If you have ever been to Cooperstown, NY then you know that there is not much reason to go there unless you are visiting the Baseball HOF, same with Canton, OH, and to some extent true for Springfield, MA home of the NFL, and NBA HOF's respectively. Yet each year around 350,000 people go to the Baseball HOF, and 190,000 to NFL HOF to pay homage to the hero's of the sport and celebrate the great moments that define each generations memories of the sport.
I think the time is right for UFC to establish a home for the UFC Hall of Fame that fans can visit. I say this in part, because I feel that the entire Hall of Fame week could be a massive event for the UFC, and give them a great opportunity to showcase the sport.
When I speak of establishing a physical Hall of Fame building, that is just part of it, there is also the event that goes around the induction of the legendary fighters to be inducted. First I will talk about the HOF, then I will talk about the events to surround the induction.
How to pick fighters -
- Fighters must be out of UFC for at least 3 years. I say that they only must be out of UFC, because guys like Dan Severn are still fighting in regional shows, even though it is clear that he is not coming back to UFC anytime soon. Baseball has a similar rule that guys can be playing in an independent league, but as long as they are out of the Major Leagues for 5 years then they can be inducted.
- Establish a Panel of Media, and current UFC HOF members to do the voting. Dana, Lorenzo, Joe Silva, and Frank can also get votes
o I know this would be a hard sell to get by Dana White because it would go against his use of the Hall of Fame to market fights, but media members like Kevin Iole, Luke Thomas, etc, and even Joe Rogan, and Goldie would be a great source to give credibility to the process.
o Current HOF members could also be given a vote. These are guys who understand greatness, and what it takes to join their elite group. I think they should have a vote
- Fighters from both UFC, and PRIDE would be eligible.
o UFC owns the video library for PRIDE, so they might as well acknowledge that the greatest fighters of the late 1990's and early 2000's deserve some credit.
o Yes, I am saying that Fedor would be eligible for induction... but also guys like Sakuraba could be inducted.
o PRIDE consideration would also help guys like Wandy, Cro Cop, Big Nog, and Shogun who have had good UFC runs, but their PRIDE accomplishments would put them over the top for a spot in the HOF.
- Establish rooms in the HOF that would pay homage to all the martial arts pioneers from each discipline. There could easily be rooms for BJJ, Wrestling, Muay Thai, K1, Judo, TKD, Sambo, and Karate. Legends from each sport could be inducted into their wing of the UFC HOF.
Now I will talk about the event that will surround the HOF inductions
- Two weeks prior to HOF inductions UFC holds a show on FX that shows the top 5 KO, and Submission of the year candidates. They do not need to show the whole fights, just the part leading up to the moment. UFC will also nominate 3-4 fighters for Newcomer of the year (guys with less than 2 UFC fights entering the year), and 3-4 Cards for best show of the year. After the show fans will be able to vote by text, UFC.com, or foxsports.com for the winner.
- One week prior to the HOF inductions UFC hold a show on FOX that has the 4 or 5 best fights of the year. This show would also highlight 2 or 3 fighter's for UFC fighter of the year. Once again, at the end of the show, fans can vote for the winner by Text, UFC.com, or Foxsports.com.
o This would undoubtable put some of UFC's biggest stars on Free TV, and give casual fans a chance to see them at their best. Think about 2011, Hendo/Shogun, Cruz/Faber, Edgar/Maynard, Guida/Bendo would all have been on this show.
o Hardcore fans would not think twice about inviting all their friends over to watch this show, because they know for sure it is going to deliver great fights.
o It helps fans with the debate for best fight of the year because they can watch them all in one night. I often feel like fights that happen early in the year are not given much credit by the time the end of the year comes around.
- The week of the HOF inductions, UFC could hold it's fighter summits, so that every fighter on the roster can be in town.
- The inductions, and awards could be given out in a full up ESPY's/Oscars/Grammy's style event with UFC stars, and celebs on the Red Carpet. I would shoot for a Thursday night for this event.
- Ideally the HOF inductions would be done on FOX, but even if it was on FX I think it would still be a big hit.
- Friday after the HOF inductions hold a fan expo, and weight-ins, in conjunction with a big PPV.
- Saturday hold a PPV where the HOF inductees are honored again with a quick in-cage recognition. All the other sports hold an exhibition game for their HOF ceremonies, why not blow that out of the water with one of the bigger PPVs of the year.
Overall Benefits of the Established HOF, and the Event Surrounding it
- Fans have a place to go for a great UFC experience. Las Vegas has much more to offer for a vacation, and tourist attraction than Cooperstown, Springfield, or Canton, so I would not be surprised if UFC could put a feather in it's cap by outdrawing the big boys relatively quickly with their HOF.
o UFC could also help take care of their legends, by throwing them a little cash here and there to make appearances, and sign autographs.
- Establishing a Fight / Fighter / Newcomer / KO / Sub of the year as voted on by the fans.
o First I think that the shows highlighting these fights would be pure money, with guaranteed action and good publicity for the stars of the sport.
o Secondly, I think the marketing angle would only help. Imagine if UFC could market Anderson Silva as a 2 x fighter of the year, and how many do you think Jon Jones could win by the time he is done. UFC could have seen Jon Jones rise from Newcomer of the year to Fighter of the year in a very short period of time. UFC is short on Big Time stars, and a well produced and put together event could help cultivate the next generation of stars.