We're closing in on UFC 100—and the release of The UFC 100—which means talks of who will be the next entrant into the UFC Hall of Fame are heating up again.
Evan Tanner's name constantly comes up and I keep wondering why.
Don't get me wrong—I loved Evan Tanner as a fighter and appreciate the trials and tribulations he went through outside the ring battling alcoholism. That being said, Evan Tanner is not a Hall of Famer.
I'm just trying to come at this logically, leaving all emotions at the door. Hypothetically speaking, if Evan Tanner were alive today, would a single soul be talking about him becoming the next member of the UFC Hall of Fame?
Of course they wouldn't. Tanner was a damn tough fighter who marched to the beat of his own drum, but he wasn't a dominating force at any point in his career and his one UFC title reign lasted four months minus a day, as Rich Franklin claimed the Middleweight belt in Tanner's first defense.
By no means am I trying to kick dirt on the grave of a fallen warrior—as I said, I completely respect what Tanner did inside the cage and outside the cage—but there are numerous people far more worthy of a place in the Hall of Fame than Evan Tanner... and no, as sad as his loss is as well, "Mask" isn't one of them either, unless you're inducting the entire Tapout Crew as a whole.
I look at it this way: Helio Gracie did far more for the sport of Mixed Martial Arts than both Charles Lewis and Evan Tanner combined, as the founder of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and patriarch of the legendary Gracie family. Oh, his son also started the original UFC. Kind of important, I think.
But many people don't think that way. I haven't read one article or list of candidates that mentions Helio Gracie, but everyone seems to be pulling for Mask and Tanner, with many considering them locks for induction.
They look back nostalgically at the career of Evan Tanner and romanticize it, using his brief championship stint and 17 career UFC fights as qualifications. Of course, Tim Sylvia is a two-time heavyweight champion with a number of fights in the UFC as well, but I don't hear anyone calling for "The Maine-iac" to be recognized...
The same goes for Mask. With all due respect, if he was still with us, would anyone be promoting him for the Hall of Fame? Probably not and while I know it's the answer to the question is moot because Charles Lewis was taken from us too soon, death shouldn't be the main criteria for induction.
If we're paying tribute to pioneers and people who showed incredible support and love for the sport, than do so accordingly, by acknowledging legends like Helio Gracie and not just the fallen whose imprint is freshest in our minds.
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Like everyone else who calls themselves a fan of Mixed Martial Arts, I too am saddened by the loss of these great contributors to our sport.
Without question, they did more than I could ever possibly do for Mixed Martial Arts and their presence can never be replaced.
My thoughts and prayers continue to go out to the families and friends of Evan Tanner and Charles "Mask" Lewis, as they do for Helio Gracie and his family.
(Photo by John Gichigi / Getty Images)