As UFC 134 approaches, where Anderson Silva will make his ninth consecutive defense of his UFC Middleweight title, let's take a look at the top 10 likely candidates to be inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame.
If there is one thing the current inductees have in common, it is that they all wore UFC gold at least once, and in most cases more than once. In addition to being a Hall of Champions, they also each left their own unique mark on the sport.
Now in no particular order, here are the fighters who fit the bill more than most, and the ones we can all look forward to being inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame.
Don Frye (20-8-1-1, UFC: 9-1)
The UFC 8 Tournament Champion, Ultimate Ultimate 1996 Tournament Champion and UFC 10 Finalist, there is not a single list on the planet that would be complete without an appearance by "The Stache." Don Frye clearly has a resume that rivals that of any current UFC Hall of Fame inductee.
Although he chose to complete in the Japanese MMA circuit after his final appearance in the UFC and a stint as a professional wrestler, Don Frye still was able to retire from the sport relatively unscathed compared to some of his fellow legends. At this point, it is only a matter of time before he gets to join the Hall of Fame.
Pat Miletich (29-7-2, UFC: 8-2)
The UFC 16 Lightweight Tournament Champion and inaugural UFC Welterweight Champion with five successful title defenses, Pat Miletich is one of the first true Mixed Martial Artists in the UFC who was able to combine well-rounded striking and grappling with a solid wresting base and translate that rigorous training into consistent victories inside the Octagon.
Although "The Croatian Sensation" and UFC Kingpin Dana White had a falling out after a deal to coach The Ultimate Fighter fell through, enough time has passed where their personal relationship issues should be tossed aside and Pat Miletich should get his fair shake and be rightfully so inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame.
Vitor Belfort (20-9, UFC: 9-5)
The UFC 12 Heavyweight Tournament Champion, former UFC Light-Heavyweight Champion and the most recent UFC Middleweight title challenger, Vitor Belfort has been able to continue success in MMA and the UFC from the early tournament days until today like no other fighter has. His aggressive style has allowed him to finish 16 of his opponents, including two Knockout of the Night bonuses.
While "The Phenom" received criticism for challenging Anderson Silva for the UFC middleweight title without actually having competed at middleweight in the UFC (FYI he did compete at middleweight in Affliction beforehand) his most recent knockout victory over Japanese star Yoshihiro Akiyama proved he still has what it takes, and even if he never wears UFC gold again, he still competes at the highest levels of competitions and has an impressive enough resume to garner a spot in the UFC Hall of Fame.
Georges St-Pierre (22-2, UFC: 16-2)
The current and arguably most dominant UFC Welterweight Champion, Georges St-Pierre, will make his seventh consecutive title defense at UFC 137 when he faces off against (former) Strikeforce Welterweight Champion Nick Diaz in a de facto title-unification bout.
Win, lose, or draw, the two-time champion will go down in history as one of greatest, regardless if he is able to finish his opponents or not. His trilogy with Matt Hughes, battles with B.J. Penn and Matt Serra, and dominant reign, have guaranteed GSP's place in the UFC Hall of Fame.
Rich Franklin (28-6-0-1, UFC: 13-5)
This former UFC Middleweight Champion has been a fan favorite since he first entered the Octagon. Ability to connect with fans and deliver exciting fights while winning at the same time guarantee any card with "Ace" on it is sure to deliver.
While he's yet to find the same success at light-heavyweight as he did at middleweight, and some believe he would still be the best middleweight in the UFC next to only Anderson Silva. Rich Franklin is one of the peoples' champions, and a company man who would encounter little resistance if he were inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame tomorrow.
Forrest Griffin (18-6, UFC: 9-4)
The original Ultimate Fighter, and former light-heavyweight champion, Forrest Griffin is a man who seems to have spent his whole career as the underdog, and his upcoming fight with Shogun Rua is no exception. But never count out the underdog, as he has shown more than once before he can come out on top.
His first match with Stephan Bonnar at The Ultimate Fighter Finale is regarded by most in the MMA community as the most significant fight in UFC history, and that alone should be enough to carry him into the Hall of Fame. Fortunately for Griffin he also has a championship belt to his credit as well.
Tito Ortiz (16-9-1, UFC: 15-9-1)
The longest reining UFC Light-Heavyweight Champion ever, Tito Ortiz, alongside rivals Chuck Liddell and Randy Couture, is one of the fighters most responsible for ushering the UFC into the modern, post-SEG era. While we've seen his career go from high to lows over the years, and make a rival like no one thought possible this year alone, the one thing Ortiz guarantees everyone he competes is, love him or hate him, people will tune in to see him.
It has pretty much been guaranteed Tito Ortiz will one day enter the UFC Hall of Fame, so even though this place on this list might be a formality, it is still worth mentioning.
Lyoto Machida (17-2, UFC: 9-2)
Lyoto "The Dragon" Machida is the UFC's own Karate Kid and only person to ever successfully deliver a flying-crane kick knockout that sent Randy Couture into (final?) retirement. Despite his KO loss to Shogun Rua and split-decision controversy to Rampage Jackson, there still isn't a fighter in the division who can say they have a list of victims like Machida.
As the only fighter to KO Rashad Evans and Thiago Silva, the argument can be made for Machida to be inducted in the Hall of Fame on his current merits alone, but since he is far from done in the sport and still has a few good years a head of him, his case will only get stronger with time.
B.J. Penn (16-7-2, UFC: 12-6)
As one of only two fighters to have held a UFC Championship in two divisions, B.J. Penn is arguably more deserving to be in the UFC Hall of Fame than anyone else on this list. As the former lightweight and welterweight UFC champion, he holds the record for most successful lightweight title defenses, most lightweight wins and has fought 11 of his 18 UFC matches in championship fights.
As if all that wasn't enough, B.J. Penn is making another run at the welterweight title and his upcoming bout at UFC 137 against former WEC Champion Carlos Condit will determine if he deserves another crack at the title.
Anderson Silva (30-4, UFC: 13-0)
This is one man who needs no introduction. He is the current pound-for-pound king and most dominant UFC champion in history, in any division. Not only does he hold the record for most successful and consecutive title defenses (at eight), but he also holds the record for most consecutive wins in the UFC (that would be 13).
Add on the fact that he unified the Pride FC belt with his own when he took down Dan Henderson, has three Fight of the Night, three Knockout of the Night and two Submission of the Night bonuses and you cannot deny the living legend that is Anderson Silva.
As the last man to defeat "The Spider" steps into the cage to challenge for the title this Saturday at UFC 134, the world will watch in anticipation to see if Yushin Okami has what it takes to end what appears to be an unbeatable win streak, or if he'll just become another statistic to further justify Anderson Silva's entrance into the UFC Hall of Fame.
Frank Mir (15-5, UFC: 13-5):
A former UFC Heavyweight and Interim UFC Heavyweight Champion, Frank Mir has seen his fair share of ups and downs over the course of his career and has remained the division's perennial contender, never far from a title-eliminator or crack at the belt. While there is little doubt he will one day grace the Hall of Fame, it may still be a little while until we see that induction take place.
Rashad Evans (16-1-1, UFC: 11-1-1):
As a former UFC Light-Heavyweight Champion, the winner of Season 2 of The Ultimate Fighter and a nearly flawless record, it almost begs the question, why isn't Rashad Evans in the top 10 of this list? Well, the answer is simply that while he will undoubtedly be a UFC Hall of Fame inductee at some point, his failure to resonate with fans and an inability to finish fights when facing his stiffest competition to date (Tito Ortiz, Lyoto Machida, Rampage Jackson, Thiago Silva) puts him just off of the list.
So do you agree with these choices? I won't say how I feel since I want a little discussion going