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Southern Nevada Sports Hall of Fame to induct first MMA fighter

Every class of the Southern Nevada Sports Hall of Fame usually has some sort of thread that links its inductees to one another.

For this year’s group, it’s easy. They’re fighters. Some literally.

Mixed martial artist Frank Mir, former major league outfielder Marty Cordova, longtime public servant Sig Rogich and the 1998 national champion UNLV men’s golf team will be honored June 24 at Orleans Arena. They’re all battlers and never backed down from a challenge.

“This is our 20th anniversary, and we wanted a diverse group that reflects who we are,” Hall of Fame executive director Dan Dolby said. “You look at Sig; he’s a pioneer for boxing in the state, and he has been an advocate for not just Las Vegas but all of Nevada.

“Marty was always a scrappy ballplayer who left it all out on the field, and Frank helped make the UFC the popular sport it is. And the golf team were a bunch of battlers who never quit.”

Mir, a Bonanza High School graduate and state wrestling champion, was a two-time Ultimate Fighting Championship heavyweight champion and is the first MMA fighter to be inducted.

“It’s an immense honor to be the first UFC athlete inducted into the Southern Nevada Sports Hall of Fame,” he said. “This is something that will never be taken away from me, no matter what.

“Anytime you’re recognized for your past accomplishments, given any kind of compliment or put into the same context as people such as the Fertittas, Dana White, Andre Agassi or Greg Maddux, it’s amazing. Those names are staples in the Las Vegas community, and I’m humbled to be named along with such an impressive group.”

Cordova, a Bishop Gorman High School graduate, played nine seasons in the major leagues and was the 1995 American League Rookie of the Year after hitting .277 with 24 home runs and 85 RBIs for the Minnesota Twins.

“It’s something I’ve followed throughout the years and all the great names that have been inducted,” he said. “When I got the call I was being inducted, I was very excited. It’s something you think about but you can’t worry about because it wasn’t in my control.”

Rogich, who was on the Nevada Athletic Commission in the early 1980s and served as its chairman, said the honor was unexpected.

“I was blown away when they called,” he said. “You think of sports halls of fame and you think of great athletes. I was not a great athlete; I was always a behind-the-scenes kind of guy. I’ve always been involved in the process.

“But I’m proud of what we did on the athletic commission. We took major steps to ensure fighter safety, initiating the first study of brain injuries, changing boxing championship fights from 15 rounds to 12 rounds, adding a fourth rope instead of three, changing the way fighters’ hands are wrapped. All of those things have made the sport safer.”

Dwaine Knight, who coached the Rebels to the 1998 NCAA golf title, said the team was talented and close.

“They were a team in the truest sense of the word,” he said of the national champions, who were led by Charley Hoffman, Bill Lunde, Jeremy Anderson, Chris Berry and Scott Lander. “They picked each other up, and they were a scrappy bunch of guys.

“We were the preseason No. 1 team in the country, and we stayed at the top all the way until the end when we won in New Mexico. They were real fighters, and they never gave in to anyone. I’m so happy that the Hall is recognizing them as a team for what they did, not just for UNLV but for all of Las Vegas.”

Ticket information is available at SNSHF.com.

Contact reporter Steve Carp at scarp@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2913. Follow him on Twitter: @stevecarprj

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