Mark Coleman – The Hammer’s Ultimate Fighter 19 Weekly Q&A Episodes 6 and 7
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 will be giving his answers to your questions weekly every Monday throughout the season!
Here are some of your questions and The Hammer’s answers from TUF 19 Episodes 6 and 7:
1. Over your long career you have worked with lots of coaches and other fighters but what was it like for you to work with Matt Hughes, John Hackleman, BJ Penn, André Pederneiras and the other coaches on the show?
Mark Coleman – There were so many good things about the whole experience. I have been friends with BJ Penn for a long time and prior to being on the show I had talked with Jason Parillo on the phone a few times over the years. So I knew him a little bit and John Hackleman, of course I knew who he was. We have passed by each other many times over the years and then Pederneiras, who I had not worked with either before the show but I definitely knew him and his reputation. Mike Dolce was also there. At first I wasn’t too sure if I was going to fit in with all theses guys but that wasn’t the case and we all gelled as a coaching staff from day one. We all brought different qualities to the coaching staff and we were able to make it work during the practices. Of course, Parillo was in high demand the whole time out there because everybody loves hitting the pads and Parillo can hold the pads like no one else. Pederneiras is a genius and BJ Penn is just a great guy to be around all of the time. He is a brilliant, funny guy that is a good time to be around and I rode with Hackleman to practice each day. So I got to know him pretty well and I will tell you this, he is one of the most knowledgeable characters in the fight game. It was a great time and I miss working with those guys. I think we should have a one-year reunion.
2. Could you give us a breakdown of the fight between Team Edgar’s first pick, Ian Stephens and Team Penn’s Roger Zapata from Episode 6?
Mark Coleman – I couldn’t wait to watch that fight again after watching it live initially. Sitting ringside it is almost impossible not to be biased towards your fighter and everybody knows that I am a wrestler but I have always stood by the statement that if you take somebody down, you have to inflict damage or there is no real advantage other than ring control. When Stephens was just holding Zapata down and not doing anything, Steve Mazzagatti should have stood them up and I usually don’t like to say negative things about officials. But since I am no longer fighting, I think Mazzagatti did an absolutely horrible job during that fight. He definitely had me, John Hackleman, BJ Penn, Jason Parillo, André Pederneiras (in Brazilian) and whoever else in there screaming at him to stand those guys up. After watching the fight again, I have no idea why he didn’t stand them up. Maybe Mazzagatti had an ego and he personally did like that we were calling whatever choice words we had to call him. Other than that and after watching it again, the only other thing I think of is that Zapata was scoring points from the bottom, so he didn’t stand them up. A lot of the time in those exchanges on the ground, Zapata was on his side throwing elbows. Give Zapata credit, he was not an easy guy to hold down and he was the only one who was throwing strikes. Stephens couldn’t punch him because it was taking everything he had to hold Zapata down. I have seen enough fights in my time though to know that the judges more than not give the fight to the guy on top. Being on top can give you a hell of an advantage if you make it one. In round one, I didn’t see it being any advantage for Stephens. I told Zapata I thought he won the first round but he didn’t according to the judges. The second round was more of the same as the first round except I thought that Zapata scored even more. I still don’t understand why Mazzagatti didn’t stand these fighters up. We were not at the National Wrestling Championships, we were at a fight and 14 minutes and 50 seconds of this “fight” was a wrestling match. Zapata did land some nice elbows though and he cut Stephens open. The third round was exactly the same as the first two rounds only that Zapata really started scoring with elbows. Then out of nowhere Mazzagatti calls the illegal elbow penalty on our guy and I definitely showed him my disgust with that call. I thought he cost us the fucking win with that stupid fucking call. It was the same elbow he had thrown all fight, no difference in angle. Mazzagatti deserves to be suspended for life for that performance. When I realized how they determined the winner, all I knew was somehow the judges got it right. I firmly believe he won and if they did get it wrong, it wasn’t even close to being the worst decision ever in the UFC. Zapata said wrestling was simple and he lost the wrestling match but won the fight. I think Stephens has a bright future (the potential is there) but as of this fight I saw a one dimensional fighter from 15 years ago and that isn’t going to work in today’s MMA.
3. What did you think about Dana White’s reaction to Steve Mazzagatti during and after that fight?
Mark Coleman – You can’t blame the fighters for that fight because the ref has control and Mazzagatti could have done a lot of things different to demand work from the fighters. The fans, Dana White and everyone else didn’t want to see a fight like that. A lot of people still think that Dana has control of the refs and the judges. Well I kind of wish he did have some power in that regard because he would be able to get guys in there that know what they are doing but his hands are tied. I think Dana’s reaction to the situation was perfect. He is one of the only guys in that role (President), that power position, that will get out there and say what is on his mind. He has been in some controversial situations for stuff he has said in the past but I think there are very few things that Dana White says he wishes he could take back. He says what he thinks and that was how he felt that night and I could see the passion and intensity in regards to what he said. If you thought that was a firestorm you should see…….
4. When you visited the TUF house to watch the UFC fights, how real was the tension between the two teams?
Mark Coleman – Yeah I went to the house a couple of times a week to try and loosen things up, you know maybe entertain the guys a little. The guys (both teams) up to this point had seemed to get along for the most part but if this fight and this decision for Zapata didn’t stir up some emotions and competitiveness from both teams then nothing was going too. I was fully expecting some feistiness when I got there but I was there to watch the UFC fights and congratulate Zapata. I expected some comments to be made and I got a kick out of it. I wanted to stay out of it, I don’t know why, but for the first time in my life I decided to stay out of this one and let these fellas handle it. At the same time I was wearing blue in the house that night and when the comments got personal I was kind of hoping some of the guys on my team would step it up (verbally of course). Don’t make a fool of themselves verbally but make a stand because some of what you heard and some of what you didn’t hear on the television was very personal. If it was me… I am not someone to charge across the room but I would definitely be calling someone a dick licker! In the end I think my guys held their ground though and to finish my answer to your question – The Tension was 100% Real! Will it be the last tension building issue this season? Watch the show and find out!
5. Can you give me one word to describe MMA judges?
Mark Coleman – INCONSISTANT and/or NEEDSMOREEXPERIENCE. But in the fight between Zapata and Stephens, they got it right.
6. Could you give us a breakdown of the fight between Team Edgar’s Patrick Walsh and Team Penn’s Anton Berzin from Episode 7?
Mark Coleman – Anton versus Walsh. At this point in the show, Anton was probably our most well-rounded fighter as far as skills go. Stand-up was excellent, jiu-jitsu was excellent, he had no wrestling in high school, no wrestling in Russia (he was there until he was two), no wrestling in college but he taught himself how to wrestle. I must say that I was pretty impressed, he was a damn good wrestler and you saw that in the first round of the fight. He took Walsh down a couple of times…. but at practice one day I asked him to show me a submission (armbar) move that he was working on and he looked at me like I was crazy. He said how did you win all of those belts (UFC and PRIDE) without knowing this move? I told him that I did know how to do it but I was just asking to him do it again. I grabbed my package and told him that I won those belts with fucking balls and then I grabbed my heart and told him that I also used this. That is how I did it… back to the fight. I didn’t like the match-up, we won the last fight and so we had the pick. Anton looked pretty brilliant some days in practice but I would have preferred he faced “Gutter” Matt Van Buren but Anton came running over and told the other coaches he wanted Pat Walsh (you heard his confidence leading into the fight). I was always talking to fighters from both teams, not strategically but more on a buddy system and Anton asked if I had been giving any secrets to Walsh about his fight game. There was nothing I could possibly say to Pat Walsh that would give him any advantage over Anton. So after everything it was Anton vs Pat Walsh. I definitely thought Anton could win the fight but I knew it wasn’t going to be a walk in the park. You don’t want one of your guys thinking anything negative going into a fight, so I told Anton he was ready and he was going to kick Walsh’s ass. I didn’t know much about Walsh other than he was big strong wrestler and that I saw him pick up his opponent in the elimination round like a toy and slam him into the mat. So I knew he had some balls and I didn’t know what Anton had outside of the first round because he had never been out of the first round. I was not surprised or shocked about how the first round went, I am sure Pat Walsh and his coaches were though. Anton was able to get the takedowns and win the first round. I wasn’t feeling really confident after the round though because I was thinking in the back of my head about his question to me about winning titles. Rounds two and three is how you win TUF shows and in the corner between rounds, I didn’t like the look on his face at all. I looked over at Pat Walsh and saw a wrestler getting ready for the second period. A little smirk on his face and I knew that Anton couldn’t keep up at this pace and when Walsh took him down in the second and third rounds, Anton’s sweep escape didn’t work. Did he go for it, yes, did it work, absolutely not. He said afterwards that it felt like Pat Walsh weighed five thousand pounds and to Walsh’s credit he did do a good job of ground ‘n pound when he was down there. It was a brilliant fight by Pat Walsh after the first round and I think Anton learned a lot of valuable information about fighting in that loss. At this point it is time for Team Penn to regroup.
Bonus Question: Mr. Coleman. I have been involved in several bar fights over the years. Do you think I could gain an advantage if I used Vaseline on my face like the fighters do before they get into the cage?
Mark Coleman – What kind of question is that? I am officially stymied here for a second or two. I guess there are a few ways you can approach this. If you are putting Vaseline on your face, well you must be planning on getting hit. That is not a good sign right there especially in a bar fight because they only last a couple of punches. Personally I wouldn’t go into a bar fight thinking I was going to get hit. If you are looking for attention, having Vaseline on your face is definitely going to do that, not sure though that the ladies are going to dig it that much. I am still just puzzled at this question… Are you going to wear the ointment into the bar? or are you just going to be applying it prior to the altercation? There isn’t going to be a Herb Dean there to ref the action, so I am concerned about the application of the ointment. It could be a definite hindrance to your success rate because if I saw someone applying an ointment to their face I would probably take advantage of that and finish things off before they got started. So you would have to be sneaky, like maybe make a trip to the bathroom to apply the ointment. All that being said, if you were able to apply the substance prior to the altercation I guess it would be an advantage because that is why PROFESSIONAL fighters wear it. It helps the punches slip off the face. It sounds like you are planning on getting hit and so I would encourage you to read again what I said about getting hit above. Maybe you could come up with an invention for the “Bar Fight Scene” where the Vaseline is applied to your face rapidly prior to an altercation and maybe you could make yourself some good money doing that. Good Luck!
Don’t miss this week’s all new episode, Wednesday on FOX Sports 1! – The Hammer
Send in your questions following this week’s episode. You can submit your questions for Mark by sending them to email@example.com or you can post them below and “The Hammer” will answer them each week following the next show on FOX Sports 1!