It is no secret that the UFC is looking to make two inductions into the UFC Hall of Fame. There is much speculation as to who those inductions will be. There is no doubt that some guys have already built the body of work throughout their career to be “first ballot” Hall of Famers, but the question is will they get the nod. I believe the difficulty comes because the decision for election into the Hall is not based on votes of writers, but of the decision of a few who make up the UFC brass. Due to the subjectivity of the voting some deserving guys will be left out because of their srtrained relationship with Dana White. I want to break it down to see who may get the next call to the UFC’s version on Cooperstown.
I believe there has to be some objective means of earning a spot in the hall of fame. In baseball certain statistical milestones all but ensure Hall of Fame induction. If a baseball player reaches 500 home runs, 3,000 hits, or 300 wins they nearly are a lock. There are other times when a player’s stats do not tell the story. Joe Dimaggio’s numbers in baseball are not those milestone numbers, but those who saw him play agree that he was a dominant force in his era. With that said I believe there are a few criteria which should help us determine if someone is UFC hall of fame worthy. It may be hard to make the distinction between a great fighter and a hall of fame calibur fighter. However, these questions may help sift through the field of all star fighters to select the best of the best for the hall of fame.
1. Did they dominate their weight class in their time?
2. Were they a title holder?
3. Did they make an impact on the sport?
The One’s Who Will Be There
1. Chuck Liddell – The most deserving person I can think of is Chuck Liddell. He has been the face of the UFC. He has been champion of the light heavyweight division. He dominated the division. He has big name wins. There is no doubt he will be in the hall of fame. I would not be shocked if he is one of the inductions at UFC 100. He and Hughes hold nearly all the UFC records as of now.
2. Matt Hughes– Hughes has been billed as the most dominat welterweight of all time. He was dominant. He has huge wins. He was THE guy at 170 for a long time. He holds wins over Royce Gracie, Georges St. Pierre, B.J. Penn, Frank Trigg, Matt Serra, and Sean Sherk. If I was a betting man Hughes could be the other induction.
3. Anderson Silva- Silva could quit now and be a hall of famer. He is champion. He certainly dominated. He has been unbeatable. He has not lost in the UFC. His induction is only a matter of time.
The One’s Who Should Be There, But May Never Be
1. Tito Ortiz – Let me begin by saying I am not a fan of Ortiz. With that said, I think he is a hall of famer. He was a dominant champion. He was a fan favorite for years. His feud with White may hinder his induction, but it shouldn’t.
2. Frank Shamrock – He also has a feud with Dana White, but he was certainly a dominant force in the UFC. He should be in the Hall of Fame.
3. Don Frye – Constantly overlooked and under appreciated. He is of the old school, but I say bring in Don Frye.
4. Pat Miletich – A welterweight champion who not only was a great fighter, but a great trainer. He should be in, but like so many others there is friction between he and the UFC.
5. Evan Tanner – I say put in Tanner. He was a champion. He was popular. He dominated many opponents. His tragic death ended his career, but I believe he should be immortalized in the UFC Hall of Fame.
The One’s Who Will Probably Be There
These guys may not have the career to get in now, but give ’em time and they are on the brink and many could justify their induction as is.
1. Rich Franklin – Perhaps he is overlooked because of his losses to Anderson Silva. However, Franklin has big wins to his credit including a recent win over Wanderlei Silva. He is still active so his resume will be more padded with time. He is a former middleweight champion who is making a run at the light heavyweight title. I think Franklin is deserving now, but I put him here because many think he needs another win or two before he is hall of fame level.
2. Georges St. Pierre – This is inevitable. He is the best welterweight ever. He has all the skills. He can be champ for a long time. He has really changed the sport with his well roudned skill set.
3. B.J. Penn – A champion in two weight classes. The best lightweight fighter in the world. The only question for Penn is his heart. I think he has done enough to get in. A win over Florian at UFC 101 will lock up his spot.
4. Forrest Griffin – He did win the light heavyweight title. However, Griffin may be known as the guy who saved the UFC. Dana White has said over and over again that Forrest Griffin’s fight with Stephan Bonnar at the Ultimate Fighter 1 Fianle saved the company. That alone merits his induction. However, you couple that with his title run, his big name wins over Rampage Jackson and Shogun Rua, and several fights in front of him and he is a lock as well.
5. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira – There are only a handful of guys in the sport who have earned universal respect in the fight game. I do not know of a guy more revered in MMA than Noghueira (Possibly the Gracies?). Nogueira is not the best heavyweight in the world, but he has always been one of the best. He has a heart of gold, seems to be a genuine good guy, and has an incredible toughness. Nogueira’s UFC record may not earn him the nod, but if his PRIDE career is considered there is no doubt Nog will get the nod. Plus he is a former UFC champ. A win over Randy Couture at UFC 102 would further cement his place in the UFC Hall of Fame.
6. Quinton Jackson – Has looked very good in the UFC with his only loss coming at the hands of Forrest Griffin. He is a fan favorite. He is a two time TUF coach. He won the belt from Liddell and defended it successfully. He is not done either. He is likely to get another title shot. If there was a voting for the UFC hall of fame, Jackson would get my vote based on his body of work so far.
7. Dan Henderson – Perhaps he is in the same boat as Nogueira. He does not have the best UFC record, but he is a legend of the sport. His only losses have come to big name guys. A win over Bisping at UFC 100 will give him another big name win to pad his resume for the UFC hall of fame.
Still Have Some Work to Do
1. Frank Mir – A two time hevayweight champion. Right now Mir is not a hall of famer, but he is a top notch fighter. He needs to beat Lesnar to move closer to the hall of fame. His comeback from a motorcycle accident certainly helps his case. He still has some work to do though to make it and he very well may do it.
2. Lyoto Machida – He may be in a different category. However, I think he needs to defend his belt once to be a shoe in. I do not see Machida losing anytime soon. He is the real deal. He hasn’t even lost a round yet. He changed the sport by being the first Karate based fighter to really succeed. I predict that not only will he move into the “sure thing” category, but will be mentioned in the same breath as all the greats of all time.
3. Brock Lesnar – I know, I know he has three fights to his credit in the UFC. I just think he has the skills to be dominant and to be champion for a long time, but before he can move into the hall of fame he has to prove his doubters wrong and that begins by beating Frank Mir at UFC 100.
4. Wanderlei Silva – I think he can be based on his PRIDE dominance, but a big UFC win is a must. Some may argue for him to be on the category above, but 2 wins in the UFC is not enough.
Non-Fighters Who Will (Or Should) Be There…
1. Dana White – I do not need to say anything about his impact on the sport. Even his enemies acknowledge his positive impact on MMA. He has built the UFC from nothing and for that deserves to be inagurated yesterday.
2. Lorenzo Fertita – His money has been a huge help the fight game. He invested in the UFC when it was nothing. For that he deserves to be there and will be.
3. “Big” John McCarthy – Perhaps he won’t be there, but he is the only referee who is so viewed as a inseprable part of MMA. He is really the best in the business and was a fixture at UFC events.
4. Charles “Mask” Lewis – The deceased Tapout founder really changed the sport and was a huge part of the UFC rise to the top. I would not complain one bit about him being inducted at UFC 100.
5. Joe Rogan – He has become one of the voices of the UFC and an ambassador of the sport. He will be there one day.