Potential Candidates for the UFC Hall of Fame
As the four year anniversary of Evan Tanner’s death approaches it got me to thinking why he’s not in the UFC Hall of Fame? I’m not about to get into an argument that there are others enshrined who are less worthy, my point is simply to state the case for Tanner as well as a few other fighters who I believe deserve the designation.
There’s a fine line with a lot of fighters because some have suggested their time in the UFC was short and their careers were for the most part took place in other organizations. Being that the UFC has essentially purchased many of the other major promotions that had any worthwhile fighters competing for them, I am going to include a few fighters that may or may not leave you scratching your heads.
I’m not going to go into great detail. The readers of this site seem to be well educated about MMA and can make a decision based on their own opinions and they also have the ability to do their own research should they choose to. My intention is to name a few fighters who I would like to see in the Hall of Fame, nothing more nothing less.
Evan Tanner- Beloved by many, understood by very few, Tanner definitely marched to the beat of his own drummer. The former UFC Middleweight Champion had an overall record of 32-8 and was 11-6 while fighting in the UFC. He defeated Robbie Lawler, David Terrell, Phil Baroni (2X), Minowaman, Heath Herring and Paul Buentello during his 11 year career.
Tanner is clearly a fighter full of what if’s and what could’ve been. He battled alcohol and other trials and tribulations that caused him to miss significant time. The truth of the matter is he learned early BJJ by watching old Gracie Family VHS tapes and never stayed in one place long enough to plant any real roots. His Power of One idea where he would forgo corporate sponsorships in lieu of being sponsored by his fans was truly innovative. If only he were around to have been able to enjoy the fruits of his labor.
Frank Shamrock- I know a lot of people don’t understand Shamrock all that well, they only saw him towards the end of his career, but he like Tanner, was truly ahead of his time. He was one of the first fighters to incorporate himself into a well-rounded mixed martial artist. He trained all aspects of MMA long before it was cool to do so. Let’s not forget he was also one of the first guys to develop himself into an actual brand.
His career record was 23-10 and he was undefeated in five career UFC bouts. He finished all five of his opponents including a young Tito Ortiz in what would be his fifth and final defense of the UFC Middleweight Championship which later would become the light heavyweight title. He also was an interim King of Pancrase, the first WEC Light Heavyweight Champion and the first Strikeforce Middleweight Champion. He’s done as much for the sport outside the cage as he did inside of it.
Fedor Emelianenko– I know I know he never fought for the UFC, but he ruled Pride with an iron fist and fought for Strikeforce, two companies now under the Zuffa umbrella. Just because he had piss poor management shouldn’t block his entrance into the Hall of Fame. While he may have fought a lot of inferior fighters he also defeated many of the best heavyweights of his time.
He was the 2001 Rings Absolute Class Tournament winner, he defeated future hall of famer Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira to capture the Pride Heavyweight Championship in 2004, a title he would hold until the end of the organization. He was the 2004 Pride Heavyweight Grand Prix Champion and the one and only WAMMA Heavyweight Champion!! That was a joke, but anyway with a career record of 34-4 that included an incredible 27 fight winning streak that spanned over nine year time, Emelianenko deserves to be inducted.
Jens Pulver- Before we get into the fact that Pulver is still fighting way past his prime; let’s remember that at a time he was one of the best lightweight fighters in the world even though he was never truly a 155lb. fighter. His overall record is now 26-17-1, but he has also lost 11 of his last 16 fights. It’s tough to watch him get beat by guys he would’ve thrashed years ago, but he’s a grown man and it’s his decision to keep fighting.
His UFC record is 6-2-1 with wins over BJ Penn, Caol Uno and Dennis Hallman to his credit. He won the vacant UFC lightweight title against Uno and successfully defended it twice. He also fought an exciting style and maybe that’s why he has fallen on such hard times, but he meant a lot to the lower weight fighters when they weren’t getting the attention they deserved. His WEC featherweight title fight against Urijah Faber remains his last great bout even though he came up short.
Don Frye- The Predator was one of the early stars of the UFC. His very first fight was fought inside the Octagon way back in February of 1996 against Thomas Ramirez. Frye would win that bout in just eight seconds via knockout. He would fight ten more times for the organization winning all but one of them to finish at 10-1. His lone loss came at the hands of Mark Coleman at UFC 10.
What you have to remember is that all 11 of his UFC bouts were contested in just 10 months. He fought three times in three nights on three separate occasions. That is the mark of a true Ultimate Fighter in my opinion. Along the way he defeated Gary Goodridge (2x) and Tank Abbott. He would win the UFC 8 tournament and the Ultimate Ultimate 96 tournament. He was also a UFC 10 tournament finalist. He also fought 6 times in Pride going 3-3 with wins over Ken Shamrock and Gilbert Yvel.
I’m sure there are others who I failed to mention, but I wanted to keep this brief. As far as future hall of famers I can see Forrest Griffin, Stephan Bonnar and BJ Penn as three of the next fighters to be inducted when their time comes.