MMA Hall of Fame

Introduction

Who are the pioneers of modern mixed martial arts? Which athletes are considered to be some of the best MMA fighters of all time? What follows are a few of the original, legendary figures showcased by the Ultimate Fighting Championship Hall of Fame who've pave the way, and made the sport of mixed martial arts what it is today. Though it's fair to say that many great fighters have emerged from the new sport, and this list is far from complete. For more on the sport and its star athletes, check out the UFC Hall of Fame.

Mark Coleman

Known as the "Godfather of ground-and-pound" in the MMA world, American mixed martial artist and professional wrestler Mark Coleman is credited with opening the door for wrestling in the sport of mixed martial arts. The former Olympic amateur wrestler was the first fighter in MMA history to successfully use the "ground-and-pound" strategy. UFC Hall of Fame inductee, Coleman became the first UFC Heavyweight Champion, and Pride 2000 Openweight Grand Prix winner. Coleman's most memorable victories included fights against Mauricio Rua, Igor Vovchanchyn, Don Frye, and Dan Severn.

Randy Couture

Randy Couture, or "Captain America" as he is called, is a permanent fixture in the world of mixed martial arts. The world champion fighter, as well as a Greco Roman wrestler, actor and commentator, is said to be only one of two fighters with a championship title in two different weight classes. He's a three-time former heavyweight champion, twice light-heavyweight champion of the UFC, and the only two-time heavyweight champion in UFC history. Having competed in a record 15 five-round title fights, Couture assumes his place in UFC Hall of Fame. He's most known for his clinch, and ground-and-pound fighting techniques, and using his combined wrestling, boxing, Muay Thai, and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu moves to ground the opponent. Couture is said to have brought mixed martial arts into the mainstream American pop culture and sports world.

Royce Gracie

Legendary UFC fighter Royce Gracie was most definitely a pioneer in the sport of MMA. Gracie is widely thought to be one of the most influential fighters in MMA history. Gracie is said to have dominated the UFC, and is known for beating opponents much larger than he was, among other things. Multiple time UFC winner, Gracie revolutionized the sport of MMA with his contributions towards grappling and cross-training. Gracie is on record for holding the most submission wins in UFC history, having earned 11 of them.

Matt Hughes

This two-time Welterweight Champion and leading man in the world of mixed martial arts is known for putting together two separate six-fight winning streaks in the UFC during which time he was widely regarded as the number 1 pound-for-pound mixed martial artist in the world. Hughes is on record for the most wins in the UFC, having defended his belt seven times. Most memorable fights include victories over Dave Menne, Joe Riggs, Royce Gracie, Renzo Gracie, BJ Penn, Matt Serra, Carlos Newton, Georges St-Pierre, and others. In 2007, Hughes left the Miletich Fighting Systems and started Team Hughes (Hughes Intensive Training), which he co-owns today with Robbie Lawler, Matt Pena, and Marc Fiore, in Granite City, Ill.

Chuck Liddell

Mixed martial arts front runner Chuck Liddell is widely considered "the most accomplished Mixed Martial Artist of all time" (Hall of Fame; MMA). Author of 2008 New York Best Seller, "Iceman: My Fighting Life", Liddell held the UFC light heavyweight championship. Out of his background in wrestling and kickboxing with focus on Kempo and Koei Kan karate, he developed a unique style featuring signature takedowns and striking techniques. His move now known as "sprawl and brawl" is copied by many fighters. Notable victories include his 1998 debut defeat over Noe Hernandez, and later over Tito Ortiz, Wanderlei Silva, and Randy Couture, which made him UFC's light-heavyweight champion. He defended the title five times until he lost to Quinton Jackson three years later. He came back strong, fighting "beyond the limits of most top fighters", despite his age (Hall of Fame; MMA).

Dan Severn

American MMA pioneer, two-time world champion professional wrestler, and UFC Superfight Champion Dan Severn fought in some of the first UFC championship tournaments and is known for victories over such iconic fighters as Tank Abbot and Ken Shamrock. Severn is known as the first world class wrestler to dominate the UFC. He won the NWA World Heavyweight Championship twice, and now travels around the world holding MMA, grappling, and amateur wrestling seminars. Severn is working to incorporate his law enforcement training practices into police departments, corrections facilities, and the military.

Ken Shamrock

The legendary mixed martial artist with a background in professional wrestling was the first MMA heavyweight champion in Japan, earning the title "King of Pancrase." Shamrock is ranked by Inside Martial Arts as being among the top ten greatest fighters of all time. Founder of the Lion's Den MMA training camp, he emerged a star in the UFC and Pride Fighting Championships, and on MMA's pay-per-view. After being featured in a piece called "The World's Most Dangerous Things" Shamrock was named "The World's Most Dangerous Man" by ABC News. An early rival of Royce Gracie after fighting to a draw in UFC's first Superfight, and his victory over Dan Severn sent Shamrock on to becoming the UFC Superfight Champion. That title was later changed to UFC Heavyweight Championships when the UFC introduced its weight categories. "Inside MMA" ranked Shamrock one of the top greatest mixed martial artists of all time. Shamrock's much-used signature ankle lock was named by the World Wrestling Federation as the "second best submission hold in its history" (Hall of Fame; MMA).

Current MMA Title Holders

According to MMA Weekly:

Current Top 10 MMA Females Pound-for-Pound

According to MMA Weekly:

References:

MMA Fighters; Mixed Martial Arts Fighter Profiles. Retrieved on Sept. 10, 2012, from http://www.kickassmma.com/mma-fighters/

Hall of Fame; MMA. Retrieved on Sept. 10, 2012, from http://www.halloffamemma.com/

MMA Top 10. Retrieved on Sept. 10, 2012, from http://www.mmaweekly.com/bantamweight-division-135-pound-limit-mma-top-10

Title Holders. Retrieved on Sept. 10, 2012, from http://www.ufc.com/fighter



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