Is the UFC acknowledging that their HOF doesn't matter, by inducting Stephan Bonnar?
Their epic finale in the first season of The Ultimate Fighter launched the UFC to new heights in terms of popularity, and is a huge reason they currently have a network television deal with FOX.
If not for that fight, the UFC might not even exist today as we know it, and mixed martial arts might not be the fastest growing spectator sport in the USA.
Presumably for that reason, Stephan Bonnar and Forrest Griffin have been selected as the next inductees in the UFC Hall of Fame, joining legends like Randy Couture, Royce Gracie, and Matt Hughes.
Griffin is an understandable choice. He was a fan favorite for years, won the inaugural season of TUF, and was a champion of the ultra-competitive 205-pound division. He doesn't quite have the same pedigree as the other Hall of Famers, but his performance combined with fan adoration means it at least makes sense to induct him.
Bonnar, on the other hand, is much harder to justify. His UFC record was a paltry 8-7. He failed post-fight drug tests not once, but twice. If not for his willingness to take any fight on short notice and the soft spot in his heart due to the finale of TUF 1, he would have been given his walking papers years ago.
The UFC should, without a doubt, have a place in their Hall of Fame to honor the epic fight that transformed their organization. However, years from now, it will be difficult to take the HOF seriously with fighters like Stephan Bonnar among the ranks.
Dave Meltzer of SB Nation notes that the lack of reaction about this says just that: Many people DON'T take the UFC Hall of Fame seriously. As a relatively new establishment, that's understandable. But in the long run, this is an organization that hopes to be on par with the major sports leagues in the United States.
This is a bad move, on their part. We'll see how history looks on it later, but I doubt it will look kindly on the idea of Stephan Bonnar, UFC Hall of Famer.