This was the first finale of the The Ultimate Fighter, which took place in Las Vegas, NV, at the Cox Pavilion on April 9, 2005. Forrest Griffin would be taking on “The American Psycho”, Stephan Bonnar, for an exclusive, 6-figure UFC contract.
The Ultimate Fighter, was the first reality show to feature up-and-coming MMA fighters. Up to the finale, the ratings for the show, which was broadcast on Spike TV, had been good but not overwhelming.
Round 1: Both Griffin and Bonnar meet in the center of the Octagon. They both start attempting punches, just kind of feeling each other out. Neither one lands anything significant for the first couple of minutes. They both continue throwing both punches and kicks, and Griffin throws the more significant strikes. Bonnar stays on the outside while Griffin is the aggressor, landing more punches and a few leg kicks.
At the 3:10 mark, both guys start trading haymakers right in the center of the Octagon, neither one backing down. The crowd is going crazy at this point, loving the efforts being put out by Griffin and Bonnar.
Bonnar finally tries to create distance between the two, and Griffin stalks relentlessly, still throwing haymakers. Bonnar gets a hold of Griffin, and takes him down. Seconds later, Griffin is able to stand back up. They go back to the center of the Octagon and start swinging wildly. Griffin is able to get Bonnar down during the last minute, and stays in top position for the remainder of the round. The horn sounds and the crowd gives a standing ovation.
Round 2: They meet back in the center, this time a little slower. They start feeling each other out with punches and kicks. Bonnar gets aggressive and starts throwing bombs. Griffin gets a hold of him and takes him to the ground. A few seconds later Bonnar is able to get back to his feet. They both start swinging wildly in the center, and the crowd goes crazy. They seem more tired this round, but they continue to push forward. Griffin is bleeding profusely from his nose and ref Herb Dean pauses the action to have a doctor check it out. They look at it briefly and let the fight continue.
They continue punching, throwing knees at each other, clinching, and attempting takedowns on each other. Both Griffin and Bonnar are giving it everything they have, and the crowd shows it’s appreciation. During the last 30 seconds both fighters look extremely tired, but still continue swinging away. The horn sounds, and both men go to their corners. It doesn’t seem like either one has anything left in the gas tank, but one more round will follow.
Round 3: Final round, everyone is screaming and clapping. They meet in the center, looking more tired than ever. They both start landing leg kicks on each other. They start trying to land punches, with no one really landing anything damaging. Both men look very tired, but continue swinging with everything left in them. Griffin throws 6 or 7 wild punches that lands, but with no major damage.
They both continue circling throughout the round, throwing more punches than anything else. Griffin seems to be getting the better of the exchanges, but Bonnar is very game, answering every punch that Griffin throws. At 1:00 left, the crowd stands for another ovation, as Griffin and Bonnar continue trading in the center like there’s no tomorrow. They are completely exhausted, but nevertheless they swing for the fences with every punch. There’s only one UFC contract, and these fighters are doing everything in their power to get it.
Finally the round ends, both men raise their hands, then embrace and shake hands in the spirit of good sportsmanship. Now the final decision is left to the judges. After deliberating, the judges decide that the winner of this fight is Forrest Griffin, and he is the first Ultimate Fighter. He gets the contract to fight in the UFC.
As if the fight wasn’t exciting enough, in an incredible twist, Dana White is so impressed with both fighters, he awards Stephan Bonnar a UFC contract too. An incredible end to an epic bout.
This fight would go on to be the number one fan favorite, out of the top 100 fights in the UFC. At the end of this fight, they discovered that the ratings had gone through the roof. This one performance on Spike TV would change the Ultimate Fighting Championship forever, and make legends out of Forrest Griffin and Stephan Bonnar.