At UFC 148, the UFC Hall of Fame will open it's doors to welcome their ninth member: Tito Ortiz.
The Huntington Beach Bad Boy is a list-topping fighter, and he holds three major records inside the Octagon. No one else has ever defended the UFC Light-Heavyweight championship five times, let alone done it in consecutive bouts. Additionally, Ortiz will improve upon his record for most career fights in the UFC, as his battle with Forrest Griffin marks his 27th appearance.
Ortiz is also a member of the elite group of fighters who have collected the Fight Night Trifecta: Fight, Submission and Knockout of the Night. This unofficial honor is rare, as less than five men hold the distinction. Ortiz is the first man to enter the Hall of Fame with this accolade.
Although we could spend many an afternoon debating the merits of Ortiz, this article isn't about him. It is merely inspired by him. This is a look at 10 individuals who should be inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame.
Frank Shamrock should have been a member of the initial class to be inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame.
Shamrock was the original UFC Light-Heavyweight champion, and defended his belt four times before retiring with the belt. Frank inevitably returned to the cage on seven more occasions, winning the Strikeforce Middleweight and WEC Light Heavyweight championships along the way.
Although he doesn't have the mainstream exposure of Ken Shamrock, Frank Shamrock was widely viewed as the top pound-for-pound fighter in the world during his title run. His wins over Bas Rutten, Tito Ortiz and Masakatsu Funaki are highly enviable feats, as he was able to defeat some of the greatest stars of all time in the prime of their careers.
Don Frye is often left out of Hall of Fame discussions, and it is quite disturbing.
As a two-time tournament winner (UFC 8 and Ultimate 96), Frye should immediately stand out from the rest of the pack when looking for a solid Hall of Fame candidate. However, let's take a deeper look at his credentials.
Frye debuted at UFC 8 where he won three fights in a combined time of 3:10. Defeating Gary Goodridge in the finals, it was clear that Frye was going to grow into a monster of an athlete.
At Ultimate 96, Frye would defeat Goodridge again before going on to choke out Tank Abbott for his second tournament win.
Frye's sole loss in his 9-1 stint inside the Octagon came in the finals of UFC 10. After more than 11 minutes of action against future Hall of Fame fighter Mark Coleman, Frye succumbed to strikes and suffered his first career loss.
Later, Frye would join PRIDE and pick up a signature win against Ken Shamrock.
Like most pioneers, Frye would fall off tremendously in his later years. However, at one point, the man with the moustache held a 15-1 record that would make Brock Lesnar blush.
Not the Silva you were expecting? That's OK. Joe Silva is used to playing the role of unsung hero.
In reality, the UFC's matchmaker has been responsible for putting together every bone-crushing and jaw-dropping moment that has ever taken place during a regulated moment inside the Octagon.
Sometimes Joe Silva sees things that we would never consider, and it ends up paying off tremendously. For example, who could have predicted the war that would come from Mark Hominick vs unknown Eddie Yagin? Or the epic ground battle between Demian Maia and Jason MacDonald? Or the fireworks between Diego Sanchez and Clay Guida?
OK. That last one was pretty easy to guess, but Silva is still the man who made it happen.
What better way can Dana White say thank you than by honoring Silva forever as a member of the UFC Hall of Fame?
Longest winning streak in UFC history? Check
Most consecutive title defenses in UFC history? Check
Most total title defenses in UFC history? Check
Pound for Pound greatest of all time? Check
There is no way on this Earth that Anderson Silva doesn't win up in the UFC Hall of Fame. His accomplishments are truly unparalleled. Look forward to watching The Spider in action on July 7th at UFC 148.
Rich Franklin is quite possibly the second best Middleweight in the history of the sport. Translation: Rich Franklin lost twice to the most dominant fighter of all time and it sent him fighting in catchweight contests if he was lucky enough to not fight the monsters at Light-Heavyweight.
The fact is, Rich Franklin is a former champion who has only been beaten by Anderson Silva while competing as a middleweight.
Franklin holds monumental wins over Wanderlei Silva, Ken Shamrock and Evan Tanner. In addition, his highlight reel knockouts of Chuck Liddell and Nate Quarry will live on highlight reels forever.
Franklin nearly dethroned one of the greatest Light-Heavyweights of all time when he lost a razor-thin split decision to Dan Henderson to kick off 2009.
Franklin is a team player who has stepped up on multiple occasions. He coached Season 2 of TUF, and wrapped up Season 11 too after Tito Ortiz left due to injury.
He has a championship history with a pair of title defenses. When he decides that it's time to call it a day, the UFC will reward him.
Despite his tendency to break down the barriers of weight classes, wins over Takanormi Gomi, Sean Sherk, Kenny Florian and Jens Pulver are enough to suggest that BJ Penn will likely go down as the best lightweight of all time.
Only Frankie Edgar and Jens Pulver have been able to defeat Penn in his natural weight class, and neither of them were able to finish the gritty Hawaiian.
Penn is one of only two fighters in history to win UFC gold in two weight classes. The other member of that exclusive club is current Hall of Fame fighter Randy Couture.
Penn is another member of the elite Fight Night Trifecta group, as he holds two Submission of the Night awards to go along with his KO of the Night and Fight of the Night trophies.
It's hard to believe that Georges St. Pierre has done battle in the Octagon a whopping 18 times.
At the relatively young age of 31, GSP has recorded 16 wins in the UFC, including multiple wins against top names BJ Penn, Matt Hughes and Josh Koscheck.
I could run down the list of Jon Fitches and Matt Serras who have also fallen to GSP, but if you don't know the tale of Canadian Rush yet, I doubt that you would be reading this article right now.
GSP has avenged his only two career losses and gone on to break records. With one more win, GSP will tie the record for total defenses of the welterweight championship. With two more wins, he will tie the record for career wins inside the UFC.
The Canadian superstar has held the belt for more than four years, which makes him the longest reigning champion in the division's history.
I could continue making a case for GSP to be inducted into the Hall of Fame, but by now, you get the drift.
The UFC was a well known entity when The Ultimate Fighter began to air. In fact, ultra-popular sitcom Friends featured a storyline where a character would train to compete in the UFC and eventually winds up in a body cast from the waist up. The sport was described as "totally real and totally brutal."
That's not the kind of free publicity that Dana White likes to remember.
Thankfully, the Zuffa boys would be able to create a new image in the public eye. All of that started with the beginning of TUF. Fans were introduced to humble athletes who wanted to compete. They learned that mixed martial arts had rules, and weight classes, and it started to grow on them.
When all the cards were on the table, Forrest Griffin and Stephan Bonnar delivered the most important fight in the history of the sport. For that alone, both of these men should be considered for a spot in the Hall of Fame.
To make his case more undeniable, Griffin defeated world champions Shogun Rua, Rampage Jackson and Rich Franklin throughout his career. Not bad for a reality show winner, eh?
Randy Couture thinks Brock Lesnar should be in the Hall of Fame. Who am I to argue with a five-time UFC champion?
Although his record inside the Octagon is a paltry 4-3, Brock Lesnar's career had an immediate and long-lasting impact on the sport as we know it.
Before Lesnar's debut inside the Octagon, the had been only event in UFC history to break 1,000,000 pay-per-view buys (Liddell vs Ortiz II). Since that time, six more events have hit that important milestone and four of them featured the former NCAA wrestling champion in the main event.
In fact, Lesnar was featured on six of the Top 20 PPVs produced by Zuffa.
The Hall of Fame is a place to honor those who have done remarkable things for the sport. In terms of marketing and growth, few have done what Lesnar has, and he should be rewarded for his contributions.
Surprised? I don't blame you. But hear me out before you smash your monitor.
Matt Serra did a lot for the UFC that he doesn't seem to get credit for. Let's take a look at Matt Serra's relationship with the UFC.
Serra has an 11-year career fighting exclusively for the UFC.
Serra won Season 4 of The Ultimate Fighter.
Serra showed the world that Ultimate Fighter stars can compete with the best when he became the first TUF fighter to become UFC champion.
Serra followed it up by becoming the first TUF cast member to go from contestant to coach. Other popular stars would follow suit, as Forrest Griffin, Rashad Evans, Josh Koscheck and Michael Bisping (twice) would follow in his footsteps.
Serra shares the award for combined significant strikes landed in a fight for his UFC 119 performance against Chris Lytle.
Serra is the only man to knock out Georges St. Pierre, the greatest welterweight in UFC history.
Serra continues to contribute to the success of the UFC as he trains and coaches middleweight prospects Chris Weidman and Costa Philippou.
Serra is charismatic, likable and has an incredible fan base.