“So, you guys have heard me say it a million times…as far as this company goes for sure, but as far as this sport goes, this was the most important fight in the history of this company. At the time when this fight happened, okay, you know where we were back then; you know where we were and what was happening, ah, with the sport. We were 44 million dollars in the whole into this business.”
That was the preamble which Dana White used as a lead up to his fiery and passionate introduction of Forest Griffin and Stephan Bonnar at the UFC Hall-of-Fame introductions in Las Vegas, this past week. His preface was couched as an answer to questions (“b****ing”) by the media, regarding how it is that Bonnar has come to be inducted into the UFC HOF; as many feel he hasn’t earned it.
The UFC president went on to lay out the case as to why Bonnar should be in the HOF and it all had to do with that 1 fight and in listening to his (passionate) case, he made a good one. With emotion in his voice White told the audience that even with the work they had put in, the success that the show (TUF) had been and even the “crazy” ratings it had garnered, there was still no deal with “SPIKE”. In essence, that the TUF I finale was their last shot at getting a TV deal and that it was Griffin & Bonnar that made the deal happen. As White said:
“during 6 minutes of that fight 12 million people tuned in…you know what insane numbers those are?… (people in the arena) were stomping their feet in the place, it sounded like a f***ing train was going through that place...there has never been a more important fight, except for UFC 1, in the history of mixed-martial-arts and it is our honor to induct Forest Griffin and Stephan Bonnar into the UFC Hall-of-Fame.”
I think regardless of White’s sentiments and reasons, many will still have a tough time (no pun intended) in accepting Bonnar’s HOF induction.
For me, I think it could be argued either way. I understand the historical significance of Griffin / Bonnar I, but beyond that, he didn’t earn it and there seems to be no pretense (on anyone’s behalf) as to arguing otherwise.
Beyond that, my view of the UFC’s HOF ceremonies is that they lack any sense of celebration, drama, pageantry or officialdom. As example, Dana attended the “ceremony” in his best black t-shirt, jeans and running shoes and once his effusive remarks were gone, so was the energy of the whole affair.
Agree or disagree with the entrants and what any or all may make of an individual fighter’s accomplishments, but the event could use an upgrade in the presentation department and the HOF itself, could use a legitimate home.
Closing out, Griffin said little, Bonnar said too much and in doing so, didn’t help his case for HOF status. Also, he seemed to bore the h**l out of Dana and Forrest.