Mark Coleman if nothing else helped supply mixed martial arts with one of its cornerstone techniques: ground-and-pound.
The man affectionately known as “The Hammer” set his sights on MMA after he represented the United States in freestyle wrestling at the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona, Spain, where he placed seventh in the 100-kilogram draw. Coleman made his professional debut under the Ultimate Fighting Championship banner on July 12, 1996, rattled off six consecutive victories across three events and became the first fighter to capture the undisputed UFC heavyweight crown. He later plied his trade in Pride Fighting Championships with wide-ranging results—depressing lows were mixed with euphoric highs—before he returned to the Octagon to close out his career where it began. Coleman was enshrined in the pioneer wing of the UFC Hall of Fame in 2008.
As time continues to widen the distance between Coleman and his exploits, here are some of the numbers that came to define him:
55: Years of age. Coleman was born on Dec. 20, 1964 in Fremont, Ohio.
1: NCAA championship in his trophy case. Coleman was the last man standing at 190 pounds as a member of the 1988 Ohio State University wrestling team.
2: Ultimate Fighting Championship tournament titles on his mantle. Coleman won eight-man openweight draws at UFC 10 and UFC 11. Only Royce Gracie won more (three).
170: Days spent as UFC heavyweight champion. Coleman laid claim to the title with his neck crank submission of Dan Severn at UFC 12 on Feb. 7, 1997, then relinquished it in a unanimous decision loss to Maurice Smith at UFC 14 a little less than six months later.
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4: Sub-minute victories to his credit. Coleman throttled Julian Sanchez in 45 seconds at UFC 11, prompted a two-second corner stoppage against an injured Kazuyuki Fujita at the Pride Grand Prix 2000 Finals, submitted Milco Voorn with an arm-triangle choke in 56 seconds under the Bushido Europe flag and was credited with a 49-second technical knockout against Mauricio Rua when the Brazilian suffered a horrific arm injury at Pride 31.
5: Losses by submission, accounting for half of Coleman’s career total. Randy Couture, Fedor Emelianenko (twice), Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira and Nobuhiko Takada were the perpetrators.
181: Total strikes landed in a unanimous decision over Don Frye at Pride 26 in June 2003. It proved to be a high-water mark for Coleman.
7: Takedowns completed in a third-round TKO loss to Rua at UFC 93 on Jan. 17, 2009. It was a career-high for Coleman, who was successful on seven of his nine attempts. He did not land more than three takedowns in any of his other bouts.
202: Combined wins between the nine men—Rua, Couture, Emelianenko, Nogueira, Takada, Smith, Mirko Filipovic, Pedro Rizzo and Pete Williams—who defeated Coleman during his 26-fight career.
3: Promotions in which Coleman competed as a professional mixed martial artist. He went 9-5 in Pride, 6-5 in the UFC and 1-0 in Bushido Europe.
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