Mark Coleman walked off the wrestling mat and 30 days later he walked into a cage. He never imagined it could be what it turned out to be. Both on the macrocosm level of the sport evolving but also on the microcosm level of him carving out a path for UFC heavyweights for years to come. It was a compelling transition and arc overall. A boyhood dream of being regarded as the very best in the world. A dream that would see hardships interfere in a way that tested the mettle of The Hammer. A difficult but ultimately rewarding endeavor that resulted in self-actualization and the achievement of a lifelong goal.
Mark Coleman Amateur Wrestling Run
“It was my dream as a little kid to be an Olympic champion. I lived and died to be the best wrestler in the world. Never quite became number one world champion. I placed second in the world in ’91 then at the Olympics and I didn’t have a good tournament. Lost to two guys I had beaten the year prior. Finished seventh. I guess I just don’t handle losing so great because I went on a downward slide back then.”
“That was in 1992 but then that was right when the UFC was starting. I kept an eye on it from the beginning. I watched the very first show and I just really really hoped that what I was watching was real. Luckily I got a call, UFC 10 I was at the ’96 Olympic trials and when I lost there, there was a manager there who pulled me into the room and said he has a slot on UFC 10.”
Don Frye 1 and Dan Severn fights
“I fought Don Frye in the finals. This man is the toughest man I’ve ever fought. I was getting very worried because there was just no quit in Don Frye and they didn’t stop fights back then. I was getting very concerned about his health…. Finally I see Big John waved the fight off and finally I felt like I had achieved my childhood dream. I felt like I was number one in the world at something and that happened to be fighting. UFC 10, that was just an awesome night.”
“God bless Georgia and Alabama. I loved it down there. So grateful they put these shows on because without them the sport was in a lot of trouble. A lot of lawsuits, a lot of negative thoughts about the sport, and Alabama/ Georgia let us come in. They were very important to me because without them the show couldn’t go on. I didn’t care if it was in New York, Alabama or just in a gym somewhere. I just wanted to fight Dan Severn for the first-ever UFC heavyweight championship.”
Continued, “they told us about eight o’clock Friday night it had been canceled (the New York card)…..They quickly said pack your bags, let’s fly into Alabama. We jumped on a plane, got in about three or four in the morning, the next day there it was. Me and Dan Severn for the title, a title I coveted so bad. To be the first is so special to me.”