ALL TIME TOP 25: # 15

 



MARK COLEMAN



"THE HAMMER"/o:p


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MMA Record: 16-9-0/o:p


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Pride Open Weight Grand Prix Champion/o:p


UFC Heavyweight Champion/o:p


UFC 10 Tournament Winner/o:p


UFC 11 Tournament Winner/o:p


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UFC Hall of Fame/o:p


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The "Godfather of Ground and Pound", Mark Coleman has been a fixture in the sport for the last thirteen years. In the short history of this sport he has competed, and won championships in the two major organizations, Pride and the UFC. He has, at times, been the most celebrated and most frustrating competitor in the sport. "The Hammer" has established himself as an important cog in the rich history of the sport. He executed and revolutionized one of the most simple yet effective ways to win a fight. Take a guy down, get on top of him, and beat him up. Even though we had seen this strategy before, to a degree, it was Coleman that really made it an art form and brought it to the forefront of the Mixed Martial Arts world. Mark could not have arrived in the sport at a more perfect time either. With the success of Dan Severn in the early UFC's, wrestling had begun to become a widely accepted form of Mixed Martial Arts, and just when Don Frye came in and started winning with a combination of boxing and wrestling, Coleman came along and reminded us how effective it can be to take a guy down, get on top of him, and beat him up. Although he doesn't boast quite as impressive of a record as some of his peers as far as numbers go, he has routinely fought the best the sport has to offer. He's gutted out some of the toughest losses and setbacks in the sport and he's come back time and time again determined to continue to compete and win in the sport he loves. Of the other 24 other fighters on the top 25 list, Coleman's fought 6 of them, and some of them twice. All in all 10 of his career fights have been against top 25 guys. He still goes into the cage today, at 44 years old and competes with the top guys in his weight class. We should all be so lucky to accomplish what Coleman has with such a simple approach to our profession…..take it down, get on top of it, and beat it up./o:p




Mark burst onto the Mixed Martial Arts scene at UFC 10. As stated before he was the latest in an array of championship wrestlers who were invading the world of Mixed Martial Arts and gaining instant success. Coleman was the upgrade to all of them. “The Hammer” had been an Olympian for the United States in Barcelona. As good as Dan Severn and Don Frye were before them, Coleman was far and away the most accomplished wrestler in the sport when he arrived. He was powerfully built and his style was relentless. UFC 10 had the assembled the most talented group of stars it had at that point, and outside of the Ultimate Ultimate it was arguably the most stacked collection of fighters from the early UFC’s. In the first round Coleman demolished kickboxer Moti Horenstein. In the second round, he was matched against Gary Goodridge. Gary Goodridge was a large man who had made a name for himself with the vicious elbow strikes he used to knock out wrestler Paul Herrera two UFC’s earlier. Coleman dispatched of Goodridge with ease, taking him down at will and forcing Goodridge to tap due to the perilous position he was placed in. It was in the finals of UFC 10 that Mark Coleman made his mark on the sport. His opponent was Don Frye, the winner of the last UFC tournament at UFC 8. Frye was considered by many to be the top guy in the sport. In addition to winning the tournament at UFC 8 with relative ease, he was fresh off a brutal beatdown of Brazilian superstar Amaury Bittetti. Frye was an accomplished boxer and wrestler, but even Frye was no match for Colemans brutal groundpound. Being the superior wrestler, Coleman took Frye to the mat and held him down, delivering punch after punch before forcing Frye to tap out due to strikes. It took him nearly 11 minutes to do it, but that is more of a nod to Frye’s toughness then Colemans inability to finish a fight. His ground and pound was light years ahead of anyone else in the sport, and he was crowned the new king of heavyweights in the UFC. His road to the top in UFC 11 would be easy by comparison. He ran through the overmatched Julian Sanchez in just 45 seconds, then dispatched of Brian Johnson in just over two minutes. This is all it would take, as the other competitors in the competition had all suffered injuries, and Coleman was declared the winner./o:p


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Coleman’s next bout would be against Dan Severn, and it was announced that the winner would be declared the first ever UFC Heavyweight Champion. In one of the rare moments in sports when we truly witness a legitimate “passing of the torch” moment, Mark Coleman, the innovator of ground and pound, outwrestled and outpositioned the man who had brought wrestling to the Octagon in the first place. Coleman submitted Severn with a neck crank after roughly three minutes and was officially declared the very first UFC World Heavyweight Champion. At the time Coleman seemed to be unstoppable. The Mixed Martial Arts world had it’s first true heavyweight champion and many assumed it would be a long time before he was knocked off. At the time, the sport was dominated by grapplers and it was widely assumed that anyone who entered the Octagon attempting to defeat Coleman would simply be taken down and bludgeoned with Colemans vicious strikes from the top position. Needing a credible opponent for the champions first title defense, they called upon Frank Shamrock teammate and former K-1 Kickboxer Maurice Smith. Smith was, at the time, considered amongst the most dangerous strikers in the sport, and the UFC ingeniously billed their first title fight as “The Ultimate Striker against The Ultimate Grappler”. It would turn out to be not only an exciting main event, but a turning point in the sport, and the career of one if it’s great combatants./o:p


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When Maurice Smith famously said before the fight that Mark Coleman “punched like a girl”, it was widely assumed by fight fans that these comments would cost him. They assumed that Mark would simply bowl over the kickboxer with his unstoppable takedowns and pound him into submission. Smith, however, had come to the fight with a strategy. Training with Frank Shamrock, he theorized that if he could wait out Colemans aggressive onslaught that the champion would eventually tire himself out, and a tired Coleman would not be able to take Maurice down, and if Smith could stay on his feet he could pick the champion apart. At the same time it was widely rumored that Coleman himself would train under the assumption that the fight would only last 5 minutes. His own dominance had hurt him, as he assumed there was no fighter in the world who could last that long with him. Unfortunately for Coleman, the plan that Smith came in with worked perfectly. As soon as the bell rang Coleman unleashed a furious onslaught, but staying true to his world Smith held on and played defense, enduring Colemans punches and letting the champion tire himself out. As the fight went into the later rounds, Coleman could barely stand up from exhaustion. His hands dropped to his side and he was breathing through his mouth. Smith picked Coleman apart, and when the bell rang he was awarded a judges decision victory and became the UFC Heavweight Champion. The result of this fight shocked the MMA world. It was assumed that the UFC belonged to the Wrestlers, and they were not supposed to lose to kickboxers. This fight strengthened the ever growing theory that the style did not matter as much as the individual who was employing that style. Coleman had suffered the first loss of his career, but more importantly his aura of invincibility was shattered./o:p


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Coleman took some time off and returned to the UFC in an event titled “Redemption”. It was assumed that certainly “The Hammer” would bounce back from his loss and reclaim the Heavyweight division. His only flaw had been his cardio, or lack thereof, and an in shape Coleman should have been unbeatable. Unfortunately, in almost a horrific repeat of his fight with Smith, Coleman was again outfoxed by the same game plan, this time by Lion’s Den fighter Pete Williams. The extreme difference in this fight is that when Pete rose to his feet, he knocked Coleman unconsciouss with a kick to the face. It was a highlight reel type knockout that is style played to this day. If Colemans aura of invincibility was shattered by Smith, then the loss to Williams blew the pieces away into the wind, never to be rebuilt. There were rumors that perhaps Coleman had a heart condition that caused his fatigue, but he had been successful for so long in so many other sports that for this condition to emerge now was questionable. Regardless, the previously unflappable Coleman had now dropped two fights in a row, and his next two bouts would continue to eat at the psyche of the former Champion./o:p




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After taking 8 months off to recuperate and focus on training, including training with the Lion’s Den, Coleman made his return to the Octagon against dangerous Brazilian striker Pedro Rizzo. Coleman and Rizzo fought a close battle, and this time Coleman did go the full 15 minutes of the fight without collapsing from exhaustion. When the fight ended, however, the judges awarded the split decision win to Pedro Rizzo. It remains to this day a controversial decision, and there were whispers that the UFC wanted Pedro to remain undefeated to make a run at the Heavyweight title. With the Japanese beginning to emerge as a serious competitor with the Pride Organization many assumed that the higher ups would prefer an undefeated champion. Shaken by coming so close yet being so far from a successful return to fighting in the UFC, Coleman packed his bags and left for Japan./o:p


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Coleman arrived in Japan and signed with Pride. In addition, he had begun working as a pro wrestler with the HUSTLE organization. It was this mixed connection between professional wrestling and mixed martial arts in Japan that made some question Colemans next loss as much as they had his loss against Pedro Rizzo. He was pitted against Japanese professional wrestler Nobuhikio Takada. Takada had previously competed against the legendary Rickson Gracie twice in fights that were considered slightly suspicious. Rickson was allegedly the greatest Jiu Jitsu practicioner in the world, and had taken a long time to defeat the seemingly overmatched Takada. Takada, however, was wildly popular in his native Japan and it was assumed that, to use a professional wrestling term, Coleman was brought to “put Takada over”, or in other words take a dive in the fight so Takada could hold a win over a former UFC champion and be considered a legit MMA champion. The usually hyper aggressive Coleman did not attempt a takedown until two minutes in the first round, then spent the entire round on top of Takada doing very little to finish the fight. He threw very few strikes, and made a couple half hearted submission attempts. In the second round, Coleman took Takada down and landed in the sidemount. To the amazement of commentators and onlookers, Coleman mysteriously moved into the less advantageous position of Takadas guard, then simply seemed to stand up and leave his leg hanging there for Takada to pull in and tap Coleman out with a heel hook. Nobody wanted to say it at the time, but needless to say observers were shocked. After the fight Coleman would famously make reference to “doing what it takes to feed his family” when asked about the fight./o:p


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He returned to the ring and defeated Brazilian Ricardo Morais, earning his spot in the upcoming Pride Open Weight Grand Prix tournament. This tournament would be Colemans chance to overcome everything bad that had happened in his career. It was a longshot, but if Coleman could win this event it would automatically go down as one of the greatest performances in Mixed Martial Arts history. The first round of the tournament was held in January, and Coleman easily defeated the overmatched Masaake Sataki by neck crank in under two minutes. The rest of the fights would be held on one night in May, and it featured the best of the best in not only the Pride Organization, but the entire world of Mixed Martial Arts. The event featured Royce Gracie, who had returned for this very tournament and defeated the aforementioned Takada. Kazushi Sakuraba, who is considered by many to be the greatest pound for pound fighter in the history of the sport. Igor Vovchanchyn, the Russian striker and one of the legends of the fighting world. Mark Kerr, Colemans teammate and another man who was a huge, powerful wrestler that had tore through the MMA world. The much improved Gary Goodridge, who was emerging as a dangerous heavyweight. Japanese superstar Akira Shoji, and finally the undefeated Kazuyuki Fujita. In the first round, Coleman defeated Akira Shoji by unanimous decision, and would move on to face the dangerous Fujita. In his first round fight, Fujita had defeated Mark Kerr, the man many considered to be a more dangerous and well rounded version of Coleman himself. Even in the loss however, Colemans teammate had given him a hand. Fujita came out for the fight, but could not continue on in the tournament and had his corner throw in the towel, declaring Coleman the victor. Now, “The Hammer” was one fight away from his redemption. It would not be easy though, as he would have to fight the heavily favored Igor Vovchanchyn. Igor had the most devastating punches in the sport. His knockout power was the stuff of legend, and he was considered the favorite by many to win the entire tournament. In what is most likely the most impressive performance of his career, Coleman caught Vovchanchyn up against the corner of the ring and delivered a series of vicious knee strikes to the head of the powerful Russian. The fight was stopped, and Coleman had won the biggest tournament in the history of the sport. /o:p


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Mark “The Hammer” Coleman, years after many considered him finished, was on top of the Mixed Martial Arts world. In his first fight since his huge win in the Grand Prix, Coleman fought and defeated Brazilian Jiu Jitsu expert Allen Goes. This victory, coupled with his win of the Pride Grand Prix, set him up for a fight with Heavyweight Champion Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, who was at the time the number one Heavyweight fighter in the world. Coleman fought gamely with the champion, but in the end was overcome by Nogueiras superior submission skills when he was caught in a triangle choke/armbar and forced to tap out. After this tough loss Coleman decided to take some time off from competing, to focus on coaching and spending time with his family./o:p


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Mark returned to the Pride ring in June of 2003 to face a familiar foe, Don “The Predator” Frye. It had been seven years since these two last met in the UFC’s Octagon, and Coleman was returning from a career threatening neck injury. Coleman employed a similar strategy to the first fight, but this time the bout went the full twenty minutes and he was awarded the victory with a unanimous decision. Although it was not the most exciting fight in the history of the sport, Coleman had nonetheless made a successful return to the sport. Wanting to focus on training and spending time with his family, Mark had resigned himself to fighting roughly once a year. His next fight would take place in the 2004 Pride Heavyweight Grand Prix. It was a celebration of sorts for Coleman, as he would be honored as the man who had previously won the Open Weight Grand Prix in 2000. In his first round match, however, he was paired against reigning Pride Heavyweight Champion, and consensus number one heavyweight fighter in the world, Fedor Emelianenko. Fedor had only one loss in his entire career, and it was due to a cut he suffered in the first round of a fight, a loss he later avenged in brutal fashion. Although Coleman had shown glimpses of the man who had turned in three great tournament victories in the past, at this point in his career he couldn’t overcome this challenge and Emelianenko caught Mark in an armbar in the first round, forcing him to tap out. Although he lost, “The Hammer” could at least take solace in the fact that nobody else had really beaten Fedor either. In his next fight, he was again matched up with a top Heavyweight who was in the prime of his career, Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic. Mirko was coming off of a win over Hammer House member Kevin Randleman, and Coleman would attempt to avenge the loss to his team. Cro Cop, however, proved to be to much of a match for Coleman, knocking him out for the second time of his career./o:p


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Mark returned to his winning ways by dispatching of Milcoo Vorn on a Bushido card with an Arm triangle choke. At this time Coleman had moved down to the 205 pound weight class, and would return to Pride to fight the man many considered to be the uncrowned champion of the 205 pound weight class, Mauricio “Shogun” Rua. Rua was fresh off a victory in Pride’s Middleweight Grand Prix, which is considered to be the greatest collection of Middleweight fighters in the sports history. Coleman quickly took the Muay Thai expert down, and as Mauricio went to return to his feet Coleman wrestled him back to the ground. In the process, Rua fell awkwardly and dislocated his elbow. The official noticed the injury and immediately rushed in the stop the fight. For whatever reason, Coleman continued to fight and when the referee got between them, Coleman tossed the official to the side. At this point, Mauricios brother Murilo came into the ring, and when this occurred it led to an all out brawl between Colemans Hammer House team, including Phil Baroni who had been in Mark’s corner, and the Chute Boxe team, who along with the Rua brothers had Wanderlei Silva in their corner. When the dust settled and cooler heads had finally prevailed, Coleman attempted to apologize to Silva and the Chute Boxe team, but they were furious at what had happened and refused to accept Colemans apology. What was overlooked in the heat of all this is that despite the drama surrounding it, the 41 year old Mark Coleman had scored a victory over one of the best 205 pound fighters on the planet./o:p


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Later that year, the Japanese based Pride organization came to the United States for the first time for Pride 32. Attempting to capitalize on the opportunity the card featured many of the well known American fighters that were competing for Pride, and the main event featured American Olympic Wrestling alum Mark Coleman, against Pride Heavyweight Champion Fedor Emelianenko. This was a rematch from their fight two years earlier. This time, in front of the home crowd, Coleman fought valiantly and at times appeared to be able to hang with unbeatable champion, but in the second round he was again overtaken by an armbar from the Russian champion and forced to tap out. This would be his last fight in the Pride organization, and at 41 years old many assumed that, despite a press conference he gave stating otherwise, that Mark would retire and leave the fighting world forever.



That would all change, however, when on March 1st, 2008, Coleman was inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame. He announced that he would continue to fight, and that he had signed to take on former pro wrestler and NCAA Wrestling Champion Brock Lesnar at UFC 87. Unfortunately, Coleman injured his knee while training and was replaced by Heath Herring. Coleman, however, did not back out on his promise to return to the Octagon, and at UFC 93 he renewed his rivalry with Mauricio Rua. Although Rua himself was battling an injury, Mark was at this point 44 years old and many assumed he would be overwhelmed by the vicious Brazilian. Instead Mark took the fight to the end of the third round in a closely fought battle before finally succumbing to strikes from the Muay Thai expert. Even though he had lost, he proved that he could still hang in the ring with the best the sport had to offer. Finally, at UFC 100 he was once again victorious in the Octagon when he beat “The Ultimate Fighter” superstar Stephan Bonnar by unanimous decision. Ironically it was the undercard to the highest growing PPV even in UFC history, when in the main event, Brock Lesnar ground and pounded his way to a victory over Frank Mir to defend his heavyweight title. /o:p


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Almost 13 years to the day, and 90 numerical UFC’s later, the Godfather of Ground and Pound had successfully returned to the Octagon. In the process, he watched the new generation of fighter wear the same belt that Coleman had over a decade before. The belt was defended with a simple strategy, take a guy down, get on top of him, and beat him up. I’m sure Coleman couldn’t have been happier./o:p

Thanks!

Not one Antidote reference?

Jesus, stop saying "assumed"!!

Mike Sanders - Jesus, stop saying "assumed"!!


 lol holy shit

 another great write up...but not to be the grammar police but last sentence of second to last paragraph:

"Ironically it was the undercard to the highest growing PPV even in UFC history, when in the main event, Brock Lesnar ground and pounded his way to a victory over Frank Mir to defend his heavyweight title."



is that supposed to be "highest grossing PPV ever"?

Festus -  another great write up...but not to be the grammar police but last sentence of second to last paragraph:

"Ironically it was the undercard to the highest growing PPV even in UFC history, when in the main event, Brock Lesnar ground and pounded his way to a victory over Frank Mir to defend his heavyweight title."



is that supposed to be "highest grossing PPV ever"?

lol. One of the main reasons I'm posting these all here like this is that I haven't had time to proof read them yet. I appreciate it