UFC President Dana White announced the latest inductees via Twitter on Monday evening.
The pair are set to be inducted at 6:30pm PT on Friday on the eve of UFC 100 at the UFC Fan Expo at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas.
Liddell, MMA’s most-popular and well-known fighter, inconspicuously made his MMA debut at UFC 17 in May 1998, defeating Noe Hernandez via unanimous decision to kick off a streak that saw him win 12 of his first 13 fights over the likes of Jeff Monson, Kevin Randleman, Guy Mezger, Murilo Bustamante, Vitor Belfort and Renato Sobral. After picking up a victory over Alistair Overeem between losses to Randy Couture and Quinton Jackson, Liddell won back-to-back fights over Tito Ortiz and Vernon White before winning the 205-pound title with a first-round knockout of Couture in April 2005.
“The Iceman” would go on to defend the title four-straight times against Jeremy Horn, Couture, Sobral, and Ortiz before relinquishing it to Quinton Jackson in May 2007 after suffering a first-round knockout. After losing the belt, Liddell would win just once more inside the Octagon, defeating Wanderlei Silva in late-2007 in one of the most thrilling fights in recent history, while suffering losses Keith Jardine, Rashad Evans, and Mauricio “Shogun” Rua.
Though Liddell has not yet officially retired, the UFC President White has made no secret of his wish for the UFC star to hang up his gloves after compiling a 21-7 career mark and having an extended reign as the top light heavyweight in the world. Liddell recently stated that he wouldn’t return until after April 2010 at the earliest should he opt to continue his fighting career.
Charles “Mask” Lewis Jr., who died on March 11, 2009 as a result of a tragic car crash, becomes the first posthumous inductee into the UFC Hall of Fame. He co-founded what would become the sport’s biggest apparel company, TapouT, in 1997 with Dan Caldwell (“Punkass”) by selling MMA apparel out of the trunk of a car. TapouT quickly grew alongside the UFC into a multi-million dollar company that has become synonymous with the sport, with its growth exploding in recent years, jumping from $22.5 million in 2007 to a predicted $225 million in 2009. Mask and Punkass, along with a third partner “Skyscrape,” were featured on a TapouT reality show on Versus, which followed the trio and they scouted up-and-coming fighters.
Liddell and Lewis will join Royce Gracie, Ken Shamrock, Dan Severn, Randy Couture, and Mark Coleman as members of the UFC Hall of Fame.
[Pictured: Chuck Liddell]