To put it as simplistically as possible, we need a Mixed Martial Arts Hall of Fame.
During the continuing discussions of yesterday's post about the candidacy of Evan Tanner and others for the UFC Hall of Fame, I was reminded that we currently do not have a true Hall of Fame that operates in the same manner as all the major sports and with the continued growth of the sport, it's time we rectify that situation.
This is a call to all Mixed Martial Arts writers and industry leaders to band together and establish a complete and unbiased MMA Hall of Fame.
Not to lessen the accomplishments of those currently enshrined in the UFC Hall of Fame, but as one commentor on yesterday's piece accurately pointed out, getting elected to the UFC Hall of Fame is a private and prejudicial honor. No one outside of a Zuffa boardroom makes decisions about who gets in and truly representative and deserving inductees like Tito Ortiz or Pat Miletich will never - I repeat, NEVER - be awarded their rightful place there because of long-standing feuds with a certain bald gentleman with a fondness for F-bombs.
That truth only furthers how important and necessary a Hall of Fame created and administered in the same manner as those of the major sports is for Mixed Martial Arts.
We've proven the legitimacy of the sport and the continued growth will only further the need for a way to acknowledge the true greats and pioneers that have made the sport what it is today, regardless of how well they get along with Dana White and others at the UFC.
Instead of subjectively hand-picking who gets in and who doesn't, a voting system, comprised of esteemed writers and contributors to the sport fill out ballots, and everyone who receives a pre-determined number of votes is welcomed with open arms.
Even without an actual Hall of Fame to put fighters in, we spend countless hours debating the careers of established and retired fighters, or those in the twilight of their careers. Instead of simply discussing the point, why not establish an entity such as this and allow the Mixed Martial Arts community to cast their vote on whether Rich Franklin is a Hall of Famer?
Many want to see Mixed Martial Arts move into the major leagues of sports, and this to me would be a step in that direction. We have been around long enough and with enough sustained success in some areas that it is time we start paying tribute to those who helped us get here. Part of what makes the major sports major sports is their longevity and history. It's now clear that Mixed Martial Arts isn't going anywhere, so why not shed some light on where we came from?
Make no mistake: this is not simply a piece to start a discussion and have people debating who would get in and who wouldn't; this is something I plan to pursue, starting today, and I welcome anyone in the industry who wants to help or has already started down this path to email me at email@example.com to talk about this project. So I don't delete your email as junk, put "MMA Hall of Fame" in the subject line.
Now that that is out of the way, let the debates begin...