UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship) Hall of Fame
The sport of MMA is currently one of the fastest growing sports in the world. MMA which stands for mixed martial arts is a full contact combat sport that combines various fighting styles and techniques. The UFC helped bring the sport of MMA to a worldwide audience. So, like any other major sport organization, the UFC deserved a Hall of Fame to recognize the fighters, contributors and the best fights in company history that helped make the UFC and the sport of MMA what it is today. The UFC however has not been free of controversy during its time on top. First the comparison of MMA to human cockfighting greatly derailed the future of the UFC in its early days. The controversy that is still alive and well in the UFC today is the thought that the UFC has essentially made a monopoly in the MMA sports industry. The UFC hall of Fame is divided into four sections. First, the Pioneer wing which commemorates the fighters that made their professional debut before 1999 and helped shaped the UFC in its early days. Second, the modern wing which commemorates the fighters who made their debut after 2000 and helped shape the UFC in a more recent time frame. The third wing commemorates major contributors to the UFC and the last wing is dedicated to commemorating some of the best fights in company history. The UFC Hall of Fame is in Las Vegas, Nevada and is closed to the general public. The beautiful UFC Performance Institute located on the UFC campus is the home of the UFC hall of Fame.
Backstory and Context
The UFC held its first ever event in 1993 in Denver, Colorado. This day would be the start of a global phenomenon and an early introduction to the sport of MMA. The UFC was initially created as a tournament to see which fighting style/technique was the most dominant in the world. In these early days there were no weight classes, no rules and no time limit. So, These early fights in the UFC were very bloody and brutal. Lots of people were not ready to see this level and severity of combat on their TVs at home. So, the UFC and the sport of MMA were faced with large amounts of backlash and outcry. Former Senator John McCain even compared the sport to Human Cockfighting. This was almost a damnation to the sport of MMA and almost helped kill of the UFC before it even became super popular. However, after much internal deliberation the leaders of the UFC came up with weight classes, rules and time limits in order to sanction and regulate the sport of MMA comparable to the likes of the sport of boxing.
The UFC in regards to MMA is what the NFL is to the sport of Football. The best of the best MMA fighters sign and fight for the UFC. So, like any other sport the UFC wanted to create a Hall of Fame to commemorate the athletes, contributors and fights that helped shape the UFC into a global powerhouse. After Zuffa LLC sold the UFC to WME-IMG for $4 Billion in 2016 talks began to establish an actual physical location for the UFC Hall of Fame. Dana White the current President of the UFC decided that the Hall of Fame will be located in the UFC Performance Institute which is just one of the many locations that are present on the UFC campus in Las Vegas, NV. The UFC Hall of Fame is actually closed to the general public so access is only allowed for people who have ties with the UFC in business or people who actually work for the company. Also, regular civilians can access the UFC Hall of Fame if they are signed into the Performance Institute with either a worker from the UFC or a fighter from the UFC roster. The first people ever inducted to the UFC Hall of Fame were Royce Gracie and Ken Shamrock in 2003. From 2003 until July 2017 The UFC Hall of Fame was more of a ceremonial thing with just a press conference and a trophy and plaque for the person inducted but this changed with the building of the UFC campus and more importantly the building of the current physical home of the Hall of Fame which as mentioned before is the UFC Performance Institute.
The UFC Hall of Fame is divided into four major categories. First, the Pioneer wing which commemorates the fighters that made their professional debut before 1999 and helped shaped the UFC in its early days. Fighters in this wing include; Royce Gracie, Ken Shamrock, Dan Severn, Randy Couture, Mark Coleman, Chuck Liddell, Matt Hughes, Tito Ortiz, Pat Miletich, Bas Rutten, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, Don Frye, Maurice Smith, Kazushi Sakuraba, Matt Serra, and Rich Franklin. Second, the modern wing which commemorates the fighters who made their debut after 2000 and helped shape the UFC in a more recent time frame. Fighters in this wing include; Forrest Griffin, BJ Penn, Urijah Faber, Ronda Rousey, Michael Bisping, and Rashad Evans. The third wing commemorates major contributors to the UFC like the founders, early sponsors and legendary announcers who helped bring the UFC to life and is successful fruition. The people that can be found in this wing are; Charles Lewis, Jr, Jeff Blatnik, Bob Meyrowitz, Joe Silva, Bruce Connal and Art Davie. The last wing is dedicated to commemorating some of the best fights in company history. These fights helped bring a great amount of notoriety to the sport and are considered some of the greatest MMA fights of all time. Some of these fights even saved the UFC from utter bankruptcy in its earliest days. The first and most important fight was Forrest Griffin vs. Stephan Bonnar I, this fight helped the UFC remain alive as a company and essentially saved it financially because at one point the company was so fragile and at the point of collapse that this fight showed the worldwide audience that this sport is legitimate and should be recognized and followed like all the other major sports of the world. Some of the other legendary fights include; Matt Hughes vs. Frank Trigg II, Mark Coleman vs. Pete Williams, Shogun Rua vs. Dan Henderson, and Diego Sanchez vs. Clay Guida.
It is important to commemorate these fighters because they helped form the giant that the UFC is today. These athletes shed their blood, sweat and tears for this company and they deserve to always be remembered for it. They sacrificed their bodies in the name of the sport they love. Without some of these valuable people the UFC might not even exist today. So, the UFC knew it was the right thing to do to honor these people for the things they did for the livelihood of this company and sport. Today the UFC has a global reach that was never even imagined in its earliest of days. They control the global MMA market and its not even close. The UFC always finds a way to sign and horde the best fighters in the world to their organization. The high demand of MMA/UFC in the popular culture of today also leads to this market domination that the UFC has had the pleasure of having since the earliest part of this decade. Here is where another controversy comes to life for the UFC. The UFC by some is called a monopoly because the UFC buys out its competition and eventually ceases out the operations of these companies, that they buy out little by little. Some of the casualties of this have been Pride Fighting Championship, Strikeforce and World Extreme Cage fighting. This controversy will only continue to grow as the UFC also continues to expand and grow as a global brand and dominate the global MMA market even more than before.
Overall, the UFC Hall of Fame is an essential place that was needed for the ever-growing sport of MMA. The UFC needed to commemorate the people who helped shape the company from the ground up. The Hall of Fame is a memory site that is filled with an endless number of stories and lore. This Hall of Fame also helps the UFC compete with the legitimacy of the four other major sports of America. The UFC Hall of Fame is a place of legends and is a location that MMA/UFC fans around the world should hold close and dear to their hearts.
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