the 22nd from presumed heart issues.
UFC commentator Joe Rogan penned a heartfelt tribute on his social media:
“We lost a real legend. RIP to one of the most important figures in the explosion of MMA. Stephan Bonnar and Forrest Griffin engaged in a battle on Spike TV in 2005 that was so wild, and so entertaining that it changed the course of the UFC and the sport of Mixed Martial Arts forever. You will not be forgotten.”
Here, Rogan is referring to the iconic clash between Stephan Bonnar and Forrest Griffin at the TUF 1 finale at UFC 62, which is considered to be one of the greatest fights in MMA history.
The 15-minute banger saw the two young and similarly matched competitors willing to give it their all for a chance to get a UFC contract. Griffin was victorious, but both were praised in the end.
Rogan was the color commentator that night and has spoken before about the insane atmosphere that he experienced during the event.
He once stated in an interview:
“People were calling up their friends and were, ‘Dude you gotta watch this, there’s this crazy fight going on, these two white guys are beating the f**k out of each other.’ And the estimation was that there was as many as 8 million people watching this fight. It was unfathomable. That was the birth of modern MMA — that was the fight that put it on the map.”
He also claimed that there were around “8 million people watching this fight” live.
Bonnar made a lasting impression with his UFC run, bringing a lot of fans to the promotion and saving the promotion from going bankrupt.
After this, the Ultimate Fighter series became one of top rated reality programs and introduced a whole new generation of fans into the world of mixed martial arts.
Hence there’s no surprise that Dana White named it as the “most important fight in UFC history”. In fact, White and the Fertittas were so impressed that they awarded both Bonnar and Griffin with UFC contracts.