There is a lot of talk about the UFC Hall of Fame, and whether or not it has validity of being a true Hall of Fame. Critics have a point: Some of the best MMA fighters of all time never fought in the UFC, so how can that be called a real HOF? That being said, here is the who I think would belong in the first ever class of the MMA Hall of Fame
(Note: Just like other Hall of Fame's, the fighter must be retired from active MMA)
1. Fedor Emelianenko (34-4-1)
Titles held: Pride HW champion (1 time and last champion), 2004 Pride HW Grand Prix champion, RINGS Openweight Championship (1 time, last champion), RINGS 2001 Absolute class champion, RINGS 2001 Openweight champion, WAMMA HW champion (first and last)
Notable losses: Bigfoot Silva, Fabrico Werdum, Dan Henderson
Not much has to be said about "The Last Emperor". For a decade, Fedor reigned supreme over the HW division. While critics say he can't be the greatest of all time as he never fought in the UFC, Fedor knocked off multiple UFC champions and 12 top ten opponents in his career. As an undersized HW, Fedor finally fell from grace with 3 straight losses before picking up 3 wins on the independent circuit before finally calling it quits. Fedor is a first ballot hall of famer.
2. Chuck Liddell (21-8)
Titles held: UFC LHW Champion (1 time, 4 title defences)
The godfather of the sprawl and brawl, "the Iceman" remains one of the most dominant LHW's in MMA history. Liddell still holds the UFC record for wins at LHW (16) and went on two separate 7 fight win streaks in his career. Liddell had a rock solid chin for most of his career, and always put on an exciting fight. For those who haven't seen him fight Pele in Brazil, that fight is a must watch.
3. Randy Couture (19-11)
Titles held: UFC HW Champion (3 times), UFC LHW Champion (2 times), UFC 13 HW tournament winner.
"The Natural", "Capitan America", whatever you want to call him one thing is for certain: Randy was the original gangster of MMA. Titles in two different divisions, not to mention being the oldest guy ever to win a UFC title, it's hard not to respect Randy Couture. To put into perspective how good Randy was, he was voted the Most Valuable MMA fighter in 2007...at the age of 43.
4. Matt Hughes (45-9)
Titles held: UFC WW champion (2 times, 7 total defences)
Largely considered the most dominant Welterweight of all time, Matt Hughes holds so many UFC records I might need another fanpost just to list them. Most wins in UFC history (18) Most wins in the WW division (18) Tied with Anderson Silva for most finishes in UFC history (13) Most WW title defences (7). Beyond that, Hughes put together two different 6 fight win streaks in the UFC, and defeated all but one WW champion while active (Pat Miletich eluded him). Hughes is a first ballot Hall of Famer hands down.
5. Royce Gracie ( 14-2-3)
Titles held: UFC Tournament champion (3 times).
Notable losses: Matt Hughes. Kazushi Sakuraba.
Royce Gracie is best known for running through the first 4 UFC tournaments by tapping out anyone who came near him. He had some epic fights in those tournaments, most notably beating Dan Severn with the first ever Triangle Choke finish in UFC History. His 90 minute bout with Kazushi Sakuraba in Pride is legendary.
6. Kazushi Sakuraba (26-16-1-2)
Titles held: UFC Japan HW Tournament Winner
In his prime, Saku was a killer. Known for destroying most of the Gracie family, Saku was crafty with submissions and had a solid chin to go along with his elite grappling. Saku was also fearless, fighting guys from WW all the way to HW and having success at all levels. While Saku's legacy was a bit tarnished with his crushing losses late in his career, fans will always remember Saku for being the first real JMMA superstar.
7. Bas Rutten (28-4-1)
Titles held: King of Pancrase Openweight champion (3 times), UFC HW champion (1 time).
Notable wins: Kevin Randleman, Frank Shamrock, Masakatsu Funaki, Minoru Suzuki, Maurice Smith, Guy Metzger.
Notable losses: Masakatsu Funaki, Frank Shamrock, Ken Shamrock.
The Godfather of the liver shot, "El Guapo" rose to fame in Japan in the hybrid wrestling organization of Pancrase. After a run of devastating knockouts, Bas was invited to the UFC where he won the UFC HW title in a controversial decision over Kevin Randleman. Knee injuries forced Bas to retire before his UFC career really took off, but he will forever be remembered as a MMA legend for his destruction of the fighters in Pancrase.
8. Frank Shamrock (23-10-2)
Titles held: UFC MW (LHW) champion (1 time, 4 defences), Interim King of Pancrase (1 time), WEC LHW champion (1 time), Contenders LHW champion (1 time) Strikeforce MW champion (1 time).
Notable wins: Bas Rutten, Minoru Suzuki, Masakatsu Funaki, Enson Inoue, Jeremy Horn, Tito Ortiz, Cesar Gracie.
Love him or hate him, you can't deny that Frank Shamrock is one of the greatest MMA fighters of all time. Just like Bas, Frank got his start over in Pancrase before coming over to the US to make a splash, and what a splash he made. Shamrock won a title in almost every promotion he was ever in. While he vacated the UFC title due to "lack of competition" only to go 3-3 in his departure, no one can deny that Shamrock left his mark on the world of MMA.
9. Rickson Gracie (11-0)
Titles held: Vale Tudo Japan Champion (1994 and 1995)
Notable wins: Yuki Nakai, Rei Zulu, Masakatsu Funaki.
Notable losses: None.
Possibly the greatest BJJ player to ever walk the earth, and certainly the best to ever compete in MMA, Rickson Gracie is best known for his Vale Tudo and early Pride days. With a perfect record of 11-0 with 11 submissions, it’s no wonder Rickson was feared by anyone who was unlucky enough to get into a ring with him. As the documentary "Choke" showed, Rickson lives and breathes Jiu Jitsu, and the late great Helio Gracie acknowledged that Rickson was the best at BJJ in the Gracie family. Even though Rickson is in his mid-50's, people still consider him to be amongst the best BJJ grapplers on earth.
Next five in: Tito Ortiz, Ken Shamrock, Mark Coleman, Wanderlai Silva, Pat Militech