Mark Coleman: The Hammer
Mark Coleman was one of the first fighters that demonstrated the ability of wrestlers to dominate their opponents in MMA and one of UFC’s earliest stars. Coleman was included in UFC Hall of Fame. The Hammer’s finest wrestling skills made him of the first fighters in MMA to use ground-and-pound strategy, earning him the title of “Godfather of Ground and Pound”. Despite being a remnant of MMA old age, Mark Coleman was one of the toughest fighters in UFC’s recent history.
The Hammer won a silver medal in Wrestling World Championships in 1991 and was included in USA Olympic Team. Coleman finished seventh in Barcelona Olympics 1992. Unfortunately, Mark Coleman was not included in USA Olympic Team for 1996. That was the moment when the American decided to enter in MMA.
UFC was different in that age, with a few good fighters. Most of the fighters excelled in one discipline and tried to make use of it in order to win. As a result, wrestlers were counting on their ability to bring the opponent down and beat him on the ground. Also, UFC was an endurance test in that period, events being one-night tournaments. As a result, fighters were trying to finish the matches as soon as possible. The matches were characterized by short violent explosions in order to finish the opponent.
Mark Coleman debuted in UFC 10. The Hammer managed to pound Moti Horenstein to the ground and batter him with punches. Coleman did the same thing to Gary Goodridge in the next match. The final of the tournament was against one of UFC stars, Don Frye. Mark “The Hammer” Coleman became a star after he beat down Dan Frye in a long lasting battle of 11:34 minutes.
Coleman’s second tournament was not as interesting as the first one. The Hammer won in a dominant fashion.
Mark Coleman became the first UFC World Heavyweight Champion in 1997, after defeating Dan Severn with a neck crank in 2:57. The Hammer had to defend his UFC Heavyweight title against the underdog kickboxer Maurice Smith. Everybody considered that this should be an easy match for Coleman, that was preparing for a fight against the rising young star Vitor Belfort. Kickboxers did not win any UFC top level competitions, that were dominated by wrestlers and Jiu-Jitsu fighters. However, Smith produced the biggest upset in UFC history up to that point, winning a long match (21:00) by unanimous decision. The Hammer charged Smith, taking him down and ferociously punching him. However, Smith defended well and Coleman was exhausted after five minutes, having in front a kickboxing legend that started to kick the Hammer repeatedly.
Mark Coleman was very affected by this lost. Moreover, MMA rules changed by banning head-butts and wrestling shoes. Coleman lost his edge against opponents because he could not break the opponent’s guard with head-butts and his takedown ability was hampered because he could no longer use wrestling shoes. The Hammer seemed to have lost all his advantages and was defeated in the next 2 UFC matches.
Running low on money, Coleman decided to try his luck in Japan, in Pride. He immediately become a regular in Pride. Coleman regained his shape and at 35 years delivered a great comeback. Mark Coleman decided to enter in the greatest one-night tournament of that time, Pride Grand Prix 2000. Despite being considered a huge underdog in a tournament that included fighters like Royce Gracie, Kazushi Sakuraba and Mark Kerr, Coleman managed to achievement of his career by winning the tournament. The Hammer defeated Masaaki Satake, Akira Shoji, Kazuyuki Fujita and Igor Vovchanchyn. Igor Vovchanchyn was one of the toughest fighters, being able to sustain punches and kicks for unlimited period. Coleman knew that the final had no limit and had to find a way to finish the match. The Hammer took down the Russian and hit him with knees in the head. Mark Coleman re-established himself as one of the best MMA heavyweight fighters after that match.
The Godfather of Ground and Pound fought against Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira
and Fedor Emelianenko
and lost both matches. He then returned to his first love: UFC. The American was no longer in his prime and recorded several defeats. Coleman showed a glimmer of his prime in his match against Stephan Bonnar, when he won by unanimous decision.
Coleman ended his career with a loss against Randy Couture, in the only battle of already-inducted Hall of Famers in UFC history.
Mark Coleman was one of the UFC pioneers, a man that always managed to reinvent himself. He has 16 wins, out of which 8 by submission and 4 knockouts.