UFC Hall of Famer Mark “The Hammer” Coleman‘s historic mixed martial arts career is firmly etched into the memories of every long-time fan of this sport. The Ohio State University NCAA freestyle wrestling champion and 1992 Olympian helped revolutionize wrestling in MMA and ushered in the ground and pound era of the sport.
As the UFC 10 and UFC 11 Tournament Champion, the first UFC Heavyweight Champion and the Pride FC 2000 Open Weight Grand Prix Champion, Mark Coleman’s mark on the sport is nothing short of legendary.
ProMMAnow.com (www.prommanow.com) caught up with “The Hammer” this past week on Pro MMA Now Radio and asked him how he was adjusting to life outside the fight game.
“I miss it. Just like probably every fighter out there,” Coleman said. “I miss it and it went quick. It’s been over two years, but I still think about getting back in there. I still get phone calls and offers. There’s nothing better. Nothing can compare to walking in that Octagon or the ring and fighting. And win or lose, obviously winning, there’s no feeling like that. But there’s no feeling like losing either. They’re both something that I can’t… I can’t get that feeling.”
In 2009 Coleman (16-10) made a return to the UFC at the age of 45 after a long and successful career fighting for Pride Fighting Championships in Japan. He lost his first fight back against Mauricio “Shogun” Rua — but did win “Fight of the Night”. Then, almost 13 years to the day after he won his UFC debut, Coleman defeated Stephan Bonnar at UFC 100 by unanimous decision.
He talked about what that experience was like, coming back after so many years and picking up the win on the biggest UFC card in history.
“That’s my favorite fight of all time,” Coleman said. “I’ve won some belts. Of course winning the belts were close. But when I left the UFC, or when basically I got cut, my goal was to get back to the UFC. I didn’t know it was going to take that long. Pride turned out to be a pretty good organization and they took care of me very well, but finally I made it back into the UFC. Not such a good fight against Shogun, but I put together one of my best training camps ever. Like you said, I always had a tough time leaving my kids, but I just told them, ‘I gotta go.’ I went out to Vegas and I was out there for 70 days. I had a 70 day training camp and a pretty good base going into it to beat Stephan Bonnar. I would’ve like to have finished him, but I’ll be honest with ya man, I was just kind of holding on there sometimes. I wanted to win so bad, and that’s what I did, and that’s one of the highlights for sure. I’ve got a lot of highlights, I’ve been lucky, but that night was big to me. I love Stephan Bonnar. I think he’s won four straight since I beat him so I’m proud of him for coming back and I’m pulling for this guy.”
Now 47-years-old, Coleman has not fought since 2010. We asked Mark what it would take to get him back in the cage.
“I don’t know,” he said. “I’ve never officially said I’m done. And what would it take? I don’t know. I’m banged up and I’m gettin’ kind of old. So, I don’t know, we’ll see. If some kind of offer came up and they gave me enough notice and this and that, and I could put together a training camp. But just to get prepared and ready for a fight, it costs these guys a lot of money. There’s a lot of expenses involved in preparing for a fight, and I don’t care if I’m fighting in the UFC or fighting in any show, I still have to put in the time and preparation, and possibly leaving my kids again. It would be hard. It would be hard. But I can’t say no. I still watch it. I love it. I’m a big fan of it. But I tell you what, I watch these 205-pounders in the UFC now, woo, I’m kind of glad I’m watching.”
Pro MMA Now Radio, hosted by Gary Thomas and Jack Bratcher, is a member of the ProMMAnow.com Radio Network and airs LIVE each Thursday night at 10 p.m. ET (7 p.m. PT) on ProMMAnow.com (www.prommanow.com) and on BlogTalk Radio at www.blogtalkradio.com/prommanowradio.
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i am surprised that stephan bonner was back to fight tito ortiz….i wonder if ortiz and coleman ever fought?