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Forrest Griffin vs. Stephan Bonnar II - Griffin-Bonnar II - UFC 62

By Cliff Montgomery, ExtremeProSports.com
Ask practically any UFC fan what he considers to be the best fight of the last few years, and without even blinking he is sure to reply: "the fight between Forrest Griffin and Stephan Bonnar" (The Ultimate Fighter's first season finale). This first contest between quick fan favorites Forrest Griffin and Stephan Bonnar received national acclaim, and was even voted 2005's "fight of the year" by a poll of over 19,000 readers of the website MMAWeekly.com.

You can bet that Griffin-Bonnar II will be an exciting fight.

In case you haven't heard, they're about to fight once more. On June 16th, 2006, MMANews.com reported that Griffin and Bonnar would again meet inside the octagon for their much-anticipated rematch at UFC 62.

UFC 62: Liddell vs. Sobral is an upcoming Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) event scheduled for Saturday, August 26, 2006, at the Mandalay Bay Events Center, in Las Vegas, Nevada. As is true with all UFC spectacles, UFC 62 will be broadcast live on pay-per-view both in the United States and Canada.

Anyone who wonders why we're talking about this rematch didn't see that amazing first bout between these two great fighters. If ever there was a fight which literally made two UFC stars, this was it.

Bonnar and Griffin first came to national attention as only two of sixteen MMA fighters on the first season of The Ultimate Fighter 'reality' show on Spike TV. After overcoming a series of exhausting challenges and whipping all their opponents, Forrest Griffin and Stephan Bonnar arrived at the Cox Pavilion in Las Vegas, Nevada on April 9, 2005 to compete in what some would call the most exciting and memorable fight in UFC's short history.

The bout was a standard, non-title UFC match of three 5-minute rounds refereed by Herb Dean.

So how did it go? The first round saw both fighters engaging aggressively; neither fighter offered the good will gesture of "touching gloves" at the beginning of the bout. Both fighters exchanged a number of punches and an occasional low kick, with the round ending in a brutal kickboxing stalemate between Griffin and Bonnar. The first round ended without a clear-cut winner.

Commentator Joe Rogan aptly called the first round the "Hagler-Hearns" of UFC fights (in reference to the famous 1980s boxing bout between Marvin Hagler and Thomas Hearns, known as 'The War').

In the second round, Bonnar began going on the offensive and getting the better of Griffin. Early in the round, a jab by Bonnar created a deep cut on Griffin's nose, prompting the referee to pause the fight. A doctor quickly checked the wound, and cleared Griffin to continue.

As the round wore on, Bonnar continued to hold some striking advantage over his more fatigued opponent, primarily through several knees to Griffin's face and body as Bonnar gripped him in a strong Muay Thai hold. The round ended with Griffin failing at a takedown attempt, and Bonnar fighting off Griffin's own Thai hold.

At first the third and final round looked as if it may be an echo of the second. A deeply tired Griffin gave some good low kicks and punches, though Bonnar maintained a counterattack from a distance. But tired as he was, Griffin kept the pressure on Bonnar, delivering several knees from a Thai clinch.

Perhaps sensing that the fight may slip away, Bonnar increased his activity in the middle part of the round, and countered with a number of close, short punches. But Griffin's "never say die" attitude was beginning to pay off, forcing Bonnar into more of a counterattack mode as the third round wore on.

There was no clear win for either side during this round. It ended with two very tired but very determined and talented men battering the living hell out of each other.

As there was no conclusion to the fight inside the three-round time limit, the decision was left up to the ringside judges, who all scored the close fight 29-28, in favor of Forrest Griffin. As happens in such a close, hard-fought match, many in the crowd responded with mixed reactions.

Griffin won a contract with the Ultimate Fighting Championship, as well as a brand new Scion car, a dirt bike, and an expensive watch to boot. But UFC president Dana White decided that Bonnar's incredible performance could not remain un-rewarded; in a move worthy of a movie script, White declared that the UFC was rewarding Bonnar a contract as well. Whatever prompted White to this action, it was the right decision.

Could there be the same sparks in Griffin vs. Bonnar II? One year on, their UFC records are strikingly similar--each registers 12 wins and three losses. And boxing has certainly shown that some fighting duos are simply meant to combat one another--Ali vs. Frazier, Robinson vs. LaMotta. Forrest Griffin and Stephan Bonnar may well be two such warriors.

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