When Dana White talked the Fertitta Brothers into buying the UFC, he essentially saved the sport in America.
Say what you will about Dana White, but what he has done for mixed martial arts cannot be appreciated enough.
He has all the detractors that come with a man of his position and bearing, and he takes it all in stride, never seeming to forget about the “little guy” who comes up to him, sometimes shyly, heaping praise. In return, he gives his time with an easy smile, and usually some free tickets.
He does this because he loves the sport as much as any one, and he loves the fans, because he is a passionate man. He had to be to contend with all the obstacles put in his way while building the company into the unheralded powerhouse it is today.
But passion has a flip side.
What Dana White loves, he loves, and what he hates, he hates.
In this case, what he hates is a man named Frank Shamrock.
For Shamrock, the feeling is mutual. It is relatively unclear as to why Dana White and Frank Shamrock dislike each other so harshly, but they do, as both have made plainly clear in the media.
Be that as it may, Dana White and the UFC Hall of Fame cannot be taken seriously until fighters like Frank Shamrock receive their induction.
The UFC Hall of Fame would seem to stand for the recognition of those fighters who represent hallmark achievement in the sport and with the company. They are men that espoused all the chief virtues Dana White prizes in fighters.
And Frank Shamrock fulfills all of those prerequisites, with a vengeance.
Here is a breakdown of Frank Shamrock’s time in the UFC, and a clear-cut argument as to why he belongs in the UFC Hall of Fame, no matter if Dana White likes him or not.
The first middleweight title bout in the history of the company happened in Japan, at UFC Japan, all those years ago.
It was also Frank Shamrock’s first fight with the company.
His opponent was Olympic wrestling gold medalist Kevin Jackson, who had blown through all of his prior UFC opposition and was heavily favored to win.
In less than 30 seconds, Frank Shamrock secured an armbar after a powerful double-leg takedown by Jackson, crowning Frank Shamrock as the first-ever middleweight champion of the UFC.
In his first title defense, Shamrock was pitted against Extreme Fighting Champion Igor Zinoviev in what was widely considered by many as a title unification bout.
Zinoviev was tough, gritty and experienced, and Frank Shamrock rendered all of those points moot, picking Zinoviev up high above the canvas and slamming him down to the mat, knocking him out could.
Once again, Frank Shamrock had finished a highly touted opponent in less than 30 seconds, and many thought him to be unstoppable.
In his second title defense at UFC 17, Shamrock squared off against relatively unknown MFC fighter Jeremy Horn.
Horn was on point that night, dominating Shamrock in surprising fashion. While he wasn’t giving Shamrock a beating, he was clearly winning the fight.
But Shamrock showed his poise and secured the victory off a Jeremy Horn takedown.
Horn spun Shamrock to the mat in a takedown, but Shamrock grabbed one of Horn’s legs and secured a kneebar victory.
In his third title defense, Shamrock was given a chance to avenge a previous loss to John Lober.
In their first fight, Lober defeated Shamrock via split decision.
The rematch, held at the company's first-ever show in Brazil, had more than enough bad blood behind it. Lober had said he was going to destroy Frank Shamrock, and said it often.
When the fight was over, it was Frank Shamrock who had destroyed Lober.
Shamrock was in control of virtually every aspect of the fight, showing superior grappling and striking.
The end came with Lober on his back, Shamrock standing over him, hammering him in the face with punches.
It was the first really big fight the company had seen since Frank’s older adopted brother, Ken Shamrock, had fought Royce Gracie at UFC 5.
Tito had a great deal of momentum behind him, having defeated two of Frank’s former Lions Den teammates, Jerry Bohlander and Guy Mezger.
The fight lived up to all the hype and expectations, and more.
Ortiz won the first three rounds by using his considerable size and strength advantage, taking Shamrock down and trying to pound him out.
But holding down Shamrock wasn’t easy. Frank continued to move and work from the bottom, never giving Ortiz time to rest.
In the fourth round, Ortiz began to fade.
Shamrock managed to reverse Ortiz, then attacked him with punches when both men got to their feet. In a moment of panic, Ortiz shot in for a takedown, leaving his neck exposed.
But Shamrock didn’t go for the obvious submission right away. He paused, as if to let Ortiz think he was safe to recover, then he locked in a guillotine choke.
Ortiz tried to post in order to relieve the pressure, and they wound up rolling over, giving Shamrock the top position.
Shamrock stood over Ortiz, raining down strikes until Tito tapped the mat, exhausted and battered.
After that fight, Shamrock retired from the UFC.
During his time with the UFC, Frank Shamrock never let a fight go to the judges and he never walked away from an opponent: two ideals that Dana White has shouted from the rooftops on several occasions.
Before his time in the UFC, Frank Shamrock won the King of Pancrase title, and during his time with that organization, he beat fighters like Bas Rutten, Minoru Suzuki and Masakatsu Funaki.
Another memorable bout that occurred before Frank entered the UFC was his war with Enson Inoue. It began slow but built to a fever pitch, ending when Shamrock dropped Inoue with a brutal knee to the chin. Frank followed Enson down, dropping punches, which prompted Enson’s brother, Egan, to rush into the ring and knock Shamrock aside.
Frank Shamrock was the first real cross-trained, ultra-conditioned MMA fighter; a prototype for current champions like Georges St. Pierre. He was a gifted grappler who turned into a surprisingly good striker thanks to his partnership with Maurice Smith.
He was one of the key figures in the success of the Lions Den, and he is a true icon of the sport. When the pressure was on, he was at his best—as fierce and unrelenting as he was calculating and cunning.
Until Frank Shamrock is inducted, the UFC Hall of Fame will sadly be reduced to nothing more than a vanity exercise built to serve the whims of one man.
And as big and important as Dana White is, he is not bigger than the sport.