With former UFC champions Tito Ortiz and B.J. Penn both coming to the ends of their storied careers it makes sense to start looking forward to their eventual admittance into the organization’s Hall of Fame. In reality, that date will come sooner than later considering Ortiz’s plan to hang his gloves up after a July fight with Forrest Griffin and Penn still stating he’s enjoying his recent retirement.
UFC President Dana White echoed similar sentiments last week in a conversation with MMAFighting where he discussed the HoF credentials of each iconic athlete.
“Despite my personal problems with Tito, he belongs in,” said White who nearly boxed Ortiz for charity one time at the peak of their rivalry. “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 (Liddell) and Tito, the fact is, that played a huge role in helping making this thing as big as it is.”
Turning to Penn, White pointed out the impact “The Prodigy” had being along the lines of Royce Gracie’s from the standpoint of showing an impressive level of technique and tenacity despite his stature.
“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. Penn was definitely that first crossover guy for us,” admitted White of Penn’s role in the UFC’s development into a billion-dollar business.
White didn’t reveal specific plans to induct Penn and Ortiz into the Hall of Fame though an opportunity to do so is set for this summer at UFC 148. In addition to featuring Ortiz’s final fight on the lineup, the card is the deepest in recent memory with a ton of other notable tilts including title-fights between Anderson Silva-Chael Sonnen and Urijah Faber-Dominick Cruz, plus comes with the added bonus of a Fan Expo similar to those where other Hall of Fame announcements have been made in the past.
PHOTO CREDIT – UFC