Bonnar Granted UFC Contract After Close Decision

By Press Release Apr 11, 2005
Bonnar granted UFC contract after close decision LAS VEGAS, NEV.-- Forrest Griffin out-pointed Stephan Bonnar to win a unanimous decision in the light heavyweight division, while Diego Sanchez registered a convincing technical knockout over Kenny Florian in the middleweight class as a sold-out Cox Pavilion saw both Griffin and Sanchez claim the title of ‘The Ultimate Fighter’ in Saturday’s live final episode of the Spike TV reality show, The Ultimate Fighter™.

Both fights were preludes to the main event, in which rising star Rich Franklin defeated UFC legend Ken Shamrock by technical knockout to move his overall mixed martial arts record to 19-1.

After their wins, Griffin and Sanchez were awarded six-figure UFC contracts and various prizes. A post-fight consultation among UFC officials resulted in a contract for Bonnar as well.

Twelve other fighters comprised the undercard, as Sam Hoger, Chris Leben, Josh Koscheck, Nate Quarry and Mike Swick came away from the Octagon as winners.

The telecast—the first-ever live showing of a UFC event on cable television—will be shown again on Spike TV on Sunday, April 10, at 10 p.m. EDT and on Monday, April 11, at 11 p.m. EDT.

The UFC’s next event will be UFC 52: Couture vs. Liddell 2 LIVE on pay-per-view at 10 p.m. EDT, Saturday, April 16, at the MGM Grand Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, Nev., when the TUF coaches meet in the main event for Couture’s light heavyweight title.


Light Heavyweight Main Event

It was a big night for Franklin (19-1-0) from Cincinnati, Ohio, who defeated UFC legend Shamrock (26-9-2) from San Diego, Ca., by technical knockout at the 2:44 mark of the first round. Franklin escaped an arm bar and an ankle lock before Shamrock attempted a right kick. He slipped and Franklin pounced in Shamrock’s guard and finished the fight with a flurry of strikes. Shamrock could not defend himself and referee John McCarthy stopped the fight.

“It was an honor to fight him (Shamrock),” said Franklin. “I plan on staying at 185 pounds, in the middleweight division.”

“It was great to be here on network TV,” said Shamrock. “If I had won, I go on. If I lose, then you build another star off me. But I was happy to step in against Rich. He’s got a great attitude.”

The Ultimate Fighter™ Light Heavyweight Final

In what the UFC’s top executives, officials, fighters and fans agreed was one of the best fights in UFC history, Griffin (10-2-0) from Athens, Ga., out pointed Bonnar (9-2-0) from Chicago, Ill., to win a unanimous decision and the title of The Ultimate Fighter™ in the light heavyweight division. But both fighters became winners when Zuffa, LLC awarded each a six-figure fight contract with the UFC. The action in the Octagon was non-stop as both fighters scored in all three rounds with strikes, kicks and ground action. But all three judges scored it 29-28 in Griffin’s favor.

“I had no idea what I did to pull this out,” said Griffin. “I like to fight just like that—swinging for the fences. I thought he would shoot and take me down, but he’s a Golden Glove boxer and he stayed up. We had a great fight.”

“This fight was like I predicted,” said Bonnar. “I worked a lot on my footwork. I know a couple of times I really caught him. I thought he was done, but he wouldn’t drop.”

The Ultimate Fighter™ Middleweight Final

Sanchez (15-0-0) from Albuquerque, N.M., became The Ultimate Fighter™ in the middleweight division with a convincing technical knockout over Florian (4-2-0) from Boston, Mass. Sanchez, a submission wrestler and boxer, took Florian to the ground after the first minute and dominated with powerful strikes. He opened a cut over Florian’s nose and referee John McCarthy stopped it at the 2:49 mark of the first round.

“My coach really got me mentally strong for this fight,” said Sanchez. “I felt it was my destiny to win. I know I caught him with one really good shot and broke his nose. Whether I fight at 170 or 185, this is my life.”

In preliminary fights:

Hoger (5-0-0), a light heavyweight from Davenport, Iowa, won a three-round unanimous decision over Bobby Southworth (8-4-0) from Santa Cruz, Ca., with a well-rounded attack. Both fighters scored in the first round with strikes, kicks and ground and pound, but Hoger got the upper hand throughout and continued to dominate the last two rounds. He clinched it in the third with a strong ground and pound attack.

Bad blood from the TV show played a big role in the Leben-Jason Thacker middleweight match. Leben had ridiculed Thacker during the show, especially when he was eliminated and Thacker was looking for payback. He came out fast and hit Leben (17-1-0) from Portland,Ore, with a solid right that stopped him in his tracks. But Leben, a Couture protégé, quickly used his Team Quest ground and pound experience to win a TKO. Thacker’s record fell to 4-2-0. Leben then apologized to Thacker for his behavior in the show’s second episode.

In a middleweight bout, Koscheck (5-0-0) from Buffalo, NY, escaped a strong leg lock from Chris Sanford (5-1-0) from San Francisco, Ca., then went to work with elbow strikes and punches to win a TKO at the 4:21 mark of the first round.

“I knew he had good leg locks and he almost had me. But, I got going and finally got it done,” said Koschek, who wants to fight as a welterweight (170 pounds in the UFC).

Quarry (12-1-0) from Gresham, Ore., who did not fight in the TV show due to an ankle injury, went to work fast and won a TKO over Lodune Sincaid (15-3-0) from N. Hollywood, Ca., at the 3:17 mark of round one. Both middleweights exchanged strikes and kicks before Quarry landed a hard right to the body followed by a left hook and another powerful kick to end it.

In light heavyweight action, Swick (7-1-0) from San Jose, Ca., did exactly as he predicted.

“I will knock him out fast,” he said of Alex Schoenauer (10-1-0) from Las Vegas, Nev., and Swick did it in just 20 seconds of the first round with a flurry of powerful left and right-hand strikes.

In the show’s first bout, a strong right-hand strike from Karalexis knocked out Josh Rafferty at the 1:40 mark of the first round. Karalexis (5-0-0) from Las Vegas, Nev., got into Rafferty’s (7-4-0) from Cincinnati, Ohio, guard and rained down strikes. “His eyes rolled back and I knew he was out,” Karalexis said.
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