Tito Ortiz and Forrest Griffin were never the best fighters in the world.
There was a time when Ortiz could have been considered for that honor. Back in 2000 and 2001, Ortiz ruled supreme in the UFC's light-heavyweight division. But that was before Randy Couture and Chuck Liddell came along to put a permanent end to his reign as the UFC light-heavyweight champion.
Ortiz recovered from those two consecutive losses, winning his next five fights, but he was never really the same dominant fighter that he once was.
Griffin was never a dominant fighter. Sure, he once held the UFC light-heavyweight title, but it always felt like more of an aberration than a sign of changing tides at the top of the division. He's gone 2-3 since winning that title, with both of his wins coming over aging opponents, Ortiz and Rich Franklin.
What do we make of these two fighters? Are they legends of the sport?
Ortiz certainly qualifies in that category. He's going into the UFC Hall of Fame, and, according to UFC.com, he's incredibly happy with the honor:
"It is a huge honor to be recognized as one of the greatest fighters of all time by the UFC," Ortiz said. "To be inducted into the Hall of Fame is final proof that all the hard work and dedication, all the pain and sacrifices, were all worth it. To be able to walk to the Octagon one last time as an official UFC Hall of Fame level fighter is going to be humbling and awesome. I’m very grateful to have this opportunity to end my career on such a high like this."
I think what we're looking at here are two guys who, while they may not go down among the greatest fighters of all time, are certainly men who have established strong personal connections and legacies within the confines of the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
Take Ortiz, for example. He had his battles with Dana White, to be sure, and at times he harmed the UFC brand more than he helped it—or attempted to, anyway.
But Ortiz was also partially responsible for the promotion's surge in popularity with the casual viewer. His rivalry with Ken Shamrock took the UFC to heights that it had never before experienced, at least from pay-per-view and television-ratings perspectives.
The same thing goes for Griffin. As part of that epic first Ultimate Fighter finale, with Stephan Bonnar, Griffin helped establish the UFC as an exciting and watchable television product. He, along with Dana White and a handful of other fighters, was responsible for helping push the UFC even further into the mainstream.
In essence, he took the torch initially carried by Ortiz and ran it just a bit further down the path.
No, Ortiz and Griffin won't go down in history alongside Georges St-Pierres, Anderson Silva and Fedor Emelianenko as two of the best fighters of all time. But that doesn't mean they haven't built legacies for themselves.
They've been crucial to the UFC's rise in the public consciousness, and they deserve all the credit in the world for that.