White finds it easy to justify Bonnar’s spot in UFC shrine

There was never a bit of hesitation by UFC president Dana White on whether to induct Las Vegan Stephan Bonnar into the organization’s Hall of Fame.

Bonnar was enshrined along with Forrest Griffin on Saturday as part of the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s annual Fight Week festivities.

Griffin and Bonnar are forever linked by their classic 2005 fight in “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 1 final. The slugfest famously drew higher ratings as the fight wore on and is largely credited with igniting the organization from a money pit to an international success story.

“Nobody knows more than me how much that fight meant,” White said. “For us, that fight meant everything, and I never forget it.”

There were some fans and media who expressed dismay at a fighter who finished his UFC career 8-7, never won a title and had two positive steroid tests earning a Hall of Fame nod.

“I don’t think people realize, really, really realize, what that one fight meant to this sport and this company. I look at it as I’m inducting Forrest, and Stephan goes with him,” White said. “It wasn’t just Forrest. Both of those guys took us to this next level. He’s being inducted for that one fight that took this thing to the next level.”

White relayed a story about just how close the fight was to not happening at all. It was the first season of the reality show, and White and the producers had taken alcohol out of the house because of a few incidents.

Bonnar decided to climb out the window of the bathroom while pretending to take a shower and try to walk to a liquor store. The house was in a remote part of Southern Highlands and there was nothing around back in 2005.

“He could have walked for four (expletive) days and never gotten to a liquor store. He comes back two hours later and climbs through the window again, where everybody is standing there waiting for him,” White said. “I was going to kick him off the show. I was going to kick him off — and I didn’t. Imagine if I had kicked Stephan Bonnar off the show that day, and him and Forrest never happened.”

Bonnar, who named his son Griffin Bonnar because of the connection between the two fighters, said he was honored by the induction after a trying year that included his retirement and the second of his positive tests.

“Thanks … for letting me be part of this organization, because ever since I saw this for the first time, ever since 2004 the UFC’s been my life,” Bonnar said during his speech.

■ PPV CARDS ANNOUNCED — The UFC announced four major fight cards for the rest of 2013, plus an international press tour to hype the events.

Jon Jones will defend the light heavyweight belt against top contender Alexander Gustafsson in the main event of UFC 165 in Toronto on Sept. 21. Heavyweight champ Cain Velasquez will put the belt on the line against former champion Junior dos Santos at UFC 166 in Houston on Oct. 19.

Two major cards at the MGM Grand Garden close out the 2013 schedule.

Welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre defends the belt against Johny Hendricks at UFC 167 on Nov. 16. The card will serve as the UFC’s 20th anniversary event of UFC 1, which took place in November 1993.

Ronda Rousey, the women’s bantamweight champion, will risk her title against bitter rival Miesha Tate at UFC 168 on Dec. 28. The two are serving as opposing coaches in the current season of “The Ultimate Fighter,” which starts airing in September.

A promotional tour, consisting of media and fan events and all of the featured fighters, will begin July 29. Tour stops are scheduled in New York, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, London, Rio de Janeiro and Stockholm, among other cities.

■ SORRY, VITOR — White indicated that Vitor Belfort would not be getting a shot at new middleweight champion Chris Weidman, regardless of all the lobbying he has been doing.

Belfort has won two straight fights by knockout after stepping up to light heavyweight and losing to Jon Jones in a title bout. Belfort’s only other loss since 2006 was a title loss to Anderson Silva in 2011.

Now he wants another shot at the belt. White said that’s not likely to happen. His preference is obviously to make a rematch between Silva and Weidman.

“Vitor’s going to have to wait. He’s not getting the rematch. He can text, he can tweet, he can writing (expletive) letters, he can call his congressman, he can do whatever he wants to do, He’s going to have to wait,” White said. “Anderson Silva’s getting the rematch.”

■ INVICTA PPV — All-female organization Invicta Fights will offer its event live on pay per view Saturday for the first time. The card, which features a main event between former Strikeforce champions Marloes Coenen and Cris Cyborg, airs live at 6 p.m.

Contact reporter Adam Hill at ahill@reviewjournal.com or 702-224-5509. Follow him on Twitter: @adamhilllvrj.

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