By Dave Doyle
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Apr 25, 2012 - WEST HOLLYWOOD, Calif. -- The UFC hasnít set a time or date for its next set of inductions into the companyís Hall of Fame. But when they get around to it, said company president Dana White, two former champions will likely get a call.
During a lunch gathering at The Palm restaurant, White said two fighters coming close to the end of the line, former UFC light heavyweight champion Tito Ortiz and multi-weight class champ
"Despite my personal problems with Tito, he belongs in," said White. "He was the champion when we first bought this thing. The fact that Tito is still here, Tito and I have had our moments, but it doesnít change what he did for the company."
Ortiz was the first major drawing card of the Zuffa era. "The Huntington Beach Bad Boy" held the light heavyweight title from 2000-03, still the third-longest reign in company history, and his rivalries with Ken Shamrock and Chuck Liddell helped etch the new-era UFC into mainstream consciousness.
Ortiz and White have famously clashed over the years. But White says he canít deny the former champion his place in history.
"The beef between me and Tito, Chuck and Tito, the fact is, that played a huge role in helping making this thing as big as it is."
Penn, a Hilo, Hawaii native billed as "The Prodigy," is one of the most naturally gifted fighters ever to set foot in the Octagon. His willingness to fight anyone -- he once gave up 50 pounds in a fight against future UFC light heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida and took him to a decision -- made him one of the companyís most popular fighters.
Penn is one of just two fighters to win titles in multiple weight classes. In 2004, the natural lightweight went up to welterweight and submitted Matt Hughes to claim the crown, ending Hughesí 13-fight win streak. In 2008, he defeated Joe Stevenson for the vacant UFC lightweight title and held the belt for two years.
"Definitely," White said when asked if Penn belongs in the Hall. "The thing about
Ortiz will fight
"Heíll be back. Itís tough, when there are 16,000 people in the arena chanting your name, itís tough to walk away from that.
Fighters currently in the Hall are Royce Gracie, Ken Shamrock, Dan Severn, Randy Couture, Mark Coleman, Chuck Liddell and Matt Hughes. Late TapouT co-founder Charles "Mask" Lewis is also inducted.