Oct. 28, 2011; Las Vegas, NV, USA; UFC welterweight fighter B.J. Penn during weigh ins for UFC 137 at the Mandalay Bay event center. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-US PRESSWIRE
Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) created a Hall of Fame to honor the legends of mixed martial arts (MMA), fighters who went above and beyond inside the Octagon (and out) to help make the sport what it is today, as well as what it can be for future generations.
Among those inducted are former Light Heavyweight Champion Chuck Liddell, former Welterweight Champion Matt Hughes, former Heavyweight Champion Randy Couture and UFC pioneers Ken Shamrock and Royce Gracie, among others.
And if it's up to promotion president Dana White, B.J. Penn will soon be there right alongside them.
From his conversation with MMA Fighting:
"Definitely. 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. 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."
Hear White's take on whether or not long time "Bad Boy" Tito Ortiz deserves a Hall of Fame nod, after the jump.
"Despite my personal problems with Tito, he belongs in. 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."
Despite their dominance and championship reigns in the early days of the UFC, both Penn and Ortiz have struggled against a new generation of fighters.
"The Prodigy," who is currently serving out his sentence following a self-imposed retirement, is 16-8 overall and is 1-3-1 over his last five bouts.
Things are even worse for "The People's Champion," who has just one win over the past five years and is coming off back-to-back technical knockout losses in the latter part of 2011.
Ortiz stands at 16-10 overall.
Let's get some feedback from the fans. Is everyone on board with White's assertion? And what is your criteria for getting a fighter into the UFC Hall of Fame?
What say you?