We haven’t heard a lot from Tito Ortiz since his latest nasty breakup with queen of pornstars Jenna Jameson resulted in some scurrilous accusations of PED usage. That was all tied into a child custody battle, which made the whole story one big downer. Fortunately, Tito came out the other side and is back to doing what he does best: talking shit about others for no real reason. This time it’s Stephan Bonnar, who Tito thinks isn’t worthy of sharing the Hall of Fame with him:
“Forrest Griffin deserves it. He beat me, and he beat some other really good guys. He was a world champion. He had some great fights. I think he deserves it. As far as Stephan, I have nothing against the guy, but you’ve got to be a world champion, I think, to be in the Hall of Fame.”
“That’s a big honor to be in the Hall of Fame. It means you had a significance in the sport at one time or another,” he continued. “You look at that, and the Forrest and Stephan fight was a big step for the UFC, so do they deserve it? Possibly. But can one fight get you in the Hall of Fame? I don’t know. I guess that’s Dana’s decision.”
First off, no one really cares about the UFC Hall of Fame, it’s more a Hall of Pique considering all the worthy fighters from UFC history that will never be allowed in due to political considerations. Dana White likes to use Tito Ortiz as an example of him not needing to like guys to work with them, and true enough Tito is in the Hall of Fame. But that probably has more to do with his induction happening during a period where they don’t actually hate the everloving shit out of each other. You get the feeling Dana would retroactively ditch Randy Couture from the Hall if he could.
So Tito should just be grateful that he’s in there at all. But I get it, once you’re in you want it to be an exclusive club: a collection of the greatest champions only (plus the ghost of terrible MMA clothing). Forrest doesn’t really apply because he held a belt for all of two seconds, but Tito can’t really shit on someone who beat him. Bonnar on the other hand…
But for all the lack of beltitude, I can’t help but feel Bonnar deserves his spot in the Hall of Fame just as much as Tito. While Tito kept the UFC alive through the Dark Ages, Bonnar lifted the sport out of them. “Oh, where’s your belt, dude who kicked off the MMA Renaissance???”
Forrest Griffin and Stephan Bonnar scrapped it out like warrior poets and through some strange kizmet their fight ignited a passion for the sport throughout North America. How many sports can pinpoint a moment like that where everything changed? And who wouldn’t induct the two guys responsible? Even if one of them was just a roughneck leather slinger?
To me, Stephan Bonnar is the embodiment of all other fighters who may never become champions but whose heart, determination, and grit make watching mixed martial arts great. Guys like him are the reason the prelims are often better than the main card. So honoring him in the UFC’s Hall of Fame seems like a no brainer in a world where many obvious no brainer entrants are overlooked.