Many consider the Ultimate Fighter Season One Finale as the most important UFC fight in history. A battle between Forrest Griffin and Stephen Bonnar decided who would win the Ultimate Fighter and a contract with the UFC. Not only did this launch the career for both men, but also it allowed the UFC to become the global company it is now.
The Ultimate Fighter is a reality TV show that brings mixed martial arts fighters to live in a house together and train and fight to determine who will receive a contract with the UFC. The competition narrowed down to two fighters, Forrest and Stephen. These two guys were just your regular people that loved the sport and were fighting on the side. Stephen appears as an average Joe from Chicago Illinois who trains other people at a gym while living at home with his supportive girlfriend. From Athens Georgia, Forrest loves the grueling fights where you bleed and demolish the other opponent. He prefers black eyes because he says it is a nice conversation starter. A contract with the UFC is a once in a lifetime opportunity so these two men left everything they had in the Octagon.
In front of their friends, family, coaches, and celebrities, Forrest and Griffin went off to create one of the greatest fights in history. Round one begins with both men are in the feeling process measuring punches and kicks. Forrest gets the better of Bonnar with his right hand hooks and jabs. The two fighters stay in the pocket and trade punches. The quick intensity energizes the crowd. Bonnar got rocked and seemed to be losing the round, but came back with his own aggressive combination and heavy hands. Forrest pushed back and ended the first round with top control on the ground and an armbar submission attempt.
Round two picks up with Bonnar throwing a barrage of strikes at Forrest. Griffin takes Bonnar down and both men are punching each other on the ground. A cut on the nose of Forrest starts bleeding and the blood covers Griffin’s face. The referee, Herb Dean, stops the fight and calls for a doctor to check the cut. The doctor cleans the blood, looks at the cut and tells Herb to continue. Bonnar now charges at Griffin with his energy all saved up and attempts to worsen the cut. Relentless punches come from Bonnar as Griffin manages to sneak his shots in. Against the cage, Griffin grabs a hold of Bonnar’s neck and connects with Muay Thai knees. Bonnar escapes and delivers his own Muay Thai knees, which forces Griffin to tie up and avoid getting knocked out. Both men are exhausted and look up at the clock to see how much time is left. The two fighters continue to punish one another until the referee finally breaks it up.
Everyone in the arena is now on their feet waiting for this brutal fight to continue. The two fighters stand up from their stools breathing heavily. Round three begins. The hearts of both fighters now determines who wins the fight. Knees from Griffin rock Bonnar while Bonnar’s right and left hooks continue to stun Griffin. Back and forth. Back and forth. The fight is so close the commentators are unsure who is winning. They both swing for the fences in the last few minutes and now the judges will determine who has won this insane war.
Nothing but applause, smiles, and shocked faces from the crowd. The fighters give salute to the fans and hug their trainers and coaches. Forrest Griffin is crowned as the Ultimate Fighter. With such a performance from both fighters, Bonnar was awarded a contract as well.
This fight was a nonstop back and forth show that entertained fans and gave birth to the popularity of MMA. Dana White has said, “Nobody knows more than me how much that fight meant. For us, that fight meant everything, and I never forget it.” Now, the UFC has a network deal with Fox and has exploded into a global sensation. People from Brazil, England, Ireland, and other countries now train and watch the sport in hopes of becoming the next ultimate fighter.