The Top Turtle MMA Podcast on FloCombat recently had the opportunity to chat with MMA legend Mark Coleman. Here's what they discussed.
On the 2000 Pride Open Weight Grand Prix
When asked where the Pride Grand Prix fits in his career accolades, Mark Coleman doesn’t quite know the words to use. Instead, he relies on his reaction at the time to portray him emotions.
“If you’ve ever seen the celebration after Igor [Vovchanchyn] taps, if you’ve never seen it, check it out, that tells how I felt,” Coleman recalls. “It was just unexplainable.”
Some of that emotion comes from the fact that he felt underestimated and underappreciated going into the tournament.
“I was counted out for the dead, I had no chance of winning that tournament,” he said. “Pride did not want me winning that tournament.”
While he insists that the heads of the company would prefer Royce Gracie, Mark Kerr or Sakuraba to take home the victory, Coleman never had a doubt in his mind that it would be him.
"I knew I was going to win that tournament,” Coleman said.
On his return to the UFC
After spending years in Japan in Pride (although one of those bouts was in the U.S.), Coleman was ready to return to the place where he got his start. When the UFC bought out Pride’s assets, Coleman saw his opening, but the UFC was not as immediately as perceptive as he hoped.
“They decided to put me in the Hall of Fame when they came to Columbus, Ohio,” Coleman said. “As great as that is, I want to fight.”
Eventually they buckled to his pressure but were not all that willing to work with him on what a return would look like.
“They finally offered me one right before the induction,” he said. “They offered me a contract and said it was non-negotiable—take it or leave it.”
On being offered Brock Lesnar
Upon being resigned to the UFC, Mark Coleman was working on changing his weight class. However, that didn’t stop the UFC from planning a bout with one of the biggest dudes—literally—in the promotion.
“They offered me Brock Lesnar,” Coleman said. “I was like, 'Damn, I was already heading down to 205 pounds.'"
And the difference in size was something that Coleman was acutely aware of.
“I was weighing about 225 pounds at the most. Brock Lesnar, let’s face it, man, he’s a 275-pound monster,” he admitted. “Hey, size matters—I said that from the beginning. Royce Gracie said size doesn’t matter. I said it does.”
While an injury occurred before the bout was even announced, it didn’t stop Coleman from offering to go ahead with the fight anyway.
“I said, ‘Hell yeah, I’ll fight him.' Maybe it was a blessing by the Lord—I tore my MCL,” Coleman said. “I said, 'Listen, if you guys are going to cut me, I’ll fight him with my knee the way it is.'"