Contributor: Benjamin Kohn
(This is the second installment of Ben Kohn’s series on Mark Coleman in light of his recent surgery needs. You can read Part I here.)
After his destruction of the tournament field at UFC 10, Mark Coleman entered UFC 11 as one of the two early favorites. A fight between Coleman and David “Tank” Abbott was seen as the inevitable final and the tournament was definitely set up that way. The tournament however would take place and nobody was prepared for the bizarre things that would influence, and ultimately disappoint the wishes of the UFC and its fans.
The first fight of the night pitted the returning tournament champion Mark Coleman, now 250 pounds, against 23 year old Julian Sanchez. Sanchez was 6’3” and 300 pounds. He also wore a tank top to cover his unflattering frame. Just watching these men come down to the cage, you knew that this was not going to end well for the young Sanchez. After one jab where Coleman seemed to get poked in the eye in retaliation, he shot in and immediately got the takedown into side control. After landing some hard shots to the head, Coleman tries to use his immense brute strength to submit Sanchez by using a neck crank, one that seemed common among wrestlers in the early days of MMA. After readjusting, Coleman got the tap out at 44 seconds in the first round. Coleman’s celebration was to hug Sanchez, get his armed raised and immediately walk back to the locker room. A fantastic start for Mark but the night would get weird for him.
Coleman’s next opponent would be Brian Johnston. Now Brian was actually a relatively skilled fighter at the time. Standing 6’4” and weighing in at a ripped 235 pounds, he was coming off an absolutely brutal KO of Reza Nasri that had Big John McCarthy tackling Johnston to get him off of Nasri. Big John actually apologized to Nasri afterwards for not stopping it sooner. Johnston was billed as an amateur kickboxer and a blackbelt in Judo and seemed to be a legitimate challenge to Coleman. What followed proved otherwise.
The bout started off very slowly with both fighters circling too far away from each other to do anything. Johnston hit Coleman with two leg kicks and Mark definitely did not like that. On the third kick attempt, Coleman shot in and blasted a double leg into Johnston’s half guard. His shot was perfectly timed and ridiculously fast for a man his size. Johnston held on for dear life in half-guard while Coleman slowly dragged him to the fence. Once on the fence, Coleman began to headbutt Johnston repeatedly which forced Johnston to let go. Coleman immediately postured up in half-guard and threw vicious right hands. Johnston was getting badly hurt and turned to his stomach at which point Big John stepped in and mercifully stopped Johnston from having unwanted facial reconstruction. After winning the fight, Coleman was all fired up, pacing the cage like a furious animal. His raw emotion is what really draws me to him as a fighter. He clearly was a fighter at heart and showed it more every time he stepped into the cage.
On the other side of the bracket, everything started off quiet well. Tank walked through his first opponent, Sam Adkins, who was a former pro boxer whose boxing record I cannot find. His MMA record however was 7-20-1. Next up for Tank was supposed to be Jerry Bohlander who had to pull out. His replacement was Scott Ferrozo who went the full 15 minutes and 3 minute overtime with Tank. He beat Tank standing and in the clinch. He was however unable to continue after such a brutal match. Because of this, Mark Coleman was declared the winner by default. However using hindsight and intuition, seriously who actually believes Scott Ferrozo had anything for Mark Coleman. Mark dominated the field and in the next installment, I will talk about Mark establishing himself as the true top dog in the UFC HW division as he faces the man who many at the time considered the best HW in the world, Dan “The Beast” Severn. Until next time, enjoy the incredible career of Mark “The Hammer” Coleman.
-Ben can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org