The Ultimate Fighter Season 1 Finale of three years ago tonight was historical. It was the first ever live UFC event on Cable TV (Spike) and had near two million viewers. Not a single one of those viewers was disappointed either when two light heavyweights Forrest Griffin and Stephan Bonnar battled it out for a multi-fight UFC contract stretching into six-figures.
The two traded punches back and forth again and again. They showed guts, determination, toughness, skill, heart. The fight was almost fictional, like a Rocky vs. Rocky, but it was one hundred percent real and it happened on the UFC's biggest stage to date.
The effects were almost immediate. Pay per view numbers had hovered between 100,000 and 150,000 prior to the Finale, but jumped to almost 300,000 at UFC 52 one week after. And the numbers continued to climb.
So obviously the night, highlighted by the Griffin/Bonnar fight was important for the sport, but how good was the fight itself?
UFC president Dana White called it, "The greatest fight in UFC History." Afterward, even though Forrest Griffin won the decision, he gave both men the six figure contract.
UFC fighter Din Thomas stated, "It put MMA on the map."
A Spike TV special called TUFfest 25 moments which aired on October 23, 2007 chose the fight as the best moment of the show's six seasons.
Sherdog columnist Mike Sloan called it, "...arguably the greatest example of fistic bravery and drama probably ever inside the Octagon." In the same article he also stated, "If Griffin-Bonnar didn't perform the duty of creating new fans by competing in a back-and-forth war, then MMA in America is doomed. If that didn't work, nothing will; it's as simple as that."
Fortunately Mike it did work! This day three years ago went along ways in lifting mixed martial arts to a whole new level of popularity. Many will look back on the history of the sport and consider the Griffin/Bonnar fight pivotal, a defining moment for the UFC and MMA in general. And it took place on this day April 9th of 2005.