With the announcement that Tito Ortiz will be inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame, people are left wondering who else is deserving of such a spot? Or who else is on track to end up in the HOF along with the likes of Randy Couture, Royce Gracie, Matt Hughes and Chuck Liddell? And what does it take to be considered to be inducted?
While arguments can be made for many fighters from the past and present; like pound-for-pound lists, there is an unclear set of standards that fighters must meet in order to be considered. The P4P debates all have subjective topics and vary from one fan to the next, and the Hall of Fame isn’t treated or viewed any differently.
The Hall of Fame inductees that already have sewn their legacy into the sport, have all had different connections to MMA. Even the late Charles “Mask” Lewis, who never stepped foot in the Octagon to fight, has been honored in the HOF. Rightfully so, considering the TapouT brand he created has certainly played a huge part in the success of the sport and of the UFC.
But now with Tito Ortiz joining, one might start to wonder how much does legacy play, more than statistical accolades. Tito’s career record is 16-10-1; a record that is decent, but nothing special, especially in the trends of the new and younger fighters. It is worthy to note that all but one of those fights were in the UFC though, and Mark Coleman (a current HOF inductee) has the same record, minus the draw. His rivalry with Chuck Liddell and overall involvement in the UFC has been substantial, and he did have quite a reign back in the day.
But some people have brought up different names that they think should go into the HOF down the road. One controversial one stands out, and that is Brock Lesnar. Lesnar is a WWE superstar, and a former UFC Heavyweight champion. His title shot and time spent in the Octagon was consistently scrutinized, but he showed a unique athleticism and determination despite dealing with tremendous health issues.
Lesnar’s MMA record is only 5-3, which is relatively pitiful over a four-year span. However, this is not to take away his abilities, because he did have great victories in the cage. After being seemingly unstoppable, his credibility dropped in some people’s eyes following his fight with Cain Velasquez. After being beaten down by Cain, and then beaten by Alistair Overeem, Lesnar decided to hang it up and go back to the WWE.
So does Lesnar deserve to be put in the UFC Hall of Fame?
First, despite his unimpressive record, Lesnar did do something very significant for the UFC. He brought fans to the stands, and created a merging bridge between the UFC and the WWE. Fans of Lesnar from the WWE started to become more aware of the UFC and many wrestlers became involved/talked about MMA more than they ever did before. Lesnar brought over fans that would order the pay-per-view just to see him fight, but for real this time. His unique body-build, secretive and brash personality and personal life, and actual athleticism intrigued many to see how he would do, and continues to draw people to him.
He sold some of the most profitable and successful pay-per-views and events in the history of the UFC, and did attain the title of the biggest weight class in the UFC. He also headlined UFC 100, one of the biggest landmarks of UFC history. Some people think that the heavyweight division of any combat sports is the most prestigious, and if so, Lesnar was on top for a while. His presence brought more awareness to the Heavyweight division, which for a time was looking not as shiny as it did in the past and didn’t carry as much allure as it does currently.
So does his contribution to the financial success and awareness of the UFC merit an induction to the UFC HOF?
Some might think so, others probably don’t think he belongs/belonged in MMA to begin with. It all depends on what values and stats are being prioritized and given importance. It plays along the same lines as the debate over which is perceived better; a one-time champion with four defenses, or a two-time champion with two defenses each time?
Brock Lesnar has undoubtedly left his mark on MMA, but the debate will remain if he has done enough to be considered Hall of Fame material. Time will tell, but for now, we will induct Tito Ortiz as the ninth UFC Hall of Famer come July 7th, 2012.
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