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Making the case for Evan Tanner to be inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame

During a public Q&A last week at the Sports USA Bar in Fort Bragg, North Carolina, UFC President Dana White revealed that the promotion is expected to decide soon on which fighter will be inducted into its Hall of Fame.

This past March, Mark Coleman, one of the organization’s most dominant heavyweight champions, was inducted at UFC 82.

With a new nominee potentially to be decided upon soon, I began to think about which fighter is most deserving. Keep in mind that the UFC decides who and who won’t be enshrined in its Hall, however, as a fan, I can certainly express an opinion.

While I believe that Pat Miletich and Frank Shamrock are the two candidates most deserving based on merit, the reality is that neither is on good terms with the current ownership of the UFC and both are unlikely to have their past contributions acknowledged anytime soon. Before they can receive an honor as esteemed as induction to the UFC’s Hall of Fame, we need to get to a place where Mike Goldberg and Joe Rogan are allowed to talk about them on TV.

Since politics could be a factor in the nomination process, it’s wise to think from a realistic perspective and support a candidate with a legitimate chance. For what it’s worth, my support is going to the late Evan Tanner.

Tanner may not have the ideal resume needed for an inductee, but he began his professional MMA career in an environment that is varies greatly from the current incarnation of the sport.

The Texas native broke into the sport at a time when the sport was commonly referred to as “No Holds Barred.” The term “mixed martial arts” wouldn’t be adopted until several years after he began to compete.

While Tanner’s first fight was just slightly over ten years ago, that might as well be a completely different era based on how fast MMA has grown in that time. And being that Tanner comes from a different era, the standards in which he is judged for an honor such as the Hall of Fame should be different than the criteria you’d apply to a fighter whose peak transpired during the current era.

In the mid-90’s, there really weren’t any fight camps teaching MMA as a style of its own. Fighters looking to become well rounded had to piecemeal their training by running all over the place working their ground at one gym while going to another gym to work their standup.

But going to different camps was only a situation that transpired if a fighter was willing to become a complete fighter — which was not always the case in the 90’s. Back then it wasn’t uncommon to see a fighter break into the sport after having trained in just one discipline.

In today’s world, an accomplished amateur wrestler such as Ben Askren is going to train for a prolonged period time before he debuts in MMA. But if this was ’96, someone such as Askren probably would have gone from the Olympics straight to the Octagon a month later.

It really wasn’t until the formation of Miletich Fighting Systems by Miletich in which we would see all components of the sport taught under the same roof.

For Tanner, his introduction to the sport didn’t come inside of a fight gym, as his transformation from an amateur wrestler to a professional fighter took place in his garage. And he didn’t have someone like Miletich as his instructor, instead opting to learn the art of fighting courtesy of his VCR via instructional tapes produced by the Gracie family.

When talking about UFC fighters that began competing for the promotion during the pre-Zuffa era, the pioneer aspect of a fighter’s contributions to the sport should be taken into consideration. Tanner was a man ahead of his time, working hard towards becoming a dual-threat on the ground and on his feet. While the ground was Tanner’s strength, his striking was very respectable by early-2000s standards.

Fighters from the pre-TUF era are going to face many obstacles when it comes to garnering deserved recognition from the sport’s new generation of fans. They will be judged by the standards that exists for the sport’s current era and in many regards, they are standards that even the most skilled and accomplished of fighter from the NHB era will have a hard time living up to.

A fighter such as Tanner faced issues that include but are not limited to fewer weight classes, limited of accessibility to world class training, certain victories lacking luster because their opponent was a victim of under-exposure, and not having an overly-impressive record due to competing on an infrequent basis.

When Tanner started out, he was fighting men much heavier than him such as Heath Herring, Paul Buentello, and Justin McCully because you either fought over 200 pounds or under. There was need to cut to 185 pounds at the time because the weight class hadn’t been invented yet. Even in spite of the weight disparity, Tanner still recorded victories over the aforementioned three.

And there are wins on Tanner’s record which might have little relevance in today’s era of MMA but meant a lot at the time. The average American MMA fan has never heard of Ikuhisa Minowa but he’s a household name amongst the Japanese MMA and professional wrestling scene.

When Tanner defeated “Minowaman,” the Japanese fighter didn’t have the best record (and he still doesn’t) but it was a high-profile victory that meant something at the time. Tanner’s 1999 win over Daryl Gholar falls into a similar category. Gholar is currently a top wrestling coach for MMA but prior to becoming a coach, he was a fighter. And prior to fighting, he represented the U.S. Olympic team as an alternate in 1988 and was captain of the 1986 U.S. World Team.

Gholar isn’t a household name these days unless you’re a fighter looking for top-level wrestling instruction. He also finished his MMA career with a 5-6 record, but it was still a big win for Tanner considering he was facing a world class wrestler during a time in which being world class in just one style was enough to make you a threat.

Wins over Minowa, Gholar, and Homer Moore transpired during a time in which the media paid little attention to MMA and fighters didn’t have the benefit of being built up through a marketing machine. Not to mention that during Tanner’s heyday, fighting opportunities were often scarce and a fighter that wanted to remain active was often forced to accept fights against competitors of all shapes, sizes, and experience level.

But even in spite of some of the issues that are inherent to a fighter’s resume that was built up during the pre-Zuffa era of the UFC, Tanner still has strong credentials. Not only was he a former UFC middleweight champion but he held the USWF heavyweight title while also becoming the first-ever winner of the Pancrase Neo-Blood tournament. Meanwhile, victories over Robbie Lawler, Phil Baroni, and David Terrell during MMA’s current era also carry a lot of meaning.

At the time, Lawler, Baroni, and Terrell were all top contenders in the UFC middleweight division. Maybe his win list could be a little more impressive, but Tanner could only fight those that were put in front of him. When Tanner won the UFC middleweight title in 2005 against Terrell, there weren’t nearly as many shows or anywhere near as many fighters under contract.

Outside of the cage, Tanner’s struggle with his own personal demons is well-chronicled. However, he primarily hurt only himself as opposed to others. And despite some bad decisions that had an adverse effect on his career, he was still good enough to have accomplished a great deal.

When you look at Tanner’s career from a panoramic perspective, it would appear his only fault when it comes to garnering public support to be inducted in the UFC Hall of Fame might be that his peak occurred before the sport had reached its own.

Tanner gave a lot to the sport of MMA during times in which it gave him little in return. Now that he’s gone, there are very few ways to repay him for the impact he made. One of the few ways to give him the recognition he so richly deserves is by making him the latest fighter to be inducted into the UFC’s Hall of Fame.

  • KOB says:

    Amazing article.

  • Eric says:

    I couldn’t agree more, Sam. I would be shocked if Tanner wasn’t the choice for induction.

  • UhUmWellUm says:

    Sam, articles like that are why you broke the traffic record and the CBS thing happened….smart, on-point & a good read…..if Zuffa doesn’t do this….they are making a BIG mistake with me and hardcore mma fans alike…..thanks….

  • ctownhood says:

    Spot on Sam. Following the sport since its inception, I concur with all points.

  • Mike Wolfe says:

    Are there specific criteria for admission? Having some could reduce the chances of a fighter being blackballed because of a feud with the org.

    P.S. Thoughtful piece. Good read.

  • Ft. Dub says:

    Sam, all that is great, and of course with the caveat that you can only support people who you think have a realistic shot, then I guess it makes sense. However, I have to ask – if Evan Tanner hadn’t just died, would you really be making his case?

    I doubt it and that’s why I think we need to put his career on ice a while and come back to visit it in a few years and see if this point of view still rings true. I have a hard time it will be as strongly supported once the heart strings are a little harder to reach.

    Editor’s Note: Tanner deserves it on merit. His passing has nothing to do with my decision to make the case for him. The logic behind my decision to make the case has to do with the fact that his fighting days have ended. If he had retired, I’d be making the same case. So this has to do with his career having ended… it just so happens that his career ended under unfortunate circumstances.

  • Chad says:

    How could Pat Miletich not be in the UFC Hall of Fame? Who has done more for the sport of MMA. He is qualified as both a fighter and a coach. I would hope that the criteria for the hall does not consist only if Dana likes or dislikes you. Dana please do the right thing. I follow the Miletich fighters online and it sounds as if they have alot of really good fighters in Iowa but they are all being black balled due to the differences of Pat and Dana.

  • Seriously says:

    Ft. Dub, I could not disagree more.

    Put his career on ice and come back later ? Man, that’s the whole point, he ain’t comin’ back.

    You’d just discard and forget – this is not how a LEGITIMATE sport treats it’s greats.

    For example, just ONE, just ONE example of MANY, the octagon was REDESIGNED after Tanner’s loss to Ortiz. His contributions to making UFC a LEGIT sport should not be swept aside so carelessly and thoughtlessly.

    People who say Tanner doesn’t DESERVE induction just don’t KNOW. People who are keeping quiet about the issue altogether are people who are a little ashamed of the way they’ve dragged UFC down and damaged it’s credibility.

    But hey, some people dig fake “Reality” TV shows over substance. The only question at this point is, will UFC itself choose to go for the bucks, or have some guts.

  • Mike C. says:

    Completely for it. Tanner is one of my favorite fighters ever. His comeback was tough to watch but he definitely belongs IMO.

  • Imbecile says:

    Ft. Dub – I really think your point is the most sober and well thought out amongst these. I am a huge Evan Tanner fan, and always have been, which is why I hate to be one of the people saying he is undeserving. But I have a hard time believing the case for him being in the HOF above other fighters. Tanner is the sympathetic choice, but not necessarily the best choice.

    Sure, there is a case to be made for Evan Tanner, but if it were not such a tenuous case it wouldn’t need defending in an article like this one. It would simply be obvious to most every fan. The truth is that the biggest fights in Tanner’s career ended up as losses. He has memorable wins, but they weren’t the biggest fights he was in. His MW title was never won from a champion, and it was never successfully defended.

    Also, he was never a fighter that defined an era. While Tanner was certainly around much earlier than most of the modern fighters, he was not really an early pioneer of the sport in the same genre of Royce Gracie, Ken Shamrock, or Dan Severn. He wasn’t really in the first transitional group of UFC fighters, like Oleg Taktarov, Marco Ruas, Mo Smith, or Bas Rutten, that moved the sport beyond being dominated exclusively by the Gracies. Nor was he in the first era of true mixed-martial artists, with guys like Frank Shamrock, followed by Vitor Belfort and Tito Ortiz. He was closest to this group, but was not really a defining member.

    Also, I find it a bit disingenuous when people say that their reasoning isn’t affected by Evan Tanner’s death. Maybe they are telling the truth, but I just don’t believe them.

    Unfortunately, some of the most deserving are still so heavily involved with competitors to the UFC that they may not be available choices.

  • Imbecile says:

    I really believe that Dana, Lorenzo and Joe Silva should consider Pride accomplishments, as well. Since Zuffa now owns the remnants of Pride, they should make use of that extensive fight catalogue and make it an “MMA Hall of Fame.” Most every major accomplishment in MMA during most of those years happened in the UFC or Pride, so Zuffa would still be in the clear in selecting members from those organizations.

    I still think Mark Coleman’s HOF-worthy accomplishments happened in Pride, so why not acknowledge others. Guys like Sakuraba and Mark Kerr would make excellent choices, and are every bit as worthy as guys like Miletich and Rutten. They would also not be damaging to Zuffa’s current business in any way and might expose some newer fans to the rich, but fairly recent, history of the sport.

    I really believe at some point Pride accomplishments need to be invovled. What if Wanderlei Silva or Nogueira never won another match in the UFC? Their UFC accomplishments wouldn’t really be enough to put them in a UFC-exclusive HOF, but no MMA HOF would be complete without those two. I would really like to see Zuffa expand it to consider so many of the great Pride fighters. Maybe they could do 2 inductees per year.

  • Bullylover says:

    imbacile I agree & you made some really valid points. The Ufc really should make it a mma hall of hame. I mean wandelei dominated the pride middleweight division for 5 years a feat that very few other mma fighters have done besides chuck liddell & Matt Hughes. I also believe that Pat miletich should be chosen due to the fact that he was a great fighter in his own right and provided some of the best fighters & the most Ufc champions that the ufc has ever seen. If Dana & the others don’t consider Miletich then it truly proves that Dana is a dick & more worried about his public status than the history of mma.

  • matthew says:

    An honorary member for Tanner perhaps? As Miletich or Frank Shamrock is the only logical choice. Both NEED to be there.

    Please forget Bas. Funny guy. Great character for the sport. Not a UFC hall-of-famer.

    A compelling article though Sam.

  • MadCityChad says:

    “Also, I find it a bit disingenuous when people say that their reasoning isn’t affected by Evan Tanner’s death. Maybe they are telling the truth, but I just don’t believe them.”

    Totally agree Imbecile!

    There are at least a dozen pre-TUF fighters that have a better case than Tanner. I think you’re fooling yourself if you think his death has nothing to do with it.

    I’d compare Tanner to the late Sean Taylor of the Redskins. After 2-3 years of playing at a high level, he was killed and subsequently had his number retired and put on the ring of fame. He didn’t deserve that… but his death moved people to do the right thing.

  • JBAR says:

    I also think Don Frye would make a good cantidate. I think he was 10-1 in the UFC with his only loss coming against Mark Coleman in his prime. He won 2 tournaments and was the runner up in another. He was also one of the first wrestlers that cross trained in boxing and judo.

  • steve says:

    Excellent article. except one thing left out, lets not forget people his career record was 32-8. i mean thats no Fedor record, but it sure is spectacular. he is absolutely deserving of being inducted, the UFC would be fools not to do this.

    @JBAR: i agree Don Frye should definately be inducted later on. – Ultimate Ultimate 96 tourney winner, UFC 8 tourney winner, tied for fastest knockout record in UFC, & finished UFC career with 9-1 record inside the Octagon. But his induction shouldnt be until he retires, although i recall him also being on bad terms with Dana which might hold him back like Pat & Frank.

  • UhUmWellUm says:

    I think Tanner dying is also part of the point….it is a combination Merit / Goodwill Gesture on the part of the fans and the UFC…..

  • THORAZINE says:

    At 1st I was moved by Sam’s write up, brilliantly moving, then Imbecile made me re-think a few things… then I gathered my senses! They’re both right, Tito, Frank . Pat & vitor should be voted in along with Tanner. Let’s not forget Tanner had 17 fights in the UFC and a title during his career, that counts for something. Names mentioned like Militech and others should be inducted as well at the end of their career. Some names mentioned didn’t have more than 5 fights in the UFC. Also I don’t think the UFC alone should be responsible for inducting fighters into an MMA Hall of Fame, it should be comprised of others from other organizations or neutral affiliations, Dana White has enough power already.

  • Greg Jarvis says:

    RIP EVAN TANNER ! To say he is deserving is an understatement! Evan was a former world champion , an amazing fighter, but most importantly an AMAZING human being !!!! You will never be forgotten EVAN !!!!

  • Bucco says:

    Sam, its pieces like that, that make me come here everyday. As for Tanner I think its fitting that he would get it now over guys like Frank Shamrock and Militich. Both those guys would deserve it but you have to remember that its the UFC Hall-of-Fame not an MMA Hall-of-Fame. Wouldn’t criteria for acceptance be for things done while in the octagon and not necessarily in other organizations (I could be wrong). Dana White should not be the man to decide this as he has to much stubborn pride to be honest about it. That goes for Tanner as well but he has been since 2005 been seen as an “elderstatesman” of the UFC and should be treated as such. I don’t think the UFC is smart enough to induct guys like Frank and Pat but why should they induct someone into their prestigious (it is the only hall-of-fame) HOF if they are publicly against you? Matt Hughes (if he retires now), Dan Severn, hell I think its more likely Tito would get in the HOF before Frank Shamrock.

  • powz says:

    tanner was the man.great guy.met him once and he was all about talking to his fans and not just about mma.he should be in the hall of fame,if not this year hopefully next-rip evan tanner you are missed

  • Michael says:

    i have to agree that tanner should be in the hall of fame based on what he has done for the sport, but caplan is straight up lying if he says that his motivation to write such a piece is not influenced by tanners passing. come on…

  • Brandon says:

    Horrible article, the guy was an interesting character but if he were to go into the UFC hall of fame then why not induct every guy who stuck around during the old days.

    Tank Abbott did more for the UFC and accomplished more then Tanner. If they want an old school guy, I’d choose Don Frye, Mark Kerr or Maurice Smith waaay over Tanner.

  • Sergio Hernandez says:

    “Tank Abbott did more for the UFC and accomplished more then Tanner.”

    Um… no? Yeah, no.

  • JJ says:

    I can’t believe the amount of disrespect Evan still receives, the man was one of a kind, he was a warrior in every sense of the word. The man inspired me and I’m sure many others, and did a lot for MMA as well. RIP Evan, you will be missed.

    Evan Tanner: Future UFC Hall of Fame Inductee

    Doesn’t it sound great?

  • Mike Wolfe says:

    I reiterate: Are there criteria for admission? If so, what are they, and how do they apply to Tanner? If there aren’t any criteria, there should be.

  • Imbecile says:

    @ Mike Wolfe

    I definitely think it would be nice if there were some solid criteria for inductees to the HOF. Maybe in the years to come some formalized standard will be developed. But we also have to realize that this sport only recently came to a point of popularity where anyone would even care about a HOF. Plus, the UFC was little more than a decade removed from its very first event when it inducted Royce and Ken.

    There still are only 5 members, and one of them just fought a HW title match, and another is fighting this January. So it is a bit of a strange scenario, since most viable candidates’ careers are still active (many in other organizations).

    So I guess in this case, Evan Tanner’s passing presents an opportunity as an inductee who would not be actively competing in the UFC, or actively competing against UFC interests with a competitor, and is still a highly respected fighter. I still maintain that he is not the most deserving candidate (despite my respect for the guy), but he may just be the most available candidate. That isn’t exactly the best criterion for someone to be inducted into the HOF, but it may make the most sense at this time.

    But I do like the idea of some kind of honorary award or membership based on Tanner’s contributions. Kind of like those “Lifetime Achievement” Oscars they give out. I also think down the road those honorary awards might be extended to people like Big John McCarthy, and others who made a significant contribution to the sport, and should be recognized as such in the HOF.

  • bubbafat says:

    If you want to talk credibility, shouldn’t the UFC eventually induct all former champions from their organizations. Right down to Dave Menne and Carlos Newton. However, like every other sport, there is going to be guys that are more deserving of remembrance eg. Evan Tanner , and that’s why he belongs there.

  • bubbafat says:

    Tank never won a belt or beat anyone worth while. Dan Severn’s already in. Don Frye and Mo Smith are good choices, but Mark Kerr. Tanner was never gonna get in being a drunk so he made an attempt to turn his life around. Mark Kerr has to prove to me he isn’t a lost cause before I even think of him in the same category. This is about life choices “outside” the octagon too. Pat Militech and Frankie Shamrock … sure … but don’t hold your breath.

  • Brandon says:

    Mark Kerr accomplished more then Tanner did…

    Heck we can open a whole new ball game since technically UFC owns Pride… way more guys that deserve in before him.

    Why not Dan Henderson, Sakuraba, both former UFC tournament winners/champions.

    Tank did more as in brought in more fans and attention to the UFC. …

    Tanners only really big win was against Lawler… if that is the criteria why not induct Nick Diaz also?

  • Ft. Dub says:

    I still struggle putting the following names together:

    Gracie, Shamrock, Severn, Couture, Coleman and……Tanner?

    I think we need to realize that there’s quite a few names that need to be on that list before Tanner. By my estimation they include:
    Frank Shamrock
    Mo Smith

    Everyone who is talking about Evan Tanner now keeps talking about the same touchy feely stuff – great guy, one of a kind, etc. He DOES NOT have the merit as a fighter. Zero defense champion, most notable fights were his losses.

    This isn’t the MAKE A NICE MEMORY HALL OF FAME, its the UFC Fighter Hall of Fame. If we’re giving out touchy feelys, he should at least get in behind Big John.

  • bushswinger says:

    Beat Phil Baroni Twice. Was an exciting rivalry to watch, from the crazy ending of their first fight, to Tanner out classing him the second fight.
    Also he DID win his last round in the UFC against Kendal Grove.

  • Kyle says:

    Agreed. Evan was an absolute original, and found a way to gut out wins in a variety of ways; the sport has evolved drastically in the last five years, but Evan was a fascinating character and remarkably well rounded in his time.

  • Wayne says:

    Sam, you wouldn’t be writing this article if Tanner had not passed away. Simple as that.

    However, I do agree with you. Your article makes a lot of very good points. Tanner deserves this as a memorial. His dealings with the community are good reasons for his induction as well. He was always humble, and he let us see things that were normally not visible in MMA.

    Editor’s Note: Wayne, you do yourself great discredit when you try and put words in people’s mouths. Please speak for yourself and yourself only, because it is not simple as that and you are incorrect. I would have written the same article if Tanner was still alive and simply had retired. As you conveniently ignored, I stated in a previous post that with Tanner’s career having ended, we are able to analyze his fully body of work. The manner in which his career came to an end in this case is irrelevant. And when you analyze Tanner’s full body of work and you take into consideration that he began his career during a different era in the sport, he has the credentials worthy of an induction based solely on merit.

  • Sol says:

    I agree with the few saying that alot of people are jumping on the bandwagon because of Evan Tanner’s death but at the same time I also stand at the other waypoint of people saying he doesn’t deserve it because of other people being on the bandwagon.

    If you look at all the people from the previous era, basically all of them are not in a good standing with UFC. Whether that should have any merit is another question, what matters is we know Dana White would never willingly put someone in the hall of fame if he dont like them.

    There is less then a handful of fighters who fall under both banners: previous era and in Dana’s good books. Evan Tanner is the prominent of this pack of people.

  • THORAZINE says:

    Brandon. Mark Kerr??? he had 4 fights in the UFC… If there was an MMA hall of fame… ‘yes’ but not UFC…. IT’S UFC HOF NOT MMA HOF… some of u guys still don’t get it! Let get our thinking caps on now”’ all together please.

    ANYONE WITH 5 or So fights should not be recognized in the UFC, unless ur a 5 time champion or UFC ICON…

  • THORAZINE says:

    Brandon. Mark Kerr??? he had 4 fights in the UFC… If there was an MMA hall of fame… ‘yes’ but not UFC…. IT’S UFC HOF NOT MMA HOF… some of u guys still don’t get it! Let get our thinking caps on now”’ all together please.

    ANYONE WITH 5 or So fights should not be recognized in the UFC HOF, unless ur a 5 time champion or UFC ICON…

  • platypus says:

    great article

  • tim says:

    thank you for this article, sam. it is one of the best pieces i’ve read in some time. very well said, and very well presented. Evan Tanner, UFC HOF…would be more than deserved.

  • Joe says:

    In my mind Matt Hughes deserves to be inducted into the hall of fame.

  • Brandon says:

    Thorazine -> Yup and with those 4 fights he accomplished more then Tanner… not hating Tanner he was an interesting cat.

    I would induct him in the Hall of Fame of Gatekeepers along side with Elvis Sinosic, Chris Lytle, Karo Parisyan and Heath Herring….

    Beating Phil Baroni isn’t some kind of accomplishment that makes you HOF material…

  • Spencer Kyte says:

    You make a compelling case Sam and I believe you’re genuine when you say you’d have written the piece even if Tanner was still alive.

    Personally, I don’t see Tanner as a Hall of Famer. Citing his being a former champion isn’t enough, especially because he won a vacant title and lost the belt in his first defense. If Murilo Bustamante doesn’t go to Pride, Tanner never wears the belt.

    Yes he had some exciting fights in those early years when the UFC wasn’t on Reality TV and those accomplishments shouldn’t be diminished, but the whole of his career isn’t Hall of Fame worthy in comparison to other guys who fought during that same time.

    On a different note, the fact that Dana & Co. can’t get over themselves and old issues to induct a guy like Militech is absurd…

  • HexRei says:

    I think he would not be out of place as a Hall of Famer, but Dana will probably tap Lesnar for that honor this year 😉

  • Turtlesmmaspot says:

    I read all your thoughts and I know i’m going to be flamed for this but, I think Tito Ortiz love him or hate him should be in the hall of fame before Tanner.
    Just think about it.

  • THORAZINE says:

    BRANDON, Here’s the Guy’s MARK KERR BEAT IN THE UFC. Who the hell are they? and who’s Morti? LMAO! This doesn’t make Mark Kerr UFC HOF material. Remember the key here is UFC Hall of Fame not MMA Hall of Fame. Mark Kerr should be inducted into the MMA Hall of Fame, not UFC Hall of Fame.

    1. Dwayne Cason
    2. Greg Stott
    3. Dan Bobish
    4. Moti Horenstei

  • Tom Hodgson says:

    This is all posthumous recognition. Granted he deserves the recognition he’s receiving in general and I could not agree more, but it would NOT be given to him if he had not passed away this year. No one is putting words in your mouth. Logically, there are others lined up who have done more for the UFC and to deny that is just the blatancy of your nod because of his passing.

  • Robert says:

    The UFC hall of fame won’t be complete until Tito Ortiz is inducted. He held the light heavyweight championship longer than anyone in history and had a UFC record of 14 Wins 6 Losses and 1 Draw . Not to mention the Ortiz/Shamrock rivalry was the biggest in the history of MMA.

  • Seriously says:

    Forget what I posted earlier. It’s really a matter of worthiness. The UFC is not worthy of having Tanner as a UFC HoFer.

  • NealTaflinger says:

    All due respect to the dead, I don’t think Tanner’s credentials merit inclusion in the UFC HoF. All the victories cited came outside of the UFC, his record was…11-6(?) inside the promotion with losses to every top-flight fighter he faced. I’d love for Zuffa to create an award in his honor but if you compare resumes there are much more deserving guys.

  • Sam Caplan says:

    Neal, I would disagree. For one, 17 fights inside the Octagon is an accomplishment into itself. And sure, Tanner never was able to get the win over Rich Franklin… but Chuck Liddell has never been able to get the win over Quinton Jackson. Tanner also held the middleweight title and I would beg to differ that he has losses to every top-flight fighter he faced. You stated that all the victories cited came outside the UFC and that simply is incorrect. At the time, Baroni, Terrell, and Lawler were all top guys in the UFC’s middleweight division.

    Terrell had just smoked Matt Lindland prior to fighting Tanner and had wins outside the UFC against Yuki Sasaki and Joey Villasenor. We can laugh now, but at the time, Terrell was considered the future of the UFC’s middleweight division.

    Before he started to fade and be exposed as one dimensional, Lawler began his UFC career 3-0 and was thought to be a star in the making. It didn’t work out that way and he had to leave the UFC in order to become well-rounded, but at the time, the UFC’s divisions weren’t anywhere near as deep as they are now and Lawler was still a top guy even though he was coming off the Diaz KO.

    And today, Baroni, even by his own admission, is a journeyman. But there was a time in the UFC where, like Lawler, he was thought to be considered a rising star. Cardio issues and a failure to diversify his style led to Baroni’s downfall, but the two wins meant something at the time.

    Are there fighters more deserving? Absolutely, and I stated that in my article. But Pat Miletich and Frank Shamrock aren’t getting in anytime soon due to politics. Can you think of a candidate more deserving than Tanner that the UFC could realistically induct?

  • Brandon says:

    I still don’t understand why should Tanner be inducted while Nick Diaz is ignored? If winning against Robbie Lawler is what it takes to be inducted into the HOF then why not Nick?

    It’s similar to the NFL HOF debates that always go on… should a player be inducted because of longevity and playing many years at average or slightly above average place…

    Check out Sherdog’s fightfinder.. aside from Homer Moore, nearly every one of his UFC wins was against a .500 (give or take a win or two) figher. Hardly the credentials of an elite fighter.

  • Sam Caplan says:

    Brandon, Royce Gracie, Ken Shamrock, Dan Severn and Mark Coleman are all in the UFC Hall of Fame and all have wins against some opponents with less than impressive records.

  • Jonathan Snowden says:


    Surely you see the difference between Gracie, Shamrock, Severn, and Coleman and Evan Tanner? Those men built the sport.

    I liked Evan as much as anyone, but his sad demise doesn’t mean he should be propped up to a status his skills as a fighter didn’t merit. Ask yourself if anyone would be advocating Evan for a HOF if he had merely retired, rather than passed away. I think the answer is obvious.


  • Sam Caplan says:

    Jonathan, my point is that there wasn’t a lot of depth in MMA in the early years and that most top fighters that competed prior to 2001 are going to have a lot of “soft” wins on their record.

  • nate says:

    great read, thanks Sam.

  • THORAZINE says:

    ” Gracie, Shamrock, Severn, and Coleman helped built the sport.”.. but guys like Evan Tanner fighting in the then failing UFC from 1999-2005 taking on the best of what that era had to offer helped keep the UFC alive and makes him very worthy of HOF recognition… Caplan hits’ the nail on the head here.

  • Eamon J God says:

    I agree completely, being a great champion isn’t just about your record in mma.


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