I’ve heard a lot of talk in the last few weeks regarding Hall of Fames in mixed martial arts. It started with Jack Encarnacao asking if Maurice Smith was deserving of being inducted in to the UFC Hall of Fame. Then on “Beatdown,” TJ De Santis brought up the UFC Hall of Fame not being a “true” Hall of Fame. How likely is it we ever see a true hall for MMA like baseball, football, hockey, and so on? -- Scott in Des Moines
TJ De Santis, Sherdog Radio Network program director: The idea of a true mixed martial arts Hall of Fame is incredibly interesting. It poses numerous questions: How many fighters would go into the first class? Who would do the voting? What would the criteria be for induction? Would there be a physical building to actually see plaques of legends?
Jared Koll and I hypothesized about this on Wednesday’s “Beatdown.” Sadly, I think we found more negatives to this forming than positives. Right now, we have the UFC Hall of Fame, however, it is a UFC Hall of Fame and not one for the whole sport. I think most people would say Kazushi Sakuraba is an MMA Hall of Famer, but has no real place in a UFC or Zuffa Hall of Fame.
If a true Hall of Fame for mixed martial arts ever gets done, it will have to fall on the shoulders of the mixed martial arts media. If an independent third party tried to create one, I think it would be looked upon like another ill-fated WAMMA: A good idea, executed horribly, possibly even with a hidden agenda.
There are a few problems with this project being in the media’s hands, most notably, who would front the money? The media is far from united or organized. Plus, this idea would also be met with opposition. I think Dana White would have to be inducted into the first class of inductees. However, what are the odds that Dana would accept that honor? It would fly in the face of the UFC Hall of Fame, and we all know how Mr. White feels about things that oppose his own thoughts and ideas about the sport.
There is a real need for an MMA Hall of Fame. Halls tell the future MMA fans who and why someone was great. The sport in its modern form is coming up on its 20th birthday. I think there is about 15 years of the sport that you can consider “the modern era.” There are a handful of fighters that are no-brainers. Some still have question marks on their careers and legacies. A yearly class of inductees would help tell a better story of the sport’s history.
I am not sure if this will happen soon or ever. The topic of who is in and out is something that will always get a buzz going. However, until the media gets motivated we will just have to settle for who the UFC tells us were the stuff of legend.
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