Mark Coleman has done it all in the cage and ring, and he's traveled the world. But he isn't treating his second trip around the UFC as a farewell tour. Stubborn as it gets, Coleman is finally mixing his off-the-charts natural talent with cutting edge training. The 45-year-old is pulling out all the stops to be his best when he steps into the Octagon at UFC 109 against fellow legend Randy Couture.
He's spent much of his time the last 9 months in Las Vegas, away from his daughters back in Columbus, Oh. Coleman is working out of the TapouT Training Center in Sin City. Josh Burns, an MMA prospect and exercise physiologist, is running his camp. Coleman is also working with Shawn Tompkins and his training partner is former UFC fighter and collegiate wrestler Branden Lee Hinkle.
It's nuts to hear, but Coleman, an NCAA freestyle wrestling champion in 1988 and a 1992 Olympian, did all that without being a big fan of coaching and structured training.
"I may bitch once in a while. Just out of habit. [But] it's really nice having somebody tell you what to do," Coleman told Cagewriter. "I pretty much trained myself how to wrestle. I was considered uncoachable and I was. But I did pretty well, so I thought it was the right thing, but I probably could've did better. Before, maybe I worked hard but there was no reason behind my hard work."
It took some convincing but Coleman (16-9) likes his new rigid schedule.
"I normally don't like that. I normally don't allow that," said Coleman as he described the new things he's mixed into his training camp. "Just all kinds of different workouts. Getting in the pool, aquatics training. Hard cardio training with [Burns] leading the way. It's been a good camp. I'm still learning."
Coleman said his regrets, about less than stellar training habits in the past, are minimal because the trade off was getting to spend lots of time around his two daughters, MacKenzie 12, and Morgan, 11.
"I'll never give back getting to see my two daughters grow up. They're old enough now to understand that I have to be away doing this. It's hard, I hear it in their voices."
Coleman said he was lucky last week when MacKenzie came to Las Vegas for a gymnastics tournament. He said Morgan is an athlete too with huge potential in softball.
His early days in MMA were also spent with the very unique Kevin Randleman and Phil Baroni. Coleman, by comparison is the sane one. Although, this footage (NSFW) after his first Fedor Emelianenko fight, doesn't back that up. Coleman is one intense dude. The Fedor loss is a great example of where Coleman's lack of training killed him at times. He scored two early takedowns and actually mounted Fedor in the first 30 seconds of the fight. He made one mistake and got armbarred less than two minutes later. Too often, Coleman fell victim to stamina issues during his other losses.
We'll see if those innate qualities that allowed Coleman fight at the highest level combined with new training techniques pays off in less than three weeks.