The first member of the UFC Hall of Fame class of 2017 has been announced; former WEC featherweight champion and top-10 bantamweight staple Urijah Faber. The announcement was made during UFC 210.
The confirmation is somewhat surprising, given Faber only retired in December, but he is certainly a deserved addition to the Hall.
While four failed title shots tarnished his legacy with some fans, the California Kid achieved a great deal both in and out of the cage. The face of the WEC until the promotion's closure in 2010, Faber was a pioneer for fighters in lower weight classes, becoming one of the most popular fighters in the sport at a time where few believed that smaller fighters could draw. On top of that, he established one of the biggest and most successful gyms in the sport, Team Alpha Male.
That said, his in-cage accomplishments are nothing to sneeze at. He beat a who's who of high-level fighters during his prime including UFC champions Jens Pulver and Dominick Cruz, as well as a number of top-10 staples Bibiano Fernandes, Scott Jorgensen, Takeya Mizugaki and Eddie Wineland.
Since 2015, each UFC Hall of Fame class includes a "Pioneer" fighter from the sport's formative days, a "Contributor" who did not compete, a fight and a "Modern Era" competitor (which is the group Faber falls into). Expect the other three inductees to be revealed over the coming weeks, with the group being formally inducted in July ahead of UFC 213.