Former heavyweight champion Maurice Smith will be enshrined in the UFC’s Hall of Fame this summer.
The news was announced during the UFC Fight Night 108 broadcast on Saturday night. Smith will be inducted into the promotion’s “Pioneer” wing during a ceremony on July 6 as part of International Fight Week in Las Vegas. The “Pioneer” wing honors fighters who debuted prior to UFC 28 or Nov. 17, 2000. Smith joins Urijah Faber, who will be inducted into the “Modern Era” wing this summer, as the latest UFC Hall of Fame entrants.
A multi-time world champion as a kickboxer, Smith made waves when he shocked Mark Coleman via unanimous decision to win the heavyweight crown in his Octagon debut at UFC 14 on July 27, 1997. As far as milestones go, it was the first significant win for a striking-based fighter in a wrestling-dominated landscape. Prior to facing “The Hammer,” Smith had compiled a 3-7 record in other organizations, winning the Extreme Fighting Championships heavyweight crown along the way.
The Seattle native would defend the belt in his next outing with a stoppage of David Abbott at UFC 15 before dropping the title to Randy Couture via decision at UFC 15.5 “Ultimate Japan 1.” Smith posted a 4-3 record overall in the UFC, with his last appearance coming in a loss to Renato Sobral at UFC 28 on Nov. 17, 2000. Smith also competed for Strikeforce, International Fight League, Pride Fighting Championships, Rings, Sengoku and Pancrase over the course of his professional MMA career. Smith ended his tenure with a 12-14 career mark, but his impact was defined by more than his final record.
“It will be an honor to be inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame and be forever connected to this sport,” Smith said in a release. “I was the first world-class striker to win a UFC title because I worked with great training partners to evolve into a well-rounded fighter. I’m proud of the titles I won in MMA, but helping advance the game towards the mixed martial arts of today is my greatest accomplishment in the sport.”