Stephan Bonnar’s sudden passing late last year came as a shock to many MMA fans. The longtime UFC veteran had had his share of struggles outside the cage, but at just 45-years-old, his death was sudden and unexpected.
At the time, the UFC reported that the Hall of Fame inductee had died “from presumed heart complications while at work.” No further updates or statements were given, beyond confirmation of his death.
However, MMA Fighting has since confirmed with the Nevada Clark County coroner’s office that Bonnar’s death was due to accidental “Fentanyl, Parafluorofentanyl and Mitragynine intoxication.” To put it more bluntly, a fentanyl overdose. No other details were provided.
Stephan Bonnar suffered a severe back injury in 2021
Among the struggles that Stephan Bonnar had been facing in recent years, were longstanding injuries from his fighting and later his pro-wrestling careers. The ‘American Psycho’ had apparently badly injured his back in a 2021 show on the indie wrestling circuit. That injury had led to a staph infection which Bonnar said nearly cost him his life.
“My condition pretty much deteriorated over the next couple of days” Bonnar said in an interview at the time after a video of an incident between the former fighter and hospital staff went viral. “It was, like, four or five days to where I couldn’t get up, down, nothing. I couldn’t move. I was in so much pain.
“It’s been ten days since the original injury and it’s way worse. I’m swollen everywhere and the pain’s worse, like, something’s wrong. That night, I went to the E.R. Had someone take me, and luckily… I was in such bad shape, they just pulled me in the wheelchair and went and took my blood.”
The UFC inducted Bonnar & Griffin into their Hall of Fame in 2013
While Stephan Bonnar never competed for a UFC title after making it to the finals of the first season of the Ultimate Fighter, Dana White always gave a huge amount of credit to Bonnar and his co-finalist, Forrest Griffin, as a major turning point in the promotion’s success story.
Bonnar and Griffin emerged together as apparent next-gen stars off the Ultimate Fighter Season 1, where both men came off as relatable, affable figures, who just happened to love insane brawls. Their TUF finale bout created a pre-social media viral sensation, causing a ratings boom for the UFC that they credit with helping secure future TV rights deals that put the promotion on firm financial footing.
“Stephan Bonnar was one of the most important fighters to ever compete in the Octagon,” Dana White said in the UFC’s press release upon his death. “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.”
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