When UFC Hall of Famer Mark Coleman stormed onto the mixed martial arts scene in 1996 following a storied college wrestling career and top 10 placing in the 1992 Summer Olympics, he brought with him an economic, workman style of fighting that would lead him to championship glory on his first night out. The event was the aptly-named UFC 10: The Tournament, and after beating the rights to the nickname “The Hammer” out of Moti Horenstein in his very first fight (an agreement that Moti never honored), Coleman would take out veteran Gary Goodridge and UFC 8 tournament winner Don Frye in back-to-back fights to claim the tournament championship. Coleman would repeat this feat in even more dominant fashion at UFC 11 and would unify the Heavyweight and Superfight Championships at UFC 12 the following year by choking out fellow scary wrestler Dan Severn. With the victory, Coleman’s legacy as one of the sport’s pioneers was all but written in the history books.
But Coleman didn’t stop there. Over the next 14 years, Coleman would not only popularize but would be dubbed “The Godfather” of the wrestling-based, “ground-n-pound” attack that would lead him to a PRIDE openweight championship in 2000 and a list of victories over the likes of Mauricio Rua, Stephan Bonnar, and Igor Vovchanchyn to name a few. But as all good things must come to an end, so must the legendary career of the now 48 year-old Coleman. Although he hasn’t fought since his 2010 submission loss to Randy Couture — a bout that would mark the first Hall of Famer vs. Hall of Famer fight in UFC history — Coleman has decided to officially announce his retirement from the sport as of yesterday. “The Hammer,” who is scheduled to undergo hip surgery next week (because that’s what old people do, amiright? *self-fives*), posted the following on his Facebook:
Total Hip replacement next Monday. Ouch.
The hammer is done fighting. I know been done. Just looking for some prayers.
i thank everyone who will help me get through this. Have to pay to play sometimes. Only regret is could have worked harder.
Love you all live your dream.
After the jump: A look back at some of Coleman’s greatest moments, as well as one of his worst.
Coleman vs. Vovchanchyn (Pride FC 2000 Openweight Grand Prix Finals)
(some of) Coleman vs. Frye (UFC 10: The Tournament Finals)
Coleman vs. Rua 1 (Because PRIDE)
Coleman vs. Wanderlei Silva