For all intents and purposes, the UFC's Hall of Fame isn't a real thing. Not like the hallowed halls of other sports. All of them have buildings, the places you can actually visit to see the roots of the sport you love and express your fandom by seeing heroes of yesteryear.
There is no such place for the UFC Hall of Fame. Not yet, anyway. And there's no set criteria.
If Lorenzo Fertitta and Dana White believe you should be in the Hall, well, you'll be in the Hall. There's no voting rights handed out to media or fellow fighters; just impress the bosses and you're in.
But Fertitta and White have done a pretty remarkable job of keeping the Hall exclusive and only including worthy folks. There's no Tim Sylvia's here, folks. Of course, the flip side is also true, because Frank Shamrock still finds himself iced out of the honors due to a long-running disagreement with White and Fertitta.
White told media during a recent lunch gathering in Las Vegas that Penn and Ortiz deserve induction. If the boss thinks you deserve induction, there's a pretty good chance you're in.
"Despite my personal problems with Tito, he belongs in," White told MMAFighting.com. "He was the champion when we first bought this thing. The fact that Tito is still here, Tito and I have had our moments, but it doesn’t change what he did for the company."
White said the same logic applies for Penn, the ground-breaking lightweight who continues to insist that he's retired after his October loss to Nick Diaz. White has repeatedly said that Penn will fight at least one more time.
"The thing about B.J. Penn is that what he brought to the lightweight division, there was a point in time when we first bought this company when people thought guys in the lighter weight divisions couldn’t be stars and couldn’t see pay-per-views and couldn’t cross over. B.J. Penn was definitely that first crossover guy for us."
I completely agree with White on the merits of Penn and Ortiz being in the Hall of Fame. Given what we know about the Hall—that the only true requirement for entry is that you've been an important part of history—then both of these fighters are a no-brainer.
Frank Shamrock is also a no-brainer, but that's another story for an entirely different day.