What is it exactly that makes a Legend? Is it championships? Is it long lustrous careers? Is it victories over big name opponents? Mark Coleman (15-8 MMA, 6-3 UFC) possesses every one of those attributes, along with being inducted into the UFC hall of fame and being credited by many as the creator of the ground and pound. For someone as accomplished and successful as Coleman, legend may be an understatement.

Mark Coleman talked to the guys at Fight Network Radio (www.hardcoresportsradio.com) about his excitement of getting back into the UFC and back into the cage, “Well, I’m happy to be back in the cage. I prefer the cage. I prefer UFC rules and uh ya know I don’t know what Shogun prefers, but I like the cage. I think it’s gonna favor me a little bit, but were gonna have to wait and see,” Coleman said.

While his days of fighting in a ring and fighting in PRIDE are long behind him, not all the history is. At UFC 93 on January 17th at the O2 arena in Dublin, Ireland, Coleman will fight the very dangerous Mauricio ‘Shogun’ Rua (16-3 MMA, 0-1 UFC). Coleman fought Shogun in PRIDE back in February 2006 and won the fight when he took Shogun down and Shogun stuck out his arm to break the fall, landed awkward, and ended up breaking his arm.

While some say Coleman got ‘lucky’ against Shogun, he believes his victory over Shogun is justified, “… It was a legit win. I’m getting tired of hearing people say it was a lucky win. So basically I hit a single leg on him and switched off to a double leg. You never wanna reach out and post your arm like that when you are trying to break your fall, especially in wrestling. So if he does it again, his arm might break again. So maybe it’s unfortunate, but it is what it is,” Coleman said.

Coleman turned 44 just a few weeks ago and is finding out first hand the differences in preparing himself for the Octagon now, compared to training during his first run in the UFC. “Well ya, definitely you got to train a lot smarter then I did when I was younger. Ya basically when I was younger I trained full go, all out all the time, didn’t worry about injuries and uh I was very blessed and fortunate I never received too many, but as I got older you just can’t afford the injuries. They don’t heal up as fast and you lose too much time so you have to train a lot smarter and sometimes you have to take a little time off. Ya know you gotta train just as hard, just gotta train smarter,” Coleman said.

Coleman was originally scheduled to make his return against now heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar (3-1 MMA, 2-1 UFC) back in August, but was forced out due to an injury. “Well I definitely talked to a lot of people before I told’ em and uh I did debate on whether I should get in there on about 3/4 speed or whatever. I did let the UFC know if they were going to, if they were going to cut me because of this, I told’ em I’m definitely going to be fighting Brock Lesnar. Thankfully and fortunately they worked with me and they gave me a chance to take some time and let it heal up and I’m just very pleased and greatful they did give me time and to let it heal up and give me another shot here at 205,” Coleman said.

Since Coleman holds a previous victory over his opponent and the fact he got injured preparing for his previous fight, the question arose if he was taking this fight with Shogun a little lightly, “Oh hell no! Come on, it ain’t difficult to get up for any fight. This guy wants a piece of me bad. He’s young and hungry, I was young and hungry like that before and I know he’s angry and he wants me bad. He’s made it a little bit personal, so that forced me to make it personal. I’m just excited to be back in the UFC. That was my goal to get back in the UFC. It took longer than I anticipated, but I am extremely excited just to be fighting back in the big leagues,” Coleman said.

While Coleman has been judged and ridiculed by critics and fans alike, his passion for pleasing the fans is still what fuels him. “…I always fight for the fans and I really appreciate the fans’ loyalty and respect for me and uh I’m out there doing it for them,” Coleman said.

With so many up and coming young stars in MMA today, people may question why the UFC has brought Mark Coleman back into the Octagon. While they may question his ability to compete at the highest level again, they cannot question his dedication, his heart, his experience, and his desire to succeed and it’s because of those things that he is not only a dangerous fighter, but a legend.

By: Tim Thompson

The interview with Mark Coleman from Fight Network Radio took place on January 8, 2009. Fight Network Radio with host Mauro Ranallo is broadcast on Hardcore Sports Radio every weekday from 2:00 – 3:00 pm CST.

Fight Network Radio interview with Mark Coleman:

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