5 Defining Moments: Mark Coleman

By Mark Raymundo Mar 19, 2019


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Mark Coleman was highly pivotal in putting wrestling on the map during mixed martial arts’ early years. He retired in 2010 following a loss to Randy Couture, but his accomplishments inside the cage are hard to overlook. Accolades include two Ultimate Fighting Championship tournament wins, a UFC heavyweight title and a Pride Fighting Championships Grand Prix win.

“The Hammer” has surely crafted a career filled with defining moments, and here are five that truly stand out.

Wrestling Dominance

Coleman is credited as the first world-class wrestler to compete in the UFC. With his strong takedowns and overall superior grappling, the former Olympian won the UFC 10 and 11 tournaments, defeating Moti Horenstein, Gary Goodridge, Don Frye, Julian Sanchez, Brian Johnston and Dan Severn. He went on to capture the inaugural UFC heavyweight championship and top the 2000 Pride FC Openweight Grand Prix. With all his accomplishments, Coleman proved that wrestlers can dominate in MMA.

Pivotal Skid

After his early success winning two UFC tournaments and the heavyweight title, Coleman was expected to dominate Lion’s Den representative Maurice Smith when they met at UFC 14. To the surprise of many, the up-and-coming Smith outworked the champion in an exhausting fight that lasted 21 minutes (15-minute regulation plus two 3-minute overtimes). While Coleman was able to take Smith down, the kickboxer was able to defend well and attack when the fight was on the feet. This loss was followed by three more defeats to Pete Williams, Pedro Rizzo and a questionable-looking match against Nobuhiko Takada.

Against the Odds

There was a time when Ukrainian powerhouse Igor Vovchanchyn was considered the best heavyweight in the world. He had won multiple tournaments and was on a 37-fight winning streak when he faced Coleman in their Pride FC Openweight Grand Prix finals showdown. However, the former UFC heavyweight champion scored takedowns almost at will and capitalized from dominant positions, eventually forcing a tap in the second round. With the victory, Coleman reinstated his name among the sport’s elite.

Still Pounding

When Coleman was 44 years-old and nearing retirement, he faced 32 year-old Stephan Bonnar in a light heavyweight match at the historic UFC 100. “The Hammer” repeatedly scored takedowns and pounded on his opponent when the opportunities arose. In the end, he was awarded the unanimous decision victory 10 years after his previous UFC appearance.

Hall of Famer Vs. Hall of Famer

The UFC 109 tussle between Coleman and Randy Couture was one for the books and “The Natural” won by second-round submission. Their combined age of 91 makes it even more amazing. Few people know that Coleman did score a victory over Couture decades before in a freestyle wrestling match at the 1989 Olympic Festival. Advertisement

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