When Mark Coleman stepped into the ring for his light heavyweight showdown against Mauricio Rua, which took place at PRIDE 31 from the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan, back on Feb. 26, 2006, there was little question as to what his gameplan was.
They didn't call him "The Godfather of Ground-and-Pound" because he liked to bang it out on the feet.
That's the kind of offense that came with the turf. "The Hammer" was an NCAA Division I national wrestling champion, the first UFC heavyweight champion and the 2000 PRIDE Open Weight Champion. In his prime, he was one of the biggest and baddest men to throw down in the early days of mixed martial arts (MMA).
But this was "Shogun's" world.
Key losses to Fedor Emelianenko and Mirko Filipovic, two of the top heavyweight fighters at the time, forced the overmatched Coleman to rethink his career, resulting in a drop down to the 205-pound division, a place owned by the 24 year-old Brazilian.
Rua was already 12-1 with 11 terrifying knockouts and claimed the 2005 grand prix title by destroying Quinton Jackson, along with Alistair Overeem and Ricardo Arona, while turning away Antonio Rogerio Nogueira by way of unanimous decision.
Considering his youth and relative inexperience, defeating those four men was nothing short of extraordinary.
Coleman, however, was not the type of fighter to be intimidated. Having already competed against a who's-who of top talent in combat sports, the former Olympian looked calm, cool and collected as they touched gloves just moments before the action got underway.
Here's what happened.
Rua uncorks a head kick that barely clips the temple of his attacker. Coleman has seen enough of the stand-up and charges in, tying up the Brazilian and dragging him to the floor. "Shogun" pivots and locks up an arm, but "The Hammer" picks him up and slams him down to break free.
After a brief scramble, Rua rolls to his belly and secures a kneebar. Coleman grimaces, but is able to muscle out of the hold and wrap up his opponent's legs. "Shogun" spins and dives for safety, but gets tangled in the arms of "The Hammer," who brings him down in much the same way a running back is brought down in pursuit of the end zone.
Without warning, the referee dives in to stop the fight.
Unbeknownst to many of the fans in attendance, as well as those watching at home, Rua posted his arm in an awkward position and dislocated his elbow upon impact. It was not until the live camera moved closer that viewers were able to see the extent of the gruesome injury.
Then, all hell broke loose.
As the referee clung to Coleman's leg to keep him from attacking, Rua's corner -- including his brother Murilo -- charged the ring to check on the fallen warrior, who was immobilized by the fight-ending mishap. "The Hammer" saw that as an act of aggression and began screaming at "Ninja."
Moments later, fists were flying.
With poor "Shogun" on the ground, writhing in pain, Chute Boxe and Hammer House were having a goddamn battle royal between the ropes. Wanderlei Silva, sitting ringside for the highly-anticipated bout, wound up slugging it out with Phil Baroni as bodies went flying in every direction.
Even Coleman's 66 year-old father got in a few licks.
"The Axe Murderer" would later accuse "The New York Bad Ass" of stepping on his throat and kicking him in the face while he was being restrained, unable to defend. Regrettably, these two would never have the opportunity to settle their score inside the cage.
After the bout, Coleman blew his stack inside the locker room.
"I got sucker punched three times out there! Ninja, and fuckin' Silva, they both suckered my ass! Cheap motherfuckers! It's bullshit! Silva, you got one coming. Little ass Ninja, you better keep your ass down at 185 buddy. Cheap motherffff... I better watch my language. My mom's watching."
Coleman would eventually apologize, but Chute Boxe did not accept.
Rua -- who needed surgery to repair the ligament damage in his elbow -- would get his revenge nearly three years later after both fighters were scooped up by Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). While the contest was hardly a blockbuster in terms of action, "Shogun" was able to secure a third-round technical knockout win at UFC 93 in Dublin, Ireland.
One year after that, he was UFC light heavyweight champion.
A lot has changed since then, but the 31 year-old Brazilian is still finding himself paired off against wrestlers. He takes on the venerable Chael Sonnen in the main event of this Saturday night's (Aug. 17, 2013) UFC Fight Night 26 event, which goes down from the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts.
And in that respect, takedown landings are a lot like airplane landings: Any one that you can walk away from has to be considered a good one, a painful lesson Rua learned at the ironically-named "Unbreakable" event that fateful night in Japan.