Mark Coleman is among the most famous wrestling champions, who moulded a flourishing career in sports ahead of stepping his foot in UFC by winning a World Championship silver medal, an NCAA championship, and qualify for the Olympics of 1992.
Mark Coleman is known as the ‘Godfather of Ground-and-Pound’, who is often credited for bringing wrestling into MMA. Some people argue that former UFC fighter Mark Coleman was superior to any other UFC Hall of Famer since his career commenced before the MMA unified rules were launched in 2000.
Still, inside mixed martial arts, he knows the adverse implications that encompass the discipline.
“Everybody has realised the importance of knowing how to wrestle,” Mark said to Betway.
“I know a lot of people got sick of seeing so much wrestling, but back then I said just give it some time, because as soon as everybody realises they have to learn how to wrestle, the score will change.,” he adds.
Coleman also sees one immense transformation in wrestling since his adolescence.
“Ground-and-pound is not loved by the fans, I understand that, but the only way to stop it happening is if you know how to stop the takedown, and that’s what everybody’s learned how to do,” he admits.
“All aspects of the game are very, very important, but if you can’t wrestle, the fight is going to be on the ground,” he further adds
However, takedowns and grappling are a vital character of the sport, and the ones who have expertise on the ground even see the success, though today, the mass of fights are falling out on the feet.
“The stand-up is really what’s coming on. The stand-up has come so far and is really taking over, and it’s very exciting,” says Coleman.
He further adds, “It is incredible to see how advanced the stand-up game is now. These guys are really, really amazing on their feet.”
Apart from the transformations that happen inside the coop over the last few years, the exponential germination of MMA has started to transform behind the scenes.
“It’s full-time now,” explains Coleman. “They get paid enough money that all they have to do is train, and they’ve got three or four coaches.
“I really didn’t have any coaches. I was my own coach, pretty much. I had my teammates at the Hammer House. We were badass and we trained ourselves.
“It would have been nice to do it over and have a jiu-jitsu coach, a boxing coach, a conditioning coach. It’d be pretty nice.”
The growing expertise and professionalism of fighters of MMA, especially within the organisations like the UFC, has given rise to never-ending debates on fighter pay.
Along with the UFC steadily increasing popularity and its recent valuation at about $7bn, many think that the fighters are not being paid sufficiently, so much of the analysis has been aimed at President Dana White. Coleman doesn’t pretty much agree though.
In an interview with Betway, Coleman spoke of his respect for his former boss Dana White despite having had problems with him in the past.
“I respect Dana a lot,” he says. “He’s called me a dumbass plenty of times, but who hasn’t he called a dumbass? So, I don’t take it too personally. I think he’s done one hell of a job, and we’ve got to give him a lot of credit for where the sport is today.
“Of course, everybody wants to be paid more. I think they’re probably going to have to pay more eventually, but right now everybody’s getting paid pretty damn good, I tell you that.
“Compared to what we got back when I was fighting. They’re getting paid pretty well.”
The continuing wage fight in the UFC is also going the other way, with fighters viewing some other area for money.
In the past few years, several UFC fighters have switched to boxing, comprise bare knuckles, or have left for other MMA promotions like PFL, Bellator, and ONE Championship.
“I love the opportunities fighters are getting,” says Coleman. “I am a big fan of bare-knuckle boxing. I love it and I think it will continue to climb.”
However, the bigger story in combat sports at present is celebrity boxing.
YouTuber Logan Paul’s fight against Floyd Mayweather bought nearly 1m PPV, while Jake Paul’s fight against previous UFC fighter Ben Askren saw a related number of appearances.
Several in the MMA and fighting communities are concerned about these crossover celebrity functions, but Coleman views it differently.
“The big thing now is obviously celebrity boxing, and I think it’s great. It’s great for boxing. It’s great for the MMA fighters.
“Anybody doesn’t see it that way, well, that’s their choice, but I think the more opportunities the better.
“I’m a curious person. We’re all curious people. Jake and Logan Paul, they actually come from Ohio, my home state. They both wrestle and wrestlers stick together for life.
“They worked hard to get to where they’re at with all the followers. And that’s where we’re at nowadays, it’s all about how many followers you got. That’s how you judge what a guy’s worth, and I think they’re worth every penny of it because people are tuning in. Even if they want to see them get their heads knocked off, well, they’re still tuning in to see that.
“I respect the fact that they’re trying to be the best boxers they can be, and I wouldn’t be too surprised if we see both those guys switching into MMA because I know they both have a wrestling background.”
Notwithstanding retiring 11 years before, Coleman’s abiding love for MMA is evident, and his experience of the developing view of combat sports is exciting.
Don’t be so shocked if we notice Logan or Jake Paul wearing some 4oz gloves and traveling out to the Octagon in the coming future.