Former undisputed UFC light heavyweight champion, Forrest Griffin has reacted to the recent passing of his fellow The Ultimate Fighter 1 finalist and two-time professional opponent, Stephan Bonnar at the age of 45 last week, explaining how he always love the former.

Forrest Griffin twice fought Stephan Bonnar under the UFC banner

Griffin, who featured alongside Bonnar on the inaugural season of The Ultimate Fighter back in 2005, eventually making it to that season’s finale, where Griffin would score a unanimous decision victory. The bout has since been credited with bringing the sport of mixed martial arts and the UFC in particular.

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In August of 2006 – a year removed from their remarkable TUF 1 matchup, Griffin would again defeat Bonnar, landing another unanimous decision victory on the UFC 62 card.

Last week, reports emerged detailing how Indiana native, Bonnar had passed away at the age of 45 due to heart complications, with the mixed martial arts community issuing heartfelt tributes and offering condolences to Bonnar’s friends and family. 

UFC color commentator, Joe Rogan led the line of tributes, describing the late Bonnar as a legend.

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“We lost a real legend,” Joe Rogan posted on his official Instagram account, accompanied by a picture of Stephan Bonnar at The Ultimate Fighter 1 finale back in 2005. “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.”

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Reacting to the news of Bonnar’s sad passing last week, Griffin described the former as a “friend” and explained how he would always miss him.

“Stephan was a lot of things,” Forrest Griffin tweeted. “He was always the most interesting person in the room, he had the biggest heart and most importantly, he was my friend. I always loved it that people got excited when they found out we were really friends. I’ll always miss you, brother.”