Mark Coleman – The Hammer’s Ultimate Fighter 19 Season Recap
By Dave Carpinello
One of mixed martial arts true pioneers, UFC Hall of Famer and legend, Mark “The Hammer” Coleman is a member of Team Penn’s coaching staff on The Ultimate Fighter 19 Team Edgar vs. Team Penn. “The Godfather of Ground ‘n Pound” first arrived in the UFC back in 1996, winning his first two tournaments in dominating fashion, including a win over Don Frye at UFC 10, and becoming the first UFC Heavyweight Champion after submitting UFC Superfight Champion Dan Severn with a neck crank submission at UFC 12. The PRIDE 2000 Grand Prix Open-weight Tournament Champion retired in 2013 with notable wins over Shogun Rua, Dan Severn, Stephan Bonnar, Dan Frye (2x) and Igor Vovchanchyn. Prior to starting his mixed martial arts career, Coleman was a decorated wrestler having competed in the Olympics, FILA World Freestyle Wrestling Championships, Pan American Championships and was the 1988 NCAA Division I Champion.
Mark spent this season of TUF answering your questions and here is his final Weekly Q&A, hope you enjoyed it and thanks for reading!
1. What was the best part of being on the coaching staff for season 19 of The Ultimate Fighter?
Mark Coleman – Day one comes to mind because I hadn’t been around fighting and/or training for a while and out of nowhere I got asked to be on BJ Penn’s coaching staff. I flew to Vegas, got off the plane and walked into the TUF Gym and I started warming up 16 fighters for the elimination fights. It brought back an energy in me from that first day that I had been missing for a long time and I went in there with the mentality that I was preparing myself for a fight and it all just clicked right away. I was glad it did because to be honest I was very nervous on the plane ride out there wondering how I was going to fit into the whole Team and Coach dynamic that was awaiting me. But it all turned out great and the eight guys we ended up with on our team were very respectful and grateful of all of us coaches that were there to help them succeed. I am usually a guy that likes to earn people’s respect by grabbing a hold of them and tossing them to the mat but these guys respected me without that happening and in the end we did get in some good wrestling matches (despite my hip injury/surgery). I will go to my grave saying that if you can’t wrestle, you can’t fight. In the end though, two wrestlers walked away from the tournament with the UFC contracts and that is how it is supposed to work. The whole six weeks was great, it re-energized me, rejuvenated me and it was one of those experiences in life that if you get to take part in… you are a lucky guy. I don’t really have anything negative to say about it. It was great to meet all the fighters, to interact with the next generation and to build friendships with some of those coaches that I didn’t know as well prior to going on the show.
2. What was the worst part of being on the coaching staff for season 19 of The Ultimate Fighter?
Mark Coleman – As a coach and a competitor, we as a team got our asses kicked as Team Edgar sweep the competition. To further answer your question though, 99% of the show was good and 1% was not so good. We were there to win the competition and obviously we didn’t accomplish that but you have to give credit to the red team, they stepped it up and in the end I think the right two fighters won (take nothing away from my guys though, they all busted their asses out there). Hopefully my blue team guys are out there training their butts off because a lot of you have the skills to make it in the UFC, you just need some fine tuning. I wish all of this season’s fighters the best and I look forward to seeing them on the TV in the future.
3. Going back to the semi-final fights in the TUF house; after all was said and done and none of the Team Penn fighters had advanced to finals, what was the reaction of the coaching staff?
Mark Coleman – Anything can happen and on day one you think about it for a second as a possibility but hope that isn’t going to be the outcome. When it did happen though, it was like taking a punch in the face and losing each one of those fights yourself because yes I loved these guys and there were a lot of close fights this season (maybe not action-packed but close fights). Fights that could have gone either way but I am not complaining about any of the decisions now because that is what happens when you let the judges decide the winner. I made a lot of friends on the show, especially with my blue team guys and we came so close but yet we were so far. Now it is time for these guys to take what they learned from this experience and take it back to their own gym and build on it. The biggest thing they need to take back with them is that it is up to them how far they will go in this sport.
4. What was your reaction to the finals fights featuring Dhiego Lima versus Eddie Gordon and Matt Van Buren versus Corey Anderson?
Mark Coleman – Well, Eddie Gordon is a confident fella. He is just not confident though as he is also super athletic, he has a strong wrestling background and he played college football. He was a huge middleweight who liked to talk a lot of trash but he backed it up so there is nothing wrong with that. I am happy for him and it looks like he definitely saved his best for the finals and that is what you have to do to come out and get your name recognized in the sport today with so many fighters out there. It looks like he has a pretty bright future ahead of him and training with the UFC Middleweight Champion Chris Weidman can only help him going forward. It is a long way to the top but being The Ultimate Fighter champion is definitely a good start. I wish him the best and Corey Anderson, the same. He was by far one of the nicest, respectful guys in the whole house and there were a lot of them. A guy who is just beginning his MMA career but I could see the athletic ability and drive in him from day one. A good wrestler who knew he needed to work on his hands and with his athletic ability he was able to make major improvements by the end of the show. Then he continued that improvement in his training following the show and I think he is going to be a threat to a lot of fighters out there in the UFC. His mind is right, his skill and athletic ability seem to be intact and with that combination he will be able to take it as far he wants to. Once again though, he is in a loaded weight class, so he has a tough hill to climb and I wish him the best. The guys that lost… Lima, I think he has a chance to regroup and come back and be successful in the UFC. He took a hard punch to the temple in that fight against Gordon and just couldn’t recover but I think we will be seeing him again soon. As far as Van Buren goes, we’ll just have to wait and see what happens with him. I know he put his life into this sport but he needs to regroup and figure out how to be more consistent and fight the way he did in the semi-finals match against Daniel Spohn.
5. If you had to pick one fighter from the blue team that you could see being a mainstay in the UFC, not necessarily a champion, somewhere down the line; who would it be?
Mark Coleman – That is a very tough question for me to predict because it really depends on what the guys do from now on to continue to improve themselves. They had to leave a perfect situation. Six weeks of training with all of the food and coaching they needed and now they are back home. As Dana White put it “You are going back home to the people that loved you before you left”. Now they have to go back to work, not only at their own gyms but most probably have jobs they have returned to and all that other daily stuff that is life (wives, kids, bills, etc.). So it is going to come down to who can handle all of that going forward. All of them have a chance but it is going to take some intense focus to maintain the same training acumen they had in the house so that they don’t fall behind their fellow fighters. That is why Eddie Gordon and Corey Anderson just made their lives a little bit easier because now they are probably going to be able to just train full-time and concentrate on fighting.
6. Due to time constraints and the editing done by the producers of the TUF show; was there anything of substance (good, bad or ugly) that was left off of the show that aired on FOX Sports 1?
Mark Coleman – There was quite a bit actually and I was surprised because before the first episode aired on TV I had heard all kinds of stories from the production team about what was going to be shown and in the end it wasn’t quite there. Which is fine by me, they portrayed me as an intense coach (which I was) but following the practices I was just one of the boys. There was some funny stuff that I thought they were going to show but they didn’t and it doesn’t really matter. Although, I was looking forward to seeing how I handled the situation (how it was portrayed on TV) after the guys drank four bottles of Southern Comfort, Jack Daniels or whoever sponsors the UFC and every Bud Light in the house. I got a call the next morning from Dana White at 10:00 am telling me that he needed me to take care of something. I guess he figured I had experience in this type of matter. The fellas got drunk in the house and as Dana put it “did a lot of this and that” and he sent me in there to tell them that if that shit happens again they can beat it. At first I was confused at what they did wrong because if you are going to allow booze in the house, doesn’t that mean the guys are allowed to drink it? In past seasons of TUF a lot of the heavy drinking trouble makers made their way into the UFC and some where quite successful. So at first I was confused but then I Dana gave me some more information and it is no problem if you get drunk but what you do afterwards that can have bad consequences. I am not going to give any explosive fucking details but Dana said “They fucked with my fucking people and you don’t fuck with my fucking people”. So bottom line, some of the guys fucked with the wrong people, that was all I needed to hear and so I put the guys in line (which felt great to be on the other end of that talk). I gave it to them Hammerstyle and so I was looking forward to seeing that on the show. The Boss was not happy with them and I enlightened them as to what that meant for their respective futures in the UFC. The practice that next morning was something those guys won’t forget for some time. Sometimes you have to pay to play and that is what I made them do.
8. Your longtime friend and the coach of your team, BJ Penn fought Frankie Edgar for a third time at the TUF Finale. What did you think of the fight and Penn’s subsequent retirement from MMA?
Mark Coleman – That was a tough fight to watch, I have got nothing but respect for BJ. He went out there and gave it his best shot, tried some new stuff and well you just have to give credit to Frankie Edgar because it is not like BJ lost to some nobody. He lost to Edgar, who I think will be a UFC champion again very soon. Both guys are all class and BJ just lost to one of the best fighters out there right now. There is no shame in that, no shame in BJ Penn at all. He will go down as one of the greatest fighters of all-time but the clock just runs out eventually for every professional athlete. I am glad to see that he excepts it and that he is going to move forward with his life. I am sure that he has plenty of options and that he will move onto the next stage. He has already talked about going back into BJJ because you never lose that desire to compete. He had one hell of a run in the cage and I still think there is most of that roster at featherweight that he could beat. He was ranked #4 going into that fight and lost to the #3 ranked fighter, that is not too shabby, but he has been in there a long time and fought so many wars. It was just a pleasure to watch his career and be a part of it. Keep in mind he is only 35 years old…
Thanks for all the questions this season, it was a great experience! I have got to thank BJ Penn, a great friend, for trusting me to be one his coaches and everybody who was involved in the TUF 19 show starting at the top with Fertitta Brothers and Dana White down to the show producers and then down to the fighters. Everyone treated me with respect and I think I did the same (besides a referee or two) and PunchDrunkGamer for this badass Q&A piece. And a quick shout out to Cage Fighter and CF Wrestling (be on the lookout for my new wrestling shoe this fall). I wish all the fighters the best going forward. Don’t ever run out of coconut oil. – The Hammer!
Post your comments directly below! You can also discuss the latest MMA and Video Game News in the PunchDrunkGamer Forums and don’t forget to Follow PDG on Twitter @PunchDrunkGamer and Like the PDG Official Facebook Page!