UFC president Dana White boldly excluded retired superstar Conor McGregor from his personal MMA Mount Rushmore list despite the 31-year-old Irishman’s impressive historical accomplishments, unparalleled box-office success and crossover celebrity status.
White was asked to share his MMA Mount Rushmore on “The Schmozone Podcast” and the UFC’s top executive quickly came up with his first two names, Royce Gracie and Amanda Nunes.
The UFC boss then talked himself into adding two more names to his list, neither of which were McGregor.
In short, all four fighters on White’s Mount Rushmore of all-time MMA greats sold fewer pay-per-views combined than McGregor did by himself, so minimally it would seem like the Irish superstar maybe deserved a little more consideration than he ultimately received.
In the end, White names Gracie, Nunes, Jon Jones and Chuck Liddell as his MMA Mount Rushmore.
White Calls First UFC Champ Gracie a ‘No-Brainer’
“If you’re talking about a Mount Rushmore, where the heads are carved in stone forever, you have to go Royce Gracie. No-brainer, have to do that,” White said.
Gracie was the first UFC champion ever, arguably the company’s first star. The Brazilian jiu-jitsu specialist won UFC 1, UFC 2 and UFC 4, and he fought to a draw with Ken Shamrock at UFC 5. Gracie was the big winner of the first UFC shows despite his smallish frame at a time when there was just a very limited set of rules and no weight classes.
Additionally, Gracie’s wins changed the landscape of combat sports history because it proved the value of jiu-jitsu to a global audience that wasn’t yet convinced.
White Hails Nunes as ‘Greatest Female Fighter Ever’
Next on White’s list was “The Lioness”.
“Amanda Nunes,” White said. “Has to be Amanda Nunes, greatest female fighter ever.”
Earlier this month, Nunes defeated Felicia Spencer at UFC 250 to defend her featherweight championship. The historic win made Nunes the first and only UFC “champ champ” to defend both championships as reigning double champion.
On top of that, Nunes has defeated some seriously stalwart competition over her career, including Miesha Tate, Ronda Rousey, Holly Holm, Valentina Shevchenko and Cris Cyborg.
In fact, White had previously suggested that Nunes might be in the running for best MMA fighter ever regardless of gender.
White Adds ‘Incredibly Amazing’ Jones
Next on White’s list was UFC light heavyweight champion Jones, who is currently in the midst of a battle with the company over its business practices.
“I would have to go with a Jon Jones,” White said. “The guy’s never been beat, and what’s more amazing about him going undefeated, which is incredibly amazing because very few people do it in the sport, is the things that he’s done to himself outside of the Octagon, and he still hasn’t been beat.”
Jones has more UFC title wins than any other fighter in history at 14.
While some of his decisions outside the cage have caused some difficult issues in his life, he’s unmatched inside the UFC’s Octagon as one of the most accomplished athletes in the company’s history.
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White Picks “Iceman” for Last Slot
Finally, White revealed a surprise pick for his last slot, especially when you consider his list didn’t include arguably the two most important fighters to the UFC’s growth as a company, McGregor and retired women’s bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey, and also didn’t include retired legend Georges St-Pierre or aging middleweight great Anderson Silva.
“No. 4 on the Mount Rushmore, I guess you’d have to go with Chuck Liddell,” White said. “At the point in time, he was as big a star as ever. It’s almost a coin flip between Chuck Liddell and Forrest Griffin, and they’re both from the same show, the first season of ‘The Ultimate Fighter.’ Chuck became a massive star, was the highest-paid guy in the company at the time and all that stuff.”
So White’s MMA Mount Rushmore list includes Gracie, Nunes, Jones and Liddell, and White named those fighters over McGregor, Rousey, St-Pierre and Anderson Silva.
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