MMA fans love to get worked up over the little things.

Message boards are constantly filled with debates over unanswerable questions, like pound-for-pound debates and possible outcomes for fights between fighters from different eras, but one of the most ridiculous things the MMA community allows itself to get worked up over is the UFC Hall of Fame.

The newest fighter to get his name thrown around in the Hall of Fame debate is recently retired light heavyweight Stephan Bonnar, whose accomplishments in the sport pale in comparison to his achievements under the UFC banner.

Bonnar was never an elite fighter during his 11-year career. He was never all that close to title contention in the UFC, his biggest career wins came against Keith Jardine and a natural welterweight in Brian Ebersole, and he always seemed to fade against top-shelf competition.

To top it all off, Bonnar tested positive for banned substances after two of the biggest fights of his career, both of which he lost.

On the surface, Bonner’s resume shows nothing that would make anyone consider him even a great fighter, let alone a Hall of Fame worthy combatant.

However, fans need to start realizing that the UFC Hall of Fame is exactly that: A place to honor some of the most important fighters in UFC history, not MMA history as a whole.

Guys like Bonnar, or even Kenny Florian, may not have the right amount of high-profile wins to be considered anything other than decent fighters by most MMA fans, but to the UFC and its faithful fan base, these guys are some of the most important and influential fighters in history.

Without Bonnar’s legendary scrap with Forrest Griffin at the very first <i>Ultimate Fighter</i> Finale back in 2005, the UFC could still be the biggest promotion in a virtually unknown sport trying to capture the interest of anyone with eyes. But for whatever reason, fans decided to tune in to watch Bonnar and Griffin beat the hell out of each other and the sport is better off because of it.

Florian is another guy that has been brought up in Hall of Fame conversations since his retirement earlier this year, and although he has a much better resume than Bonnar, fans still seem split on whether he should be included in the UFC Hall of Fame.

On paper, Florian is a guy that could go either way.

To his credit, he was a very good fighter for the better part of a decade, earning three title bouts, fighting in four different weight classes, and finishing the fight over 80 percent of the time in his UFC wins. Sadly, he never quite reached the pinnacle of the sport with a championship win, and the lack of gold around his waist left a major hole in his legacy.

Despite Florian’s struggles in title fights, his chances at one day becoming enshrined in the UFC Hall of Fame are pretty good, especially when you consider his contributions to the promotion outside of the cage. In addition to his new role as a UFC commentator, Florian has been one of the fighters that Zuffa has turned to while trying to change the negative stereotypes that surround MMA, and Ken-Flo’s intelligence and overall appearance have done a lot to change misconceptions surrounding the UFC and MMA.

When the time comes to start inducting a few more fighters into the UFC Hall of Fame, I have little doubt that Bonnar and Florian will find themselves amongst the first in line, and they deserve that honor for their accomplishments in the UFC.

It may drive some fans crazy, but until someone comes along and decides to create an actual MMA Hall of Fame that garners universal recognition, guys like Bonnar are going to get honored by the UFC while legends such as Fedor Emelianenko and Frank Shamrock get left with nothing but their fans crying out about the unfairness of the situation.

It’s unfortunate that we don’t have anything to honor the fantastic fighters that have either never crossed the bridge into the Octagon, or even those like Shamrock that burned the bridge down after he left, but we can’t fault the UFC for honoring the fighters that were important to the promotion.

Photo: Kenny Florian (Esther Lin/MMA Fighting)

About The Author

Vince Carey
Staff Writer

Vince Carey has been writing about the sport of mixed martial arts since 2010. Although he is just 21 years old, the Omaha-based writer is looking to provide readers with interesting content on all things related to MMA.