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This is my second edition of the five of the greatest UFC-bred heavyweights. For part one click here.
Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) has been around a mere 18 years and has seen some of the best fighters to date walk through its Octagon door.
The most notable fighter to not yet compete inside the "Sin City" cage has to be Fedor Emelianenko, who may also be the greatest heavyweight of all time.
With the recent plight of injuries, the promotion's heavyweight division was overshadowed by the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix which features Alistair Overeem, Fabricio Werdum, "Bigfoot" Silva, Brett Rogers, Sergei Kharitonov and Josh Barnett.
Between 1998-2005 Japanese promotion Pride FC had three of the very best heavyweights ever in Emelianenko, "Minotauro" Nogueira and Mirko "Cro Cop." Those three would fight each other for the top spot which was undoubtedly held by "The Last Emperor."
I would love to see who you guys felt are the top five UFC heavyweights of all time were and at least choose the one you think outranks them all.
Canidate #2: Mark Coleman
Notable Accomplishments: Winner of UFC 10 tournament, Winner of UFC 11tournament, Unified the UFC Superfight title with the Inaugural UFC Heavyweight Title, Pride FC openweight grand prix winner, three-time gold medalist in freestyle wrestling at the Pan American Championships (1990, 1991, and 1992), one-time gold medalist in free style wrestling at the 1991 Pan America Games and UFC Hall of Famer
The Ohio native and olympic wrestler was the first to establish how dominant and effective wrestling could be in mixed martial arts. He also coined the nickname "The godfather of ground and pound" for the merciless damage he caused a mounted opponent.
He also used a neck crank or as fans called it the "Coleman crank" to torture his opponents. His double-leg takedowns and single-leg takedowns are still widely considered the best ever.
Coleman revolutionized the sport and was even a main factor why head-butting is now illegal. Legendary fighter Fedor Emelianenko has said that Coleman was one of his heroes and inspirations for ground and pound tactics.
In his Ocatgon debut and five years removed from his pinnacle in freestyle wrestling, Mark Coleman would win the UFC 10 tournament. He would beat Motti Horenstien under two minutes from the bell by way of strikes and move on to fighting the legendary Gary Goodridge.
Mark Coleman would outlast "Big Daddy" when Goodridge would bow out due to exhaustion.
Coleman then faced the ever-popular Don Frye to settle who was the tournament winner. The two would exchange everything in their arsenal for 11 minutes when the "Hammer" would be too much, winning by TKO.
Coleman loved the competition and fighting so much that he entered the UFC 11 tournament a month and a half later. In just over three minutes of fighting Coleman had won UFC 11 over unknowns Julian Sanchez and Brian Johnston.
With a short break from fighting Coleman would finally get his name in the marquee when he would square off against UFC Super Fight champion Dan Severn.
The bout didn't last long and even though both had a very good base in wrestling the much stronger Coleman took it to the wily old veteran. At the 2:57 mark of round one Coleman had become the first ever UFC heavyweight champion and was undefeated at 6-0.
It should have been a triumphant story of the Olympic wrestler dominating the UFC, but instead was the beginning of his collapse. Like past candidate Frank Mir, Coleman had a hard time with elite strikers or fighters who could "sprawl n' brawl" to negate takedowns and dictate the fight.
In his first and only defense of the UFC heavyweight strap, Coleman faced kickboxing champion Maurice Smith. The match-up was as basic as the UFC loved it, wrestler vs. striker.
UFC 14 was in Birmingham, Alabama, and the crowd of 5,000 witnessed an instant classic display of heart and will on the hands of both men. The relationship between Smith and Frank Shamrock proved to pay off with the cross training.
After a long 21 minutes of fighting, the two combatants stood on either side of John McCarthy as the judges read their decision. Maurice Smith a very small heavyweight for the time but had won the UFC heavyweight strap and Coleman would fall off the wagon.
Coleman would lose to Pete Williams by a highlight reel head kick followed by a close split decision to Pedro Rizzo before exiting the UFC before his later return. Coleman would travel all the way to the Japan-based Pride FC to get back in the game.
His tenure in Japan was much like his UFC start: Highs and lows.
He would square off against HUSTLE promoter Nobhuiko Takada at Pride 5. The match had been seen as a "worked" or staged fight. Coleman felt the pressure of job security but has never admitted to it being a feigned loss.
Here's he direct quote when asked about the fight being a work:
"It was what it was. I needed to support my family. They guaranteed me another fight after that and I needed that security. It was what it was. I'm going to leave it at that."
With four straight losses and losing confidence, Coleman needed to regain his steam.
At Pride 8 Coleman came back and won a decision over Ricardo Morais and earned a slot into the first ever Pride FC open weight grand prix.
The 16-man tournament featured stars like Coleman, Mark Kerr, Igor Vovchanchyn, Sakuraba, Guy Mezger and UFC legend Royce Gracie. The promoters were wishing for an epic showdown between wrestlers Mark Coleman and Mark Kerr.
Both were beyond dominant in their respective UFC stints
The problems outside the ring for Kerr mounted and can be seen in the documentary "The Smashing Machine." Coleman defeated Masaaki Satakeby submission in a mere 1:14 seconds in the opening round. In the second round he sent Akira Shoji home after a 15 minute decision.
Coleman waited in the ring for his semifinal match-up against Kazuyuki Fujita. The clearly-injured Fujita and his corner threw in the towel and forfeited the fight.
The finals proved to be a great finale to a tournament which featured the emergence of Sakuraba as a star in his win over favored Royce Gracie.
In the final minutes Mark Coleman unleashed the most brutal attack of knees ever seen to a grounded opponent. After about five knees Coleman had become the Grand Prix winner and showed his joy when he leaped and failed to reach the ring corner ropes
A win over Allan Goes at Pride 13 gave Coleman all the credentials to step up in competition against one of the top three Pride FC heavyweights. He first plunge would have him facing BJJ wizard and resilient heavyweight Antonio Nogueira.
Coleman would fight a hard fought effort but the ground game was "Minotauro's" turf and he made Coleman pay by locking in a slick arm-triangle choke.
Pride FC would match up two loved and respected UFC legends in Don Frye and Mark Coleman at Pride 26. The two hadn't fought one another since UFC 10 when Coleman won the tournament final over Frye.
The match wasn't legendary but still a hotly contested brawl that went the full time limit. Coleman would get the "W" after judges gave him the decision over the "Predator."
Coleman would go on to face Fedor Emelianenko, a man who held Coleman in the highest regards as a hero of his in MMA. Pride FC made its first step into the North American market when it featured UFC star Mark Coleman against Fedor in the main event
Fedor heavily outclassed Coleman in both fights but in each attempt Coleman showed a lot of heart and lost nothing in losing to the best heavyweight ever (quite possibly).
Coleman was scheduled to return to the UFC against future UFC heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar. After some thinking Coleman knew he could not compete with such a beast and at that size.
Coleman would venture back into the UFC but this time as a light heavyweight. He would go 1-1 at 205-pounds (win over Stephan Bonnar, loss to "Shogun" Rua) in his first two attempts. The UFC gave Coleman one last headlining spot, much to the chagrin of some UFC fans.
UFC 109 was a showcase of two of the best UFC heavyweights ever when 'The Natural" Randy Couture faced "The Hammer" Mark Coleman.
The fight showed how far Couture had evolved and Coleman's inability to, and was the death of maybe the greatest UFC heavweight to date. Couture won by a landslide and ended it by a rear naked choke in the second round.
What we know is that Coleman revolutionized the role of wrestler for generations to come and build upon. If he could have adapted and expanded his game, no one knows what really could have been of Coleman's legacy.
The "Hammer" should be looked back on fondly of and remembered as a true warrior of the Octagon.
Whatcha' Maniacs think of UFC Hall of Famer Mark Coleman as one of the greatest UFC heavyweight ever?
Candidates 3-5 coming soon.