Without the UFC hall of fame pioneers, there would be no MMA as we know it today. These are the men and women who helped build the sport from the ground up, and their contributions cannot be overstated.
Fighters who entered the professional ranks before November 17, 2000, when the Unified Rules of MMA were first adopted, are at least 35 years old, and have been retired for at least a year are eligible for the “pioneer” wing of the hall of fame.
From the original pioneer of UFC 1, Royce Gracie up to the most recent inductee, Kevin Randleman, these are the legends who paved the way for MMA to become the global phenomenon it is today.
Here is the full list of UFC hall of fame pioneers.
Inducted Sep 23 2021
Kevin Randleman is one of the most accomplished mixed martial artists in history. A former UFC Heavyweight Champion, Randleman compiled an impressive record of 26-17 with notable wins over such legends as Randy Couture, Igor Vovchanchyn, and Ricardo Arona. He was known for his explosive takedowns and powerful ground-and-pound, as well as his willingness to take on all comers. In addition to his fighting career, Randleman also worked as a commentator and analyst for various MMA organizations. He will always be remembered as one of the UFC’s true pioneers.
Inducted July 5 2019
In July 2019, UFC fighter Rich Franklin was inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame. Franklin is a former UFC middleweight champion and has an overall record of 29-7-0. He is widely considered one of the best mixed martial artists of all time. Franklin has fought some of the biggest names in the sport, including Anderson Silva, Vitor Belfort, and Randy Couture. He has also appeared in a number of films and television shows, including The Ultimate Fighter and Entourage. Franklin is a true pioneer of the sport and his induction into the UFC Hall of Fame is well-deserved.
Inducted July 5 2018
In July 2019, Matt Serra was inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame. Serra is a former UFC Welterweight Champion and is widely regarded as one of the greatest welterweights in MMA history. He is also a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt under Renzo Gracie.
Inducted July 6 2017
Kazushi Sakuraba, nicknamed “The Gracie Hunter” and “The Japanese Dragon”, is a Japanese mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter. He fought in the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), Pride Fighting Championships (Pride), K-1, Rizin, and Pancrase. He holds notable victories over four members of the Gracie family: Royler, Renzo, Ryan and Royce. Sakuraba is widely considered one of the greatest MMA fighters of all time.
Sakuraba was inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame in 2019. He is the first Asian fighter to be inducted.
Inducted July 6 2017
Maurice Smith is a retired American mixed martial artist who competed in the heavyweight division. He was inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame in 2017.
Smith began his career in kickboxing, winning the WKA world championship in 1992. He then transitioned to mixed martial arts, winning the UFC tournament at UFC 8 in 1996. He is notable for being one of the first fighters to successfully utilize kickboxing in mixed martial arts.
After his retirement from fighting, Smith became a trainer and cornerman. He has worked with many notable fighters, including Dan Henderson, Bas Rutten, Quinton Jackson, and Muhammed Lawal.
Inducted July 10 2016
Don Frye is an American retired mixed martial artist, actor and former collegiate wrestler. He competed in the UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship) 10-man tournament, Ultimate Ultimate 1996 tournament, and PRIDE FC (Mixed Martial Arts). In 2016, he was inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame.
Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira
Inducted July 10 2016
Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, nicknamed “Minotauro”, is a Brazilian mixed martial artist and former UFC Heavyweight Champion. He was inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame in 2016.
Nogueira is considered one of the greatest mixed martial artists of all time. He has won numerous championships and accolades in his career, including being a two-time UFC Heavyweight Champion, a PRIDE Heavyweight Champion, an interim UFC Light Heavyweight Champion, and a Brazilian jiu-jitsu world champion.
Inducted July 11 2015
Bas Rutten is a former UFC fighter and now commentator who was inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame in 2015. He is known for his impressive career in kickboxing and MMA, as well as his outgoing personality. Rutten is a fan favorite and has been since he first stepped into the Octagon. His induction into the Hall of Fame is a well-deserved honor for his contributions to the sport.
Inducted July 6 2014
Miletich is a former UFC Welterweight Champion and was inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame in 2014. He is widely considered to be one of the pioneers of MMA and helped put the sport on the map. Miletich is a true legend in the sport and his induction into the Hall of Fame is well deserved.
Inducted July 7 2012
Tito Ortiz was inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame pioneers section in 2012. He is a retired American mixed martial artist. During his prime, he was one of the most popular fighters in the UFC and helped to popularize the sport of MMA. Ortiz is considered one of the greatest MMA fighters of all time. He has an impressive record of 20 wins and 12 losses. Ortiz has fought some of the biggest names in MMA, including Chuck Liddell, Randy Couture, and Wanderlei Silva.
Inducted May 28 2010
Matt Hughes is a former UFC fighter and welterweight champion. He was inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame in 2010. Hughes had an impressive fighting career, with a record of 45 wins and 9 losses. He is considered one of the greatest MMA fighters of all time.
Inducted July 11 2009
Chuck Lidell is one of the most accomplished mixed martial artists in history. He was a world champion in both the UFC and PRIDE Fighting Championships, and he is widely considered to be one of the greatest fighters of all time. Lidell was inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame in 2009.
Lidell was known for his incredible striking prowess and his ability to take a punch. He was a true warrior in the octagon, and his fights were always highly anticipated. Lidell will go down as one of the all-time greats in the sport of mixed martial arts.
Inducted Mar 1 2008
Coleman began his MMA career in 1996, winning the UFC 10 tournament. He would go on to win the UFC 11 tournament as well, becoming the first UFC Heavyweight Champion. He would successfully defend his title twice before losing it to Maurice Smith at UFC 14. Coleman retired from MMA in 2001 with a record of 16-10.
In 2008, Coleman was inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame, becoming one of the first inductees in the Pioneers category. He is widely considered one of the pioneers of the sport, and his induction into the Hall of Fame further cements his legacy.
Notable Accomplishments are that he is a two-time UFC tournament champion, UFC Heavyweight champion and Pride Grand Prix Openweight champion.
Inducted June 24 2006
Randy Couture is a UFC Hall of Fame pioneer who was inducted in 2006. He is a former three-time UFC Heavyweight Champion and two-time UFC Light Heavyweight Champion. In his mixed martial arts (MMA) career, he has also competed as a heavyweight for the Pride Fighting Championships, EliteXC, and Strikeforce. Couture is the first of only four fighters to hold two UFC championship titles in two different divisions. He retired from MMA competition on August 31, 2011.
Inducted Apr 16 2005
Dan Severn was inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame in 2005. He is two-time UFC tournament champion, UFC Superfight winner, accomplished amateur wrestler
Severn began his MMA career in 1994, when he competed in the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s (UFC) tournament to crown a heavyweight champion. He made it to the finals, where he lost to Royce Gracie. Severn would go on to have a successful MMA career, winning the UFC Superfight Championship and NWA World Heavyweight Championship. He retired in 2013 with a record of 101 wins and 19 losses.
Inducted Nov 21 2003
Ken Shamrock is an American mixed martial artist, Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Hall of Famer, and retired professional wrestler. He was the first UFC Superfight Champion, and is considered to be one of the pioneers of mixed martial arts. In his prime, Shamrock was known for his ferocious fighting style and submission grappling skills. He was inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame in 2003
Shamrock began his mixed martial arts career in Japan, fighting for the Pancrase promotion. He quickly rose to prominence as one of the top fighters in the world, winning the King of Pancrase title in 1994. He made his UFC debut in 1995, and fought in the promotion’s first-ever superfight against Dan Severn. Shamrock won the fight via submission to become the UFC Superfight Champion.
Inducted Nov 21 2003
Royce Gracie is a three-time UFC tournament champion and 7th degree Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt. He is considered to be one of the greatest MMA fighters of all time. He was the first UFC fighter to be inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame.
Gracie was born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He comes from a family of Brazilian jiu-jitsu practitioners. His father, Helio Gracie, is considered to be the founder of Brazilian jiu-jitsu. Gracie began training in jiu-jitsu at a young age and made his MMA debut in 1993 at UFC 1. He won the tournament by submitting all three of his opponents.
He retired from MMA in 1995. In 2006, Gracie made a comeback to MMA and fought at UFC 60. He lost the fight by TKO. He retired from MMA again after the loss.