In the build up to next weekend’s huge fight, between Conor McGregor and Chad Mendes, the UFC is hosting an entire week of martial arts related festivities, in Las Vegas.
UFC International Fight Week, as it is being called, promises to be an exciting festival of fan expo’s, fitness events and fights. Another event scheduled to take place, as part of the program, is the UFC Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony for the class of 2015.
The UFC Hall of Fame currently contains eleven fighters and Charles “Mask” Lewis, one of the founders of the Tapout clothing line. Lewis died in 2009.
This year, UFC President, Dana White has announced that he is revamping the process. There will now be four categories for induction. One inductee will be an mma pioneer era, one will be from the modern era, one will be a non-fighter or contributer, and an all-time great fight will be inducted as well.
White also announced that the UFC is in the early stages of planning for a physical hall of fame building, as the “hall” is currently not much more than a list.
The inductee’s for this year are as follows…
The name on the list that will be most familiar to modern fans is that of Penn.
The Hawaiian is one of only two men to win UFC titles in two divisions, becoming both the lightweight and welterweight world champion.
His record is a who’s who of mma. He fought Matt Hughes three times, winning twice, as well as Georges St. Pierre, Frankie Edgar, Sean Sherk, Lyoto Machida, Renzo Gracie and a whole host of others.
Penn actually made his professional mma debut in the UFC, something which is almost unheard of in the modern game. He entered the company on the back of becoming the first non-Brazilian to win a gold medal in the black belt division at the World Jiu-Jitsu championships. This just three years after he began studying the art.
“The Prodigy” is no misnomer.
The colourful Dutchman is a former UFC heavyweight champion, despite having fought in the organization on only two occasions, and will be the pioneer inductee.
Bas, who is currently one of the hosts of mma themed talk show Inside MMA, in the U.S, found out about his induction like this….
Bas was a champion with Japanese based organization Pancrase. The company was itself a pioneer in the sport. It was the one time home to future UFC stars Ken and Frank Shamrock, both of whom Bas collided with while in Japan.
Following a 19 fight win streak Bas made his way to the United States, making his UFC debut with a knockout win over Tsuyoshi Kohsaka. He won the vacant title in his very next fight, defeating Kevin Randleman via decision.
Unfortunately, his UFC career would be cut short by injury, in 1999.
In the aftermath of his career, Rutten became as famous for his personality as for his fighting prowess. His entertaining persona and in depth knowledge would earn him work as a commentator with a variety of mma organisations, and later as the host of, the aforementioned, Inside MMA.
Many fans will be familiar with Bas’ wonderful self defense tutorial video’s which are worth alerting people to at any opportunity, so here goes…….
Matt Hughes vs Frank Trigg – UFC 52
Dana White claims this is one of his all time favourite fights. “In four minutes-five seconds, it showed everything that is great about the UFC”, said White.
The fight, which took place in April 2005, was for the UFC welterweight title. It was the culmination of a bitter feud between the combatants, which had begun almost 18 months previous, when they fought for the first time. On that occasion Trigg had tapped out to a Matt Hughes rear naked choke. Trigg, however, was not happy with the outcome and over the next year made the rivalry extremely personal.
With this simmering bad blood as the background, the fighters contested one of the most dramatic one round fights ever seen in mma.
Hughes, who is a current hall of famer in his own right, was badly hurt by a volley of Trigg strikes early and looked on defeat’s door. Trigg tried to put the finishing touches to the champion via ground and pound assault before eventually switching to a submission attempt. Hughes was able to escape, however, to execute one of the most devastating slams of a decorated slamming career, before finishing the challenger with vicious strikes.
It was an incredible fight back, and a bout that deserves it’s place in history.
The late Blatnick enters into the hall of fame through the contributor category.
Blatnick was a Olympic Gold Medalist in Greco-Roman wrestling at the 1984 games. His association with mma, however, began when he came on board as a commentator for UFC 4. He would remain in that role until UFC 32.
Blatnick was also the commissioner of the UFC from 1998-2001. “This guy was a huge part of the UFC’s development in the 1990’s” said Dana White, who also spoke of Blatnick’s contribution to mma through his pushes for “unified rules and greater regulation”.