Former heavyweight champion Bas Rutten to be inducted into UFC Hall of Fame

Bas Rutten joins the UFC Hall of Fame class of 2015

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Former heavyweight champion Bas Rutten will join the UFC Hall of Fame as part of the class of 2015, president Dana White announced on Friday night.

Rutten will be inducted into the pioneer wing of the UFC Hall of Fame, which accounts for fighters who began their careers prior to Nov. 17, 2000.

Rutten fought in the UFC on only two occasions, but he made quite the impression during an injury-shortened run in 1999.

The Dutch kickboxer who made his name fighting in Japan debuted at UFC 18, where he TKO’d Japanese legend Tsuyoshi Kohsaka before beating Kevin Randleman five months later to win the UFC heavyweight title.

Injuries forced Rutten to virtually disappear from the sport after that bout, although he did return for one final fight outside the UFC in 2006.

"I never expected to be inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame," Rutten said. "I won the UFC heavyweight title, but injuries cut my UFC run short. Most of my big wins were in Japan. I saw the new UFC Hall of Fame format and I thought maybe I could get in eventually as a contributor because of my years of commentating. But I’m so honored that the UFC recognized what I did as a fighter."

Rutten joins former UFC commentator, official and MMA judge Jeff Blatnick, who will be inducted into the contributors wins of the Hall Fame while the UFC 52 bout between Matt Hughes and Frank Trigg also will be inducted this year.

The UFC will announce one more 2015 inductee into the modern era wing covering fighters who began their careers after Nov. 17, 2000.

The induction ceremony will take place during international fight week culminating with UFC 189 Aldo vs. McGregor on July 11.