So, you want to be an Ultimate Fighter?
Those were the words echoed on this date (4/9) in 2005, when Stephan Bonnar and Forrest Griffin faced one another in the finale of the first season of The Ultimate Fighter. Griffin won the bout via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28), winning the light heavyweight tournament and a a contract with the UFC.
The bout was a real turning point for the UFC, who were on their last legs in terms of getting people to invest in the product. It more or less saved the UFC to become the international sensation it is today. Check out the above video to watch history in the making.
It was Team Chuck Liddell v. Team Randy Couture, but it was the names outside of the legends that really stuck out. Both fighters started the bout by swinging right away. The first round was nonstop action, with rights by Griffin (19-7) and Bonnar (15-9) kicking. Griffin used a ground game but Bonnar stormed back with shots to the face and hit a few left, right combinations. In a sport that rarely had highlights last long, the first round was a masterpiece.
The second round saw Griffin get cut on the nose badly thanks to solid shots by Bonnar. Bonnar ended up throwing big knees while Griffin utilized the jab. You could see right away how tired these fighters were, but the fans were cheering them on in order to keep the energy flowing.
Round three saw kicks by both fighters, until a jumping knee by Griffin pushed Bonnar back. Griffin put Bonnar by the cage and both just continued to pound one another. Bonnar hit a heel kick and a straight right. In the last 20 seconds, both fighters just gave it their all as everyone in the Cox Pavilion in Las Vegas were on their feet.
While Griffin won, Bonnar also got a contract by Dana White. Griffin ended up winning the UFC Light Heavyweight Championship. Bonnar fought a few more years before becoming a pro wrestler. They did face one another in a rematch in 2006, with Griffin coming out on top once again.
As for the UFC, they became a true sensation afterward, earning a Spike TV deal. The rest as they say, is history.