The UFC announced Tuesday that it will dramatically overhaul its Hall of Fame, creating four new categories for inductees and definining criteria for selection. Previously, the members were chosen almost exclusively by UFC president Dana White.
The new categories for inductees are:
• Modern era wing: All fighters who made their pro debut after Nov. 17, 2000, and UFC 28, when the unified rules were first implemented, are eligible for selection in this class.
• Pioneer era wing: This category will honor fighters who debuted prior to UFC 28 or Nov. 17, 2000.
• Contributors wing: This category will honor anyone or any group that has made a significant contribution to the sport beyond fighting. It will consider, for example, referees, judges, trainers, commissioners, announcers and promoters. So, people such as Greg Jackson, the elite trainer at Jackson's MMA; announcer Joe Rogan and/or referee "Big" John McCarthy would be eligible for selection in this category.
• Fight wing: The UFC wants to honor the greatest fights in the sport's era and have them recorded for posterity. So fights like the Mauricio "Shogun" Rua-Dan Henderson I bout at UFC 139 in 2011 would be eligible here.
"The UFC Hall of Fame has an important job," UFC president Dana White said in a statement. "It not only celebrates greatness, but it helps pass stories of the greatest athletes and fights in UFC history on to the next generation of fight fans. We're looking forward to announcing the Class of 2015 and what is going to be a great induction event on July 11."
The 12 people already in the Hall of Fame will be divided into one of these categories.
Forrest Griffin is the only modern era inductee, having been inducted in 2013. Pioneer inductees are Royce Gracie, Ken Shamrock, Dan Severn, Randy Couture, Mark Coleman, Chuck Liddell, Matt Hughes, Tito Ortiz and Pat Miletich. The only fight in so far is Griffin-Stephan Bonnar I from 2005. Promoter/businessman Charles "Mask" Lewis is in the contributor's wing.
Fighters in the modern category must be 35 or older or have been retired for one calendar year. Active fighters are eligible if over 35 but not preferred.
In the pioneer category, fighters must be 35 or older and retired for one calendar year. Their accomplishments outside of the UFC will be taken into consideration, but more weight will be given to UFC accomplishments because it is a UFC Hall of Fame and not a general MMA Hall of Fame.
For a fight to be inducted, it must have taken place five years before the year of induction. So Henderson-Rua I wouldn't be eligible until 2016.
White will lead a committee of UFC employees in the selection process.