ATLANTA, GA - FEBRUARY 16: UFC President Dana White speaks with the media after a press conference promoting UFC 145: Jones v Evans at Philips Arena on February 16, 2012 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)
UFC president Dana White has never been shy about sharing his feels about - well, just about anything. At a luncheon at the Palms that was attended by some media members, Dana was asked about the UFC Hall of Fame and whom he thinks should be inducted. He named two fighters that are winding down their careers, both pioneers and former champions. Tito Ortiz and B.J. Penn. Here's what he said about his former client Tito, who believes his bout with Forrest Griffin at UFC 148 will be the last of his career (via MMA Fighting):
"Despite my personal problems with Tito, he belongs in," said White. "He was the champion when we first bought this thing. The fact that Tito is still here, Tito and I have had our moments, but it doesn’t change what he did for the company."
"The beef between me and Tito, Chuck and Tito, the fact is, that played a huge role in helping making this thing as big as it is."
His thoughts on Baby Jay are after the jump.
"Definitely," White said when asked if Penn belongs in the Hall. "The thing about B.J. Penn is that what he brought to the lightweight division, there was a point in time when we first bought this company when people thought guys in the lighter weight divisions couldn’t be stars and couldn’t see pay-per-views and couldn’t cross over. B.J. Penn was definitely that first crossover guy for us."
The UFC HoF is the creation of a company and obviously isn't meant to be compared to the HoF's of major sports. Still though, the debate about who and who should not be inducted is always fun to have. B.J. and Tito seem like shoe-ins, but what about Frank Shamrock? Evan Tanner? Pat Miletich? There are obviously a ton of candidates that are still active as well. Speaking of active, Dana also addressed Penn's retirement:
He’ll be back. It’s tough, when there are 16,000 people in the arena chanting your name, it’s tough to walk away from that. B.J. Penn is a fighter. You hear some of these guys, and Tito was one of these guys, he said he wanted to be famous. B.J. Penn is a fighter.
Who would you induct into the UFC Hall of Fame if you could make the choice?