Longtime Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) light heavyweight veteran, Stephan Bonnar, will forever be remembered, and perhaps immortalized, for kick-starting the mixed martial arts (MMA) boom as one half of the original Ultimate Fighter (TUF) finale main event on Spike TV.
In defeat, he became famous.
Ironically, Bonnar would once again become the springboard for a future 205-pound champion, as "The American Psycho" was paired off with a relatively unknown 21-year-old prospect named Jon Jones as part of the UFC 94 pay-per-view (PPV) in early 2009.
It was a sophomore appearance for "Bones," who just six months prior, decisioned Andre Gusmao in his Octagon debut.
Bonnar was coming off a tumultuous time in his career following consecutive losses and a positive test for anabolic steroids (Boldenone). He managed to right the ship and polish off his next two opponents, but a knee injury shelved him for over a year.
After a long and painful rehab, the Taekwondo black belt took the stage at the "St. Pierre vs. Penn 2" fight card in Las Vegas, having never been knocked out or submitted. When the dust had settled and the smoke had cleared, Jones left "Sin City" the victor, but would later refer to Bonnar as "the toughest fight of his career."
Round one underway with a touch of gloves and the third youngest fighter in the UFC (at that time) opens with a wild overhand right that misses. Spinning back kick finds the gut and Bonnar backpedals. Jones lazily pushes forward with a front kick and it gets caught, leading to a tie-up and eventual clinch.
They struggle, briefly, before Bonnar gets rag-dolled and dumped to the floor.
"The American Psycho" muscles his way back up and gets a second helping of takedown in the off-chance that his first one didn't resonate. Undeterred, he once again musters up the oompha to rise and break away. Two leg kicks go wide and Jones initiates a clinch before ducking under and popping up to grab his opponent's back.
Then, the suplex.
Bonnar gets his shoulder blades driven to the floor and when he tries to regain his footing, Jones spins around with an elbow that connects with a sickening thud. Bonnar collapses. "Bones" dives into guard for the finish but can't secure it. Inexplicably, the former TUF guy makes it back to his feet, but eats a knee and gets taken down as time expires.
"Outstanding first round for Jon Jones," remarks cageside commentator Joe Rogan.
Two minutes into the second stanza and "Bones" has already connected on a spinning back kick and secured two takedowns. The future champ hangs out in half guard and tries to work the elbows but Bonnar is proving to be difficult to handle on the ground and fights his way back to his feet.
Jones begins showing signs of fatigue.
Bonnar uses the pace to his advantage and pushes Jones into the cage. Using dead weight to maintain position, "The American Psycho" resorts to dirty boxing where he successfully lands a series of uppercuts before getting pushed off. "Bones" looks up at the clock and his opponent rushes him, only to get souffled by a brilliant throw.
Future fodder Mauricio Rua is shown sitting cageside, flashing the obligatory fist pump (he should have been taking notes).
Round three opens with Jones on his bicycle. Bonnar, much to the surprise of Rogan, initiates the clinch. It works. The uppercut continues to find a home on his winded foe. A "good right hand" causes a stir in the announcer's booth but "Bones" answers with a knee to the dome.
Three minutes left to fight.
A sweaty and exhausted Bonnar tries a trip takedown, but Jones reverses and lands on top. The Endicott native tries to sneak in a rest but "The American Psycho" spoils those plans with a triangle choke that does not secure the submission, but creates the space necessary to get him back to the upright position.
Less than a minute to go.
With victory a foregone conclusion, Jones spends the remainder of the final frame circling to his right to stay out of harm's way. Bonnar makes a concerted effort to chase him down and does manage to drive him into the cage for a few moments, but it's too little, too late.
Stephan Bonnar loses to Jon Jones, but becomes the "Terminator" when "Bones" moves on to finish eight of his next nine foes while capturing the light heavyweight championship.
Now, it's Terminator 2: "Judgement Day."
That's because Bonnar has the opportunity to try and survive against another division champion, Anderson Silva, who moves up from middleweight to fight "The American Psycho" at UFC 153 this Saturday night (Oct. 13, 2012) at the HSBC Arena in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Can he once again make history?
And this time, do it inside the win column?