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The three-round slugfest between Forrest Griffin and Stephan Bonnar at “The Ultimate Fighter 1” Finale on April 9, 2005 is shrouded in legend—a mythical moment to the droves of fans whose love affair with MMA began that night, as well as in the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s official history.
Plenty has been written about that fight already—and it remains to this day a rousing, enjoyable re-watch—but it is worth noting that the Griffin-Bonnar fight was neither the main event that night nor was it the only “Ultimate Fighter” final. Just before Griffin and Bonnar squared off, Diego Sanchez had pounded out Kenny Florian to win the middleweight tournament and accompanying “six-figure UFC contract.” Even more forgettable, Griffin and Bonnar’s instant classic was followed by a light heavyweight bout between Rich Franklin and Ken Shamrock. The Franklin-Shamrock fight was an ultra-low stakes affair—Franklin was already known to be dropping to middleweight to challenge for the title after that fight—and ended so anticlimactically that some forum types accused Shamrock of throwing the bout. Ridiculous though that may be, it reflects just how disappointing the so-called main event was in comparison to the game-changing fight that had gone on just before it.
Also of note was just how loaded that event was when taken in its entirety. Griffin would of course go on to win a UFC belt; and of the 16 cast members who fought that night, half of them logged at least 10 fights in the UFC: Griffin, Bonnar, Sanchez, Florian, Chris Leben, Josh Koscheck, Nate Quarry and Mike Swick. Most would become fixtures in the Top 10 of their divisions, while Sanchez, Florian and Koscheck all challenged for titles.
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