Decorated former champion Mark Coleman today announced his retirement from mixed martial arts, revealing that he will soon undergo hip replacement surgery.
“Total hip replacement next Monday,” Coleman wrote on his Facebook page. “‘The Hammer’ is done fighting. I know, [I’ve] been done. Just looking for some [prayers]. I thank everyone who will help me get through this. [You] have to pay to play sometimes. [My] only regret is [I] could have worked harder. Love you all. Live your dream.”
Coleman, 48, is widely credited with popularizing the term “ground-and-pound” in MMA thanks to his strong wrestling base and powerful strikes from top position. The heavyweight’s dominance in the Ultimate Fighting Championship proved to be a sign of things to come, as many wrestlers have since found success built upon the foundation laid by the Hammer House fighter.
A former NCAA Division I wrestling champion at Ohio State University, Coleman represented the United States in the 1992 Summer Olympics before making his MMA debut in 1996. The UFC Hall of Famer began his fighting career with back-to-back tournament victories at UFC 10 and 11 and submitted the highly regarded Dan Severn the following year to become the first UFC heavyweight champion.
After four straight losses, Coleman found new life in Japan’s Pride Fighting Championships, where he bested Masaaki Satake, Akira Shoji, Kazuyuki Fujita and Igor Vovchanchyn to claim the open-weight grand prix title in 2000.
Coleman competed 11 times over the next decade, posting five wins against six defeats while taking on the likes of Fedor Emelianenko, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira and Mirko Filipovic. The veteran was inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame in 2008 and returned to the Octagon the following year as a light heavyweight at UFC 93, falling via technical knockout to former Pride rival Mauricio Rua. Coleman last competed in 2010 at UFC 109, submitting to a rear-naked choke courtesy of fellow Hall of Famer Randy Couture.