UFC Hall of Fame: 25 Cases for Induction
There have been quite a few articles written about the UFC Hall of Fame, and I think it's time for us to take another look at who has a good chance of getting in.
With the UFC not being an all-inclusive, comprehensive MMA Hall of Fame, every fighter considered has to have a direct UFC connection. Most people look at the direct connection by just including feats the fighter has accomplished during their UFC career. However, with Zuffa absorbing other organizations, accolades from previous organizations have to factor in.
It's actually the same way the NFL Hall of Fame chose to honor players who spent the majority of their career in the AFL. So with that said, Pride FC accomplishments and WEC accomplishments have to factor into a decision (AFL-NFL Merger Theory).
Obviously, there is no perfect formula or even a standard prerequisite to go by when choosing who Dana White and the boys will let into the HOF—especially considering the fact that his personal distaste for a person can trump all their accomplishments and keep them out. Keep in mind, I'm not suggesting all of the fighters in the following slides should be in the HOF, I'm just looking at their cases and showing pros and cons to see what you guys think.
Let's just look at the fighters' resume and judge by what they've done, not whether Dana likes them or not...
- Record: 31-4
- Championships: UFC Middleweight Champion, Unified UFC and Pride FC Middleweight Champion
- Signature Win: Defeated Rich Franklin at UFC 64 for the UFC Crown; defeated Chael Sonnen at UFC 117 to retain UFC Championship
- Why He's In: In case an alien is reading this, everybody knows that Anderson Silva is perhaps the Muhammad Ali of mixed martial arts. He's the greatest we've seen, and his UFC record and credentials back that up. Even Dana White proclaimed him as the greatest. First ballot, unanimous choice for the hall of fame ASAP
- Why He's Not: Yeah, nothing to say here.
- Record: 22-2
- Championships: Two-time UFC Welterweight Champion
- Signature Win: Defeated Matt Serra at UFC 83 for the UFC Welterweight Belt
- Why He's In: Another no-brainer. Georges St-Pierre is the second most dominant champion in UFC history behind the aforementioned Anderson Silva. GSP is arguably the most popular UFC fighter, and he's a rock star in Canada. If he were to not recover from his knee injury and retire today, he should still be a lock for the hall.
- Why He's Not: Once again, nothing to say here. GSP is the ultimate company man and there's no way he doesn't get in.
- Record: 16-8-2
- Championships: UFC Lightweight Champion, UFC Welterweight Champion
- Signature Win: Defeated Joe Stevenson at UFC 80 for the UFC Lightweight Belt
- Why He's In: Another of the UFC's more popular fighters, B.J. Penn is an icon of the UFC. One of the few fighters to hold belts in two different weight classes, Penn has been the definition of a complete fighter. Though his record isn't as stellar as GSP or Silva, BJ has fought the best from the moment he stepped inside the cage. He's given fans and the UFC plenty of reasons to call him a Hall of Famer. No debate here.
- Why He's Not: No reason to say anything here, either.
- Record: 29-8
- Championships: Pride FC Middleweight Champion, Pride FC Welterweight Champion, 2005 Pride Welterweight Grand Prix Champion, UFC 17 Middleweight Tournament Champion
- Signature Win: Defeated Wanderlei Silva at Pride 33 for the Pride FC Middleweight Belt
- Why He's In: Dan Henderson is the most decorated U.S. fighter in UFC history. He's the only man in MMA history to hold belts in two different weight classes at the same time. He holds notable wins over some of the sports best, including some people from this list. Even though he doesn't have a UFC belt to speak of, he won the UFC 17 Middleweight Tournament, and that has to stand for something, right?
- Why He's Not: Here's where the debate begins. If you look solely at Henderson's UFC resume, he doesn't warrant being inducted into the Hall of Fame. In the UFC, Henderson has a 5-2 record with the losses coming in championship bouts where he handed over his Pride FC Belts. Not bad, but certainly not worthy of being in the HoF. However, if you include his Pride FC accomplishments (since Pride was absorbed by the UFC...see AFL-NFL merger theory), Henderson is an easy choice for the HoF. He's done things that no other fighter has ever done, and he deserves his due.
- Record: 16-10-1
- Championships: UFC Light Heavyweight Champion
- Signature Win: Defeated Ken Shamrock at UFC 40 to retain the UFC Light Heavyweight Belt and break the record for most light heavyweight title defenses
- Why He's In: Tito Ortiz is the most dominant light heavyweight champion the UFC has seen so far. With five title defenses and wins over Forrest Griffin, Ken Shamrock (three times) and Wanderlei Silva, he easily should be in the HoF. As a matter of fact, if Chuck Liddell is in, Tito not being in already is almost an insult to a pioneer of the UFC. The Huntington Beach Bad Boy was one of the biggest pay-per-view draws in the sport and deserves some recognition.
- Why He's Not: Pretty simple, Dana White hasn't wanted to put him in yet. They obviously have amended things to a certain degree, and hopefully that leads to an induction soon. But as long as Tito isn't in Dana's good graces, he won't be in the HoF. Based on merit, he definitely deserves to be in.
- Record: 34-11-1-1
- Championships: Pride FC Middleweight Champion, 2003 Pride Middleweight Grand Prix Champion
- Signature Win: Defeated Kazushi Sakuraba at Pride 17 for the Pride Middleweight Championship
- Why He's In: Obviously Wanderlei Silva doesn't have the most stellar UFC record (4-6), but he was the undisputed face of Pride FC. Wanderlei dominated any and all comers during his lengthy reign as Pride Middleweight champion. He holds a litany of Pride records as well as notable wins over Rampage Jackson, Dan Henderson, and Kazushi Sakuraba. Why wouldn't he be in?
- Why He's Not: Here's the same scenario as we see in Dan Henderson's case. Wanderlei's signature moments and dominance came in Pride, not the UFC. He's had a very average career in the UFC in terms of his record, but he is still one of the most beloved fighters in MMA history. If the line is drawn at him having success in the UFC, then he can't possibly be in.
- Record: 27-10-2-1
- Championships: 2006 Pride Grand Prix Open-Weight Champion
- Signature Win: Defeated Wanderlei Silva at Pride Final Conflict Absolute in Pride Open-Weight Grand Prix Semi-Final
- Why He's In: Another Pride icon and fan favorite who ushered a multitude of fans into the MMA craze, Mirko Cro-Cop won the Open-weight Grand Prix on his birthday. He, Wanderlei Silva and Josh Barnett in the same night to get the win over a pretty solid field of athletes. Cro-Cop's Leg kick knockouts are legendary and frankly one of the reasons a lot of MMA fans became enamored with the sport. He's a legend.
- Why He's Not: His case is a little different. While Cro-Cop was an explosive striker with dangerous finishing power, he didn't hold a belt in the UFC or Pride outside of his Grand Prix win. His record in the UFC is a pedestrian 4-6, which may have gotten a fighter with lessor prestige cut from the organization. A great, legendary fighter, but HoF worthy?
- Record: 20-6
- Championships: UFC Light Heavyweight Champion, Pride FC 2005 Middleweight Grand Prix Champion
- Signature Win: Defeated Ricardo Arona at Pride Final Conflict 2005 to win the 2005 Pride FC Middleweight Grand Prix
- Why He's In: Not everyone remembers Mauricio "Shogun" Rua's legendary run in 2005 during the Pride middleweight tournament. Shogun defeated Rampage Jackson, Antônio Rogério Nogueira, Alistar Overeem, and Ricardo Arona en route to winning the belt. Many say that it was one of the greatest one-year runs ever seen in MMA (I'm sure Jon Jones might have something to say about that). Shogun has shown to be an explosive striker and, as demonstrated in his epic fight with Dan Henderson, one of the toughest fighters in the organization. If you look at his entire body of work, it's hard to argue against an induction.
- Why He's Not: Some may say that Shogun hasn't done enough to warrant induction. He did obtain the UFC belt, but turned around and lost it to the current champion, Jon Jones. His Pride exploits were magnificent, but is it really enough?
- Record: 32-8-0-1
- Championships: Pride FC Lightweight Champion, Pride FC 2005 Lightweight Grand Prix Champion
- Signature Win: Defeated Tatsuya Kawajiri at Pride Bushido 9 during the Pride FC Lightweight Grand Prix Quarterfinals
- Why He's In: Definitely expect to hear some naysayers on this one, but if you look at what Takanori Gomi did during his run in Pride, he deserves some consideration. Gomi was the only Pride FC Lightweight Champion ever had. His 2005 run was incredible, notching five wins over a seven-month period. During a three-year span, he was one of the world's greatest lightweights.
- Why He's Not: Has he done enough? I'm not sure his Pride accolades are enough in Gomi's case, especially when you factor in how he's struggled in the UFC (particularly defending submissions). Gomi's resume may be left on the cutting room floor of the HoF
Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira
- Record: 33-7-1-1
- Championships: Pride FC Heavyweight Champion, Interim UFC Heavyweight Champion
- Signature Win: Defeated Mirko "Cro-Cop" Filipovic at Pride Final Conflict 2003 for the Interim Pride Heavyweight Championship
- Why He's In: A lot of people forget just how good Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira has been during his career. He seems to be an afterthought when the great heavyweight fighters are brought up. He's one of only three fighters to hold belts in the UFC and Pride. One is Mark Coleman (already in the UFC Hall of Fame) and the other is Mauricio "Shogun" Rua (also on this list). He holds notable wins over Mark Coleman, Mirko Cro-Cop, and Josh Barnett, to name a few. He may go down as the most gifted heavyweight Brazilian Jiu-Jistu fighter ever.
- Why He's Not: How much weight does an interim championship hold? It's essentially saying, you're the champion because the real champion is hurt. It's hard to view an interim champion in the same regard we hold an undisputed champion. For that reason, along with his 4-3 UFC record, it's debatable on whether he is a lock for the HoF based on his Pride merits.
- Record: 29-7-2
- Championships: UFC Welterweight Champion
- Signature Win: Defeated Chris Brennan at UFC 16 to win the UFC Lightweight Tournament
- Why He's In: A true pioneer of the sport, Pat Miletich was the first UFC Welterweight champion. Not only did he win the Lightweight Tournament to get the honor of being champion, but he defended the belt four times before giving it up. If you add his octagon triumphs with his training prowess, there's no way he shouldn't already be in.
- Why He's Not: Dana White. The two have a well-documented rift in their once cordial relationship. Dana says that Pat is bitter that he doesn't have the money he feels he should have, while Pat says that Dana likes to crush dreams. So because of this, Pat sits on the HoF steps, waiting.
- Record: 23-10-2
- Championships: UFC Light Heavyweight Champion
- Signature Win: Defeated Tito Ortiz at UFC 22 to retain UFC Light Heavyweight Belt
- Why He's In: Frank Shamrock was a dominant champion in the light heavyweight division. Until Jon Jones came along, it was hard for some to remember a dominant light heavyweight champion, but Frank Shamrock was the first. He even beat his eventual successor, Tito Ortiz, and retired due to lack of competition. Frank's unblemished record in the UFC speaks volumes.
- Why He's Not: Dana White. Once again, here's a former champion that Dana just can't seem to get along with, and therefore he sits on the steps with Pat Miletich. Frank hasn't helped things by firing back at the negative comments from Dana and attempting to "one up" him. A lot of reconciliation would have to happen for Frank to get in.
- Record: 20-9-1-1
- Championships: UFC 8 Tournament Winner, Ultimate Ultimate 96 Tournament Winner
- Signature Win: Defeated Tank Abbott at Ultimate Ultimate 96 to become Tournament Champion
- Why He's In: Not many two-time UFC tournament champions haven't gone in to the HoF, but Don Frye is one of the exceptions. Frye was a true mixed martial artist, having studied Judo, wrestling and boxing. He was also a fan favorite with his Magnum P.I. moustache. His accolades in the early days of the organization should be enough for him to be in.
- Why He's Not: Dana White doesn't seem to like him, and it appears that the feeling is mutual. It appears that in interviews, Frye has a distaste for White and the way he conducts business. So he can have a seat with the rest of the people who belong in, but won't make it.
- Record: 26-5
- Championships: WEC Featherweight Champion
- Signature Win: Defeated Dominick Cruz at WEC 26 to retain WEC Belt
- Why He's In: Urijah Faber was the face of the WEC after the promotion was purchased by Zuffa and chose to dissolve the larger weight divisions. Faber dominated a division that was actually not his natural weight class. He defended his belt five times against top notch opponents including a current UFC Champion in Dominick Cruz. Considering the fact that the UFC didn't have the division at the time Faber was champion, his accolades have to weigh a ton in considering him HOF-worthy.
- Why He's Not: Faber was/is an icon for the little guys, but has he done enough yet to be mentioned with Matt Hughes and Randy Couture? If he defeats his archnemisis, Dominick Cruz, at the end of the Ultimate Fighter 15, maybe he will be closer to being a lock.
- Record: 30-7
- Championships: Two-time UFC Heavyweight Champion
- Signature Win: Defeated Andrei Arlovski at UFC 59 for UFC Heavyweight Belt
- Why He's In: Tim Sylvia is one of the few multiple time champions in UFC History. It's hard to make it to the top, but to do so twice is remarkable. Not only has he won the belt, he defended it the same amount of times as HOF Randy Couture. As a man who patrolled the top of the division for quite some time, maybe he deserves a shot at entry into the HOF.
- Why He's Not: Due to his exit from the organization due to lack of pay among other things, it's hard to see the UFC extending the olive branch to induct him into the HOF. Even though he had success, he doesn't seem like the type of fan favorite that the UFC would been over backward for.
- Record: 32-9
- Championships: UFC Light Heavyweight Champion
- Signature Win: Defeated Chuck Liddell at UFC 71 for the UFC Light Heavyweight Belt
- Why He's In: Another Icon, Rampage Jackson is undoubtedly one of the most popular UFC fighters in the organizations history. His career has had some ups and downs, but no one can deny that when he is focused, he is a scary person for anyone to face. Despite his comical persona, Rampage has defeated Dan Henderson, Wanderlei Silva, Chuck Liddell, Lyoto Machida, and Kevin Randleman. He didn't win a belt in Pride, but he made quite a large impression, especially in slamming Ricardo Arona to sleep.
- Why He's Not: As popular as the former "Mr. T" is, what he's done so far, may not be enough to warrant induction. His lack of title defenses (though he did defend and unify the Pride and UFC titles versus Dan Henderson) may be what closes the door on Rampage.
- Record: 18-7
- Championships: UFC Light Heavyweight Champion, TUF Season One Winner
- Signature Win: Defeated Stephan Bonner at the TUF Finale to become the TUF Season One Champion
- Why He's In: Forrest Griffin is another immensely popular fighter in the UFC. He gained notoriety from the epic TUF Finale fight against Stephan Bonner, which has often been hailed as the most important fight in UFC history. Due to that and his charisma, Griffin has built quite a large following. He captured his UFC Light Heavyweight Belt from Rampage Jackson at UFC 86, and hold notable victories over Rich Franklin, Shogun Rua, Tito Ortiz and Chael Sonnen.
- Why He's Not: Does being a company man get you in? Griffin has been rewarded for that TUF Finale with almost a lifetime contract. Because of this, it's not hard to imagine that Griffin would be allowed in because of being in good graces with Dana White and the boys. Not sure he deserves it based on his resume.
- Record: 28-6-0-1
- Championships: UFC Middleweight Champion
- Signature Win: Defeated Evan Tanner at UFC 53 for the UFC Middleweight Belt
- Why He's In: Rich "Ace" Franklin is one of the most relentless math teachers this world has ever seen. Franklin added intelligence with a will to win to become one of the biggest stars of the UFC. If not for Anderson Silva, who knows how long he would have held the middleweight belt.
- Why He's Not: Rich is a consummate company man. He does what the UFC tells him, when the UFC tells him. You have to respect that. However, is being on their good side enough to get him in? His resume just doesn't seem to stack up against some of the other inductees.
- Record: 25-16-1
- Championships: UFC Lightweight Champion
- Signature Win: Defeated Caol Uno at UFC 30 for the UFC Lightweight Belt
- Why He's In: Another pioneer of the organization, Jens "Lil' Evil" Pulver was the first Lightweight champion. He defeated the renowned Caol Uno to grab the belt. In defense of the belt, he beat the phenom that was B.J. Penn. Pulver definitely did damage during his run in the UFC, and is considered a legend in the division by many.
- Why He's Not: Although Pulver had a 7-2-1 UFC record, his 1-5 WEC is what most remember. Pulver did win a belt, but it may not weigh enough to overcome the recent negative opinion some have of him as a fighter.
- Record: 36-4
- Championships: UFC Lightweight Champion
- Signature Win: Defeated Kenny Florian at UFC 64 for the UFC Lightweight Belt
- Why He's In: Sean Sherk was a powerhouse in the lightweight division. He beat Kenny Florian, Nick Diaz, and Evan Dunham as well. His combination of speed, strength and drive propelled him to a successful career thus far.
- Why He's Not: The UFC may not want to publicly endorse a person who was documented as having involvement in steroids. They will probably not endorse somebody they stripped the title from. Unless things drastically change, Sherk may be locked out.
- Record: 20-9
- Championships: UFC 12 Tournament Winner, UFC Light Heavyweight Champion
- Signature Win: Defeated Wanderlei Silva at UFC Brazil; defeated Randy Couture at UFC 46 for the UFC Light Heavyweight Belt
- Why He's In: "The Phenom" Vitor Belfort has had a pretty solid career. With notable wins over Randy Couture, Wanderlei Silva, Yoshihiro Akiyama, and Rich Franklin, he's proven that the nickname wasn't a fluke. He has a solid UFC record and belts to accompany his record. Being in great standing with Dana and the boys helps also.
- Why He's Not: Some would argue that he's on the cusp. He may need one more career-defining achievement to put him over the hump. Perhaps if he gave Anderson Silva a run for his money at UFC 126 instead running into the front kick, he may be a lock.
- Record: 16-1-1
- Championships: TUF Season 2 Champion; UFC Light Heavyweight Champion
- Signature Win: Defeated Forrest Griffin at UFC 92 for the UFC Light Heavyweight Belt
- Why He's In: Do you realize that "Sugar" Rashad Evans has only lost one time? People forget that the former TUF winner has only lost once, and that was in a title bout. Sure it was in impressive fashion, but it was the only time. Also, he's defeated Chuck Liddell, Forrest Griffin, Rampage Jackson, and Tito Ortiz. That's four former champions. He at least deserves a glance, right?
- Why He's Not: Rashad has made himself into the bad guy. He constantly gets booed at weigh-ins, and the crowd is always on his opponents side. He says off-color remarks (see the Sandusky statement) and may not be the most marketable choice when his time comes up. His wait for the title shot also didn't do him any favors, as he continues to be on the cusp of fighting to regain his title after every event. If he gets a shot at Jon Jones, and wins, he may be a lock. But who thinks he's gonna win?
- Record: 40-4
- Championships: WEC Bantamweight Champion
- Signature Win: Defeated Takeya Mizugaki at WEC 40 to retain WEC Bantamweight Belt
- Why He's In: Whether people choose to realize it or not, Miguel Angel Torres, along with Urijah Faber, carried the WEC brand for quite some time. Torres had a dominant run as WEC Bantamweight Champion, knocking off some of the best challengers in the world. He even looked poised to make a run at the UFC Bantamweight champion until...
- Why He's Not: ...He made some not so thought out comments on Twitter. The UFC subsequently released him from the organization. Hopefully the UFC will give him another chance considering he was never in any other trouble, and apologized for his actions. But his fate is in their hands.
- Record: 28-4-1
- Championships: UFC Heavyweight Champion
- Signature Win: Defeated Kevin Randleman at UFC 20 for the UFC Heavyweight Belt
- Why He's In: Bas "El Guapo" Rutten has influenced a lot of the current UFC fighters and served as a mentor to fighters around the world. Bas Rutten, who was widely considered to be the best fighter at the time, defeated Kevin Randleman for the Heavyweight Belt and would've defended it had injuries not caught up to him. He finished his career on a 22-fight unbeaten streak and is looked upon as one of the pound-for-pound greats of all time.
- Why He's Not: MMA HOF most definitely, UFC HOF probably not. Sure he held a belt in the UFC, but so did Matt Serra, and he isn't HOF worthy. The truth is, Bas Rutten didn't do enough within the confines of the UFC or UFC related company to warrant induction. King of Pancrase HOF, yeah, that sounds about right.
- Record: 32-4-0-1
- Championships: Pride FC Heavyweight Champion, 2004 Pride FC Heavyweight Grand Prix Champion
- Signature Win: Defeated Mirko "Cro-Cop" Filipovic at Pride Final Conflict 2005 to retain Pride FC Heavyweight Belt
- Why He's In: For quite some time Fedor Emelianenko was considered the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world. He dominated during his Pride run, boasting an unbeaten record. During that time he took down Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, Mirko Cro-Cop, Mark Coleman and Kevin Randleman. Even though the last two years haven't been so kind to him, it doesn't take away his Pride dominance.
- Why He's Not: Unlike some of the other Pride legends mentioned, Fedor has never fought in the UFC. It's extremely hard to fathom Dana White and the boys allowing a fighter whom they had significant trouble getting into the organization into the most hallowed of ground for a fighter. The chances of him getting in are about at zero percent. But who knows, maybe he makes his way into the UFC somehow considering the influx of heavyweight talent and the difficulty he may have finding a suitable opponent outside of the UFC.