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UFC Hall of Fame live coverage: Ronda Rousey leads 2018 class

As part of International Fight Week, the UFC will induct their latest class into their Hall of Fame, a class that includes a current WWE star and a man that helped launch the organization in 1993.

Follow along with our live coverage starting at 10 PM Eastern/7 PM Pacific.

This year's class includes:

  • Ronda Rousey (Modern Wing): The former UFC women's bantamweight champion heads up the class. Now firmly entrenched in WWE, Rousey has essentially retired from fighting after becoming one of its most recognizable faces, male or female.
  • Matt Serra (Pioneer Wing): Now seen on Dana White's Lookin' For a Fight and heard on UFC Unfiltered, the Serra-Longo team founder pulled off one of the biggest upsets ever when he knocked out Georges St-Pierre for the welterweight title in April 2007.
  • Art Davie (Contributors Wing): One of the driving forces behind the founding of the UFC, Davie co-owned the group from UFC 1 through UFC. He wrote a book about everything that went into the first event and still is looking for his big thing today.
  • Bruce Connal (Contributors Wing): While unknown to the majority of MMA fans, Connal was a key to how the sport was presented as the longtime producer of the televised product.
  • Shogun Rua vs. Dan Henderson I (Fights): In one of the best fights in UFC history, the first meeting between Shogun and Henderson took place at UFC 139 in November 2011.

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John Anik has the hosting duties tonight and he welcomes us after a nice video package highlighting all the nominees. The female who narrated it sounded familiar.....she may have done something similar for WWE. 

Shogun Rua vs. Dan Henderson I (Fights Wing)

First up is the Shogun-Henderson fight from November 19, 2011 which, amazingly enough, I've yet to see as I was actually watching the free Bellator show that night, which had a fight of the year candidate as well with Eddie Alvarez and Michael Chandler. From the highlights, I can see why this fight is being inducted. Rafael Dos Anjos was funny in his comments saying he knew watching it that he wasn't getting a fight of the night bonus that he thought he had wrapped up. Also commenting a lot about the fight was Jimmy Smith, who was actually commentating the Bellator fight that I watched that night. 

Shogun wasn't in attendance but he gave a taped acceptance speech. He will almost assuredly get inducted as a fighter when he retires but he's still very active and, in fact, on a winning streak going into a show in Hamburg that he'll be headlining in 2 weeks. 

Hendo was in attendance to accept his induction. It's a very different vibe from the WWE HOF ceremony as it's a small crowd and it's a much more casual atmosphere. Henderson says that he had no idea that UFC event inducted fights into the Hall of Fame but he was happy to make a trip to Vegas. He said hearing "Made in America" gives him goosebumps and that this fight was the first time he walked out to that music, which became his signature song.

He said that after this fight, he never wanted to have another fight like that again. And, of course, UFC rematched them 3 years later and Henderson claims that fight was even tougher than the first one. Henderson won the rematch on a 3rd round KO after winning a unanimous decision in the first fight. He dedicated this to his wife and the fans. 

Chis Weidman and Aljamain Sterling were interviewed backstage about the induction of their coach Matt Serra. They are both obviously proud but didn't really have much to say honestly. 

Bruce Connal (Contributors Wing)

Jon Anik gave a nice speech emphasizing how important Connal was to the UFC broadcast. It was very emotional and you can tell how personally affected by the premature death of the UFC producer. His wife Karen, along with his children, narrated the video which included photos of Cannal and his family from all over the world. His son Tyler continued the narration and he talked about travelling along with his father to NHL broadcasts prior to Connal starting with UFC. Connal produced every UFC PPV in the 2000s prior to his death as well as every UFC on FOX event during that time. They also aired clips of Connal talking in the headsets to the broadcasters. 

His daughter Carly continued the narration. She talked about how Bruce produced every single UFC female title fight in history. His youngest son Trevor talked about how his Dad was his best friend and that his Dad started when he was just 2 years old and he's now 23. He walked us through how his Dad would've produced the McGregor-Aldo fight from the walkout to the fight ending in 13 seconds. 

Mike Goldberg, now of Bellator, commented on Connal, which was a nice touch and not something you'd see on a WWE broadcast. Joe Rogan gave an emotional speech about Connal on the tape. You may recall Rogan breaking down when having to talk about Connal on air right after his death. He says that Connal will never be able to be replaced and broke up again. At the end of the video piece, it closed with Connal himself saying "You nailed it". The Connal family appeared in person to accept the induction on his behalf. 

Tyler Connal gave the acceptance speech. He said his two passions were television in family. His father Scotty was also a broadcaster for ESPN, when they launched. Connal was the producer of NHL on ESPN prior to being hired by UFC. He said he never lost his excitement for the UFC, from Tito Ortiz in the beginning to Conor McGregor, Ronda Rousey and Max Holloway today. He said his Dad was most proud of the opening shot when the main event fighter walks out for his fight. Mike Goldberg was show in the crowd as well as Tito Ortiz during the speech, which closed with a standing ovation. 

Matt Serra (Pioneer Wing)

Ray Longo was out first to give a speech about Serra. He told a funny story about Serra cracking him up prior to his UFC debut while he was......"going #2". He talked about how after going 4-4 to start his UFC career, he agreed to compete on season 4 of The Ultimate Fighter because it had a guaranteed title shot to the winner. Of course, he went on to win the season and the title in the biggest upset in UFC history, at least until Holly Holm beat Ronda Rousey in 2016. He said that Serra's title win sent the message to never stop believing in yourself and to always make the most of your opportunities and that Chris Weidman followed up on that by beating Anderson Silva for the middleweight title. This led into a video package about Serra's career. 

Tons of people appeared in the video package including GSP, Matt Hughes, Daniel Cormier, Din Thomas, Sean Shelby, Brian Stann and Jimmy Smith. They went on to talk about his current show "Looking for a Fight" that he stars in with Dana White and how he's continuing to contribute to this day with his coaching. 

Serra came out to the Rocky music. He sounds a lot like Bully Ray. It took less than a minute for Serra to curse, which is probably good for him. Serra mocked Din Thomas, who was in the crowd. This was basically just Serra doing stand-up comedy and it was pretty entertaining. He got serious when talking about Renzo Gracie, his jiu-jitsu teacher. He said that Renzo gave him the confidence to win his first tournament, basically saying that if he finished second place, he was just the first loser. 

He put over Longo, saying he never would've won his season of TUF, let alone the title, if it weren't for his coaching. He made him believe that he could knock out GSP and he's now tried to carry that on to his students. He also talked about his wife Anne. He was living in a studio apartment when he met her, so he knew she wasn't a gold digger. She's the Adrian to his Rocky but unlike the movies, she didn't become a bitch (his words). In closing, he said to listen to Mr Serra because you never know where your fists will take you. Very entertaining speech. 

Dana White interviewed backstage and they announce that Dana White wil be inducting Ronda Rousey later tonight. White said the fighters get to pick who inducts them and he's honored to have been chosen by Rousey. He said that all of the money that the women in MMA and boxing are making today is due to what Rousey did. He talked about the Shogun-Rua fight, saying it was one of the best fights ever and then talked about Serra and an incident last night at the Red Rock casino where Serra took down a drunk patron. The video of that incident has gone viral in the last 24 hours. 

Art Davie (Contributors Wing)

Sean Wheelock was out to induct Davie. Wheelock was the co-author of the book "Is this Legal: The Inside Story of the First UFC from The Man Who Created It". He talked about the mindset Davie had when organizing the first-ever UFC, wanting to match up individuals from different fighting disciplines to see who would emerge as the premier fighter. He said that Davie would never claim to have created MMA but when you look at what he did, he actually did inadvertently create the sport. 

The video package include images of mock-up drawings of the first Octagon. Various MMA media members talked about how Davie recognized the showmanship that was needed to make this work and how he personally recruited several future hall of famers into the sport. Don Frye was also featured heavily on the package. John McCarthy was shown in the crowd. Heavy Bellator presence here tonight. 

Davie said that he was told to say that being inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame is the biggest accomplishment in our sport. He said it's special that he's being inducted during the year of the 25th anniversary of the first UFC. He said he came up with the idea in 1989 to mix up fighters from different styles to see which fighting style was the best. He admitted to being a complete jerk in the first 3 years. He said that even with the idea, he needed Rorion Gracie in order to get this thing off the ground. Davie said he convinced Gracie that if one of his fighters entered the tournament, he would prove that Gracie jiu-jitsu was the premier fighting style in the world. 

He revealed that he didn't sign the contract with SEG until 2 hours before the first event. He also talked about how he pitched the idea of the first UFC to ESPN back in 1993 and joked how they could've picked it up for a lot less than $300 million a year if they'd got in then. He listed off the competitors in the first tournament, putting over Royce Gracie specifically. He said that even though they were mocked by saying that these weren't the best fighters in the world, they were the only guys with the balls to show up and prove it. He said that he, Rorion Gracie and Bob Meyrowitz were the original creators of UFC but put over some of the others who helped along the way. He talked about Campbell McLaren and how he hired commentators like Jeff Blatnik, Jim Brown and Joe Rogan. 

He said that Blatnik as well as Big John McCarthy knew way back then which direction the UFC needed to go and spearheaded the changes needed to take the sport to the next level. Davie actually gave him the nickname "Big John" because McCarthy used to actually pick him up off the ground. He said that the first UFC was incredible because it exposed boxers as being one dimensional and introduced ground fighting to American audiences. He said that after the first UFC, people were calling him to enter the next tournament and he could stop cold-calling gyms looking for fighters. He said that all of his ideas weren't great because at one point he came up with the idea to put John Wayne Bobbitt into a UFC but John McCarthy talked him out of it. He then compared this to Dana White signing CM Punk. 

He said that after awhile he didn't like working for UFC anymore because he wasn't the promoter anymore and he didn't like answering to people who had just joined the company. He talked about being asked to leave the company because he was going to start a rival company. He said that he had no regrets when UFC was sold for 4.2 billion dollars because he did what he could with the company and then left and gave credit to Dana and the Fertittas for taking UFC to where it got to. He said he's recently come to realize that he didn't create the first UFC, UFC created him and every fighter who ever became a star from Royce Grace to Ronda Rousey and everyone in between. 

He thanked the 1,793 fighters who have stepped foot into an Octagon over the years. He also thanked all of the employees who've worked for the company over the years. And he thanked the fans who supported the UFC over the years, despite politicians and media trying to kill it. He said that his "baby" grew up and conquered the f***ing world. Speech was a little long but when you created the UFC, I guess you're entitled to that. 

Ronda Rousey (Modern Wing)

A video package aired prior to the induction speech putting over how important Rousey was to the sport with virtually every big star, both man and woman, in the last several years commenting including Jon Jones, Rashad Evans, Miesha Tate, Chuck Liddell and many others. Some of the current women stars talked about how she inspired them to get into the sport. Jon Anik talked about several numbers, emphasizing 90, which is the number of female fighters currently under contract to UFC and they all owe Ronda Rousey for it. 

Dana White gave the induction speech. He said that in 18 years, he's learned a lot of things but most importantly "never say never". He admitted that Rousey changed his mind about allowing women to fight in the UFC and in doing so, she changed the world. He said he was shocked at the backlash when they signed Rousey and then announced that she would headline the show over Dan Henderson and Lyoto Machida. He said she proved that not only could women fight but that they could sell tickets and PPVs. He said that Rousey launched a women's revolution, empowering women to fight for what they want and never take no for an answer. He said that out of all the big stars they've had over the years, only Ronda Rousey transcended the sport and became a cultural icon. He surprisingly mentioned that she's now making millions doing professional wrestling. 

Another video package again emphasized the importance of everything that Rousey did, dating back to her days in judo and her early MMA fights. They must not have been able to get the rights for "Bad Reputation" as they had a sound-alike song playing during the video package. Jon Anik said her run of 6 consecutive title defences, all by finish, will not be duplicated any time soon. Paige VanZant said that when she saw Ronda in the UFC, she realized she could do this as a career. Rose Namajunas and Joanna Jedrzejczyk said similar things. Joe Rogan called her the biggest pioneer in the history of MMA. 

Rousey was accomponied by her husband Travis Browne and did come out to the Bad Reputation song. She seemed overwhelmed by everything at the start of her speech. She thanked "you", meaning the UFC fans. She said that for 10 years, she was at the pinnacle of athletic achievment and no one cared and it was only when she came into MMA and people cared, that it made a difference. She talked about what an honor it is to be the first woman inducted into the Hall of Fame and hopes to be the first of many. She said that "we changed what it means to fight like a girl". 

She said that the fans have inspired her and that everything that fans claim she's done for them, they've done for her tenfold. She gave a very personal speech to her fans encouraging them to not believe anything negative people say about them. She said it was an honor to be able to go through this journey with everyone and this was only possible because they were all watching. 

The speech was short but incredibly humble, moving and personal and not at all what you would normally expect from Rousey. This was a great 2 hour show and well worth watching if you've just been reading along. 

The show closed with all of the inductees coming out onto the stage for a curtain call.