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18 Jun, 2020 12:59

No Khabib or Conor? UFC president Dana White makes some surprising picks for his 'MMA Mount Rushmore'

No Khabib or Conor? UFC president Dana White makes some surprising picks for his 'MMA Mount Rushmore'

Dana White has seen several top fighters come and go throughout his tenure as UFC president but his selection of the four fighters to comprise the "MMA Mount Rushmore" is more surprising for who was omitted than who was included.

From the halcyon days of the UFC, where fighters like Royce Gracie forever changed how no-holds-barred combat would take place, to modern-day champions like Amanda Nunes and Israel Adesanya, there have been several superstars in the UFC who have left an indelible impression on the sport's history. 

As the company's profile grew, first though series' like The Ultimate Fighter all the way to high-profile partnership deals with Reebok, Fox Sports and, most recently ESPN, mixed martial arts emerged from the shadows of being a niche sport to a genuine cultural phenomenon.

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This reputation, of course, was built on the back of the fighters who spilled their blood and sweat inside the octagon, but which fighters stand above the rest as athletes who have changed the landscape of the sport forever?

Dana White has made his picks, and some of them may surprise you.

"If you’re talking about a Mount Rushmore where the heads are carved in stone forever, you have to go Royce Gracie,” White said to The Schmozone Podcast.

"No-brainer. Have to do that.

"Amanda Nunes. Has to be Amanda Nunes. Greatest female fighter ever."

Gracie's impact on the sport in almost incalculable. The first UFC events were designed by his family as a way of popularizing their unique style of submission grappling, with Gracie employing these tactics to win three of the first four UFC tournaments. 

Nunes, the UFC's first female "champ champ", has also emerged as being a trailblazer for women's MMA, something which White says should guarantee her place as one of the four most influential fighters in the sport. 

The remaining names, though, proved a little more difficult to select.

"The other two are tough," he said.

"I would have to go with Jon Jones. 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.

"Number four on the Mount Rushmore, I guess you’d have to go with Chuck Liddell. 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."

However, critics of White's list have pointed out several big names that he has overlooked. Ronda Rousey was a transformative star for the women's game, while the likes of Randy Couture, Anderson Silva, B.J. Penn and Georges St-Pierre have also done enough in most people's eyes to highlight their candidacy.

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The absence, though, of both Conor McGregor and Khabib Nurmagomedov appears stark. McGregor is without question the most globally-famous fighter to ever represent the UFC, and the first to win titles in two weight classes simultaneously.

The Dubliner's Russian foe Nurmagomedov holds an undefeated record and is thought of by many as being the most dominant fighter on the roster over the course of the last several years.

But it seems his achievements to date aren't considered enough for White to hold him above the likes of Liddell and/or Forrest Griffin in mixed martial arts folklore.