Recently Dana White came out and gave his Mount Rushmore of MMA list. His list was Royce Gracie, Amanda Nunez, Jon Jones, and Chuck Liddell.
For those of you who don’t know, Mount Rushmore is a national monument in which 4 faces are carved in stone (not to be edited, which we will revisit later) who have shaped the face of the United States of America.
This would mean that the 4 faces who are on this list will have to be carved into MMA history and never to be edited again. With that being said, do we agree with Dana’s list?
I personally do not agree with his list, although he makes great points on why everyone is there. Royce Gracie was the first fighter who implemented high level grappling and submissions into the sport at a time where it was basically a fight to the death.
With the introduction of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu to the fights, he was able to beat opponents who vastly outweighed him (there were no weight classes), and he even beat multiple fighters in a night. For this contribution, I have to keep Royce on my Mount Rushmore.
The second name he mentioned, is undoubtedly the greatest female fighter ever, Amanda Nunez. He has her on this mountain because she is the best ever, but not for what she has contributed to the sport.
For this spot, I’m personally going to remove Amanda, and add in another female. Ronda Rousey is the reason that the UFC even has a women’s division and classes throughout the sport.
She was so dominant in her early career and with the UFC being a business first, they sought the NEED to create an entire class of divisions for the women. This is something that expanded the sport far beyond anything that Amanda has done.
Amanda may have dismantled Ronda and ended her fighting career, but still I will replace her with Ronda.
The third name is Jon Jones. Now I do think he is the best fighter to ever live, but I do not think he deserves a spot on this list. With this list, it is hard for me to not pick the four best fighters ever, but that just simply isn’t what Mount Rushmore is. I find it hard to believe that Jon Jones helped shape the sport more so than four other athletes who have fought in the UFC.
Dana’s argument for him was that with everything he has going on outside of the ring, he still is unbeaten inside of the Octagon. To that, I rebuttal his point with my 3rd guy on the list, Tito Ortiz.
Nicknamed ‘The Huntington Beach Bad Boy’ for a reason. He had many issues outside of the sport, yet he still came out on top while having notable outside the ring distractions. Also, I think he was the most notable fighter to come from a street fighting background and make it to the pros.
A lot of the fighters at the time already had a background in the martial arts. Aside from Juco college wrestling, Tito was a brawler who was known to be involved in the dangerous street life which included gangs and drug abuse.
He was also one of the first big trash talkers in the UFC, which helped build his iconic rivalries and helped get the sport to new heights. Along with having the best post fight celebration, Tito makes my 3rd spot on the list.
The last spot he gave was to Chuck Liddell, which is understandable. I could argue Chuck deserves a spot if Tito has one for growing the MMA world because ‘The Iceman’ is an icon and pioneer in the sport, which is safe to say.
My final spot however is going to someone else who is a pioneer and icon in his own right, Conor McGregor. ‘The Notorious One’ is on my Mount Rushmore of MMA because his personality carried over into the fights like no other.
He would trash talk a guy for weeks then knock him out in minutes without breaking a sweat. He is someone who has grown the business portion of MMA far beyond what we knew it to be.
There is now a deal with ESPN that the UFC has secured. UFC fighters have been given a bigger platform due to this, and I feel as if he was the guy to breakthrough so that the world could finally have a face to the sport. Also, his crossover into boxing to fight the best boxer ever in Floyd Mayweather, was something that nobody could predict to happen.
This shined a light on the sport that nobody else could, and it also showed the world he could hang with the best of the best. Conor also was the first ever to hold two belts in different weight classes, and he did that in his previous promotion and then the UFC (for those who think it was a fluke).
Nowadays, it seems as if all champions are trying to win another belt in another division, and it expands the fights that can be made because there is an entire class of fighters in each division for the champion to face. From a marketing and popularity standpoint, I have Conor as my fourth face on the Mount Rushmore of MMA.
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