The UFC recently announced the induction of former champions Khabib Nurmagomedov and Daniel Cormier into the Hall of Fame as part of the Class of 2022. Both fighters will take their places on the modern wing alongside legends like Ronda Rousey and Georges St Pierre.
The modern wing was created in 2015 when the organization decided to divide the Hall of Fame into different categories. Other categories include Pioneer Wing, Fight Wing, and Contributor’s Wing. This was done to ensure fairness in the induction of fighters and others involved in promoting promotion to the top.
While “The Eagle” and “DC” are very deserving, the announcement of their inductions has sparked discussions about other candidates who deserve the same honor.
With that in mind, here are five fighters who deserve to follow the two legends into the Hall of Fame’s Class of 2022:
#5. Junior dos Santos – former UFC heavyweight champion
Junior dos Santos began his UFC career in 2008 with a knockout of top contender Fabricio Werdum. The stellar knockout also earned him his first knockout of the year award. From there, he went undefeated for nine straight fights – the longest winning streak in UFC heavyweight division history.
His dream run inside the octagon saw him contend for the heavyweight title against Cain Velasquez at UFC on Fox 1. Thanks to Velasquez’s knockout by dos Santos, the fight lasted quite a bit. more than a minute. He became the first Brazilian to win the heavyweight title in the promotion.
Another of his memorable performances was against Stipe Miocic in 2014. The five-round back and forth recorded 212 significant strikes on target, with dos Santos landing 123. The fight eventually got some distance and ‘Cigano’ was announced the winner by unanimous decision. .
He holds the record for the most knockdowns landed by a heavyweight fighter in the promotion. Additionally, dos Santos has the second most wins by knockout in the division, with ten wins by knockout.
The 38-year-old left the Zuffa-owned promotion in 2021 with a 21-9 record, ending a twelve-year career in the octagon. He is currently signed to Eagle FC and will make his promotional debut against Yorgan De Castro.
#4. Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson – former UFC light heavyweight champion
Quinton Jackson was already a household name before his UFC debut in 2007. This was mainly due to his time at Pride FC, where he amassed a 12-5 record. Although he is well past his prime, he remains one of the best light heavyweights in MMA history.
“Rampage” earned his first UFC title against former Pride competitor Chuck Liddell in the promotion’s second fight. About ninety seconds into the first round, a powerful right hook from Jackson sent Liddell to the canvas.
There wasn’t much ‘The Iceman’ could do from here as ‘Rampage’ rained down heavy blows from the top position. Moments later, the referee intervened and Jackson became the new 205lbs division champion.
His next fight saw him go the distance against Pride middleweight champion Dan Henderson and win by unanimous decision. With the victory, ‘Rampage’ became the first fighter to hold the UFC and Pride FC belts.
With 37 wins in his MMA career, Jackson is undoubtedly one of the greatest light heavyweights of all time.
#3. Demetrious Johnson – former UFC flyweight champion
In 2012, Demetrious Johnson made history by becoming the first UFC flyweight champion by defeating Joseph Benavidez. During the six years he reigned, Johnson faced stiff competition from Benavidez, Henry Cejudo and Ray Borg, among others.
One of the best fights of his career was arguably against Borg at UFC 216. Not only did he outmaneuver the American 64-13 on major strikes on target, but he also landed an armbar that one wonders about. will remember for years.
Three minutes into the fifth round, the two fighters found themselves in a clinch when “Mighty Mouse” picked up Borg. Almost in the blink of an eye he lifted ‘The Tazmexican Devil’ using a suplex, grabbed his left arm in the air and finished him off with the armbar.
It was his 12th successful title defense, making him surpass Anderson Silva’s record of most consecutive title defenses to that point.
Following his loss to Henry Cejudo in 2018, he was traded to the ONE Championship in exchange for Ben Askren, where he still competes in the flyweight division and won their flyweight Grand Prix.
#2. Frank Shamrock – former UFC light heavyweight champion
Frank Shamrock is arguing for Hall of Fame induction as a pioneer of modern MMA. He was one of the first fighters to introduce the art of mixing different fighting styles to the cage.
In his first fight for Dana White’s promotion, he submitted Kevin Jackson 16 seconds into the first round to become the promotion’s first light heavyweight champion. He defended his title four times before leaving the organization with an impeccable 5-0 record.
Shamrock faced future Hall of Famer Tito Ortiz in his final fight in the octagon. The 1999 Fight of the Year was a clear test of Shamrock’s durability as a fighter. Despite multiple takedowns from Ortiz, Shamrock still had enough energy to knock him out in round four.
After leaving the UFC, Shamrock fought in WEC and Strikeforce before hanging up the gloves in 2011.
#1. Anderson Silva – former UFC middleweight champion
Arguably, no fighter has more claim to the class of 2022 than Anderson Silva. The former middleweight champion was the perfect example of poise and explosiveness inside the octagon.
At his peak, “The Spider” was perhaps the promotion’s most consistent fighter and looked almost superhuman. With 16 straight wins, he holds the record for the longest winning streak in the promotion. Additionally, he also has the fourth most finishes in promotion history. Only three of his seventeen octagon wins have come by judges’ decision.
Of Silva’s many notable performances in the octagon, those against Chael Sonnen and Vitor Belfort arguably stand out – for different reasons. While the former tested Silva’s tenacity, the latter demonstrated his explosiveness.
At UFC 117, Silva came back from the brink of defeat to submit Sonnen in the final round. With Sonnen in the lead through four rounds, Silva pulled off a beautiful triangle armbar to successfully defend his title.
Against Vitor Belfort at UFC 126, it was business as usual for Silva as he knocked Belfort out with a superb kick to the face. While the world had almost grown accustomed to seeing “The Spider” do this to his opponents, no one expected him to lay down a belfort prime like he did.
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