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Coleman ready for legendary showdown

Story by Brady Crytzer
Photo by Chris Cozzone

Legends collide on Saturdary when former UFC heavyweight and PrideFC Grand Prix champion Mark “The Hammer” Coleman shows down with fellow hall-of-famer Randy “The Natural” Couture.

Although this fight had the potential to be defining for the sport of mixed martial arts had it taken place ten years ago, the significance is not lost to Coleman and he still hopes that this light heavyweight showdown will be a benchmark in his long career.

“It’s the number one question for the last 10 years,” Coleman said. “People asking me, ‘When you going to fight Randy?’ This is at the top by far the biggest fight in my life. I’ve been in some big fights but none compare to this. Personally there is a lot on the line for me. Winning is very important but I was to put on a good show for the fans. That’s critical. I want to win, but, most importantly, I want it to be a good competitive fight.”

Although the last time he held a title was nearly a decade ago, Coleman has been the picture of perseverance battling his way back to the top of the sport against fighters half his age. Now at the age of 45, Coleman is well aware of what he has left in his tank, and he’s not afraid to use it all to achieve victory.

“If I had listened to the critics, I would have retired 10 years ago,” Coleman said. “This won’t be my last fight and I don’t think it will be Randy’s. This is what I love to do. There’s no reason for me to retire. I can still compete with all these guys out here. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned to train smarter and take care of myself.”

Although Randy Couture and Mark Coleman mark a battle of the two oldest fighters ever to main event a UFC card, Coleman has considered a fight with “The Natural” for years. From their collegiate wrestling days in the 1980’s, “The Hammer” has an old favor to return to his old friend.

“We were banging pretty hard,” Coleman recalled. “He brought it to me. At the time I was giving it back. I remember he was very strong and, kind of like he fights, he was in my face the whole time. He gave me an accidental head butt during the match and I had to get two stitches.

“So maybe I owe him a head butt.”

Coleman’s return to the limelight of the Octagon is not without its share of criticism. After losing in his return bout against “Shogun” Rua in 2009, many questioned whether the aging former champion had anything left. Some even questioned whether he should be allowed to perform on the grandest stage of the sport.

“Well it’s just kind of what I deserve. I deserve to be the underdog because of my performances in the past. For the Bonner fight I was able to get away from Ohio and put a nice training camp together. If I put a good camp together and come in good shape, I pose a threat to anybody out there.”

The grueling training regimen of mixed martial arts makes it a cruel mistress. If one chooses not to train at full capacity, the prospects of victory are bleak. If one pushes himself beyond his limits, injury awaits. The aging joints of Coleman felt the pressure of a scheduled showdown with Tito Ortiz last fall, and “The Hammer” was forced to bow out.

“I’m very grateful,” Coleman announced. “I was devastated when I pulled out against Tito (before UFC 106). I felt like I missed out on a huge opportunity. I didn’t anticipate being able to top that match up. I do feel lucky to face Randy Couture because he is, in my opinion, one of the greatest of all time in this sport.”

Mark Coleman prepares to main event a UFC pay per view at the age of 45. Though he does have a long history with his opponent, it’s not 1985 anymore. Coleman is ready for anything that comes his way.

“I’m aware that Randy can change his styles and the way he fights. I’m not known for a great gameplan. I mean, I have a gameplan, but I stick to a certain style. It’s all about reacting to what your opponent does that night.”

 


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