Mark Coleman is a retired MMA vet, professional wrestler, and amateur wrestler. As we remember, Coleman was the UFC 10 and UFC 11 tournament champion, the first UFC Heavyweight Champion, and the Pride Fighting Championships 2000 Open Weight Grand Prix champion.
Coleman talked to UFC odds site Betway to discuss the changing landscape of combat sports. Coleman discusses Dana White, UFC fighter pay, and the explosion of celebrity boxing.
Mark Coleman’s career started before the unified rules of MMA were introduced back in 2000. Mark is known as the ‘Godfather of Ground-and-Pound’ and he helped popularize the use of wrestling in MMA.
Mark tells Betway: “Everybody has realized the importance of knowing how to wrestle,” he says. “I know a lot of people got sick of seeing so much wrestling, but back then I said just give it some time because as soon as everybody realizes they have to learn how to wrestle, the score will change. And it really has, because everybody can stop a takedown now. Ground-and-pound is not loved by the fans, I understand that” he admits. “But the only way to stop it happening is if you know how to stop the takedown, and that’s what everybody’s learned how to do. All aspects of the game are very, very important, but if you can’t wrestle, the fight is going to be on the ground.”
As we know, takedowns and grappling are still essential aspects of the sport, and fighters who specialize on the ground still find success.
In the MMA community, there is a long-running discussion about fighter pay. The UFC is always expanding, and its current valuation standing is at around $7Billion and just recently they signed a $175 million deal with Crypto.com and none of the fighters will see a cut. A lot of people believe the fighters are not being paid enough not just with the UFC but with many other MMA organizations.
Coleman states this about Dana paying the fighters: “I respect Dana a lot,” he says. “He’s called me as dumbass plenty of times, but who hasn’t he called a dumbass? So, I don’t take it too personally. I think he’s done one hell of a job, and we’ve got to give him a lot of credit for where the sport is at today. Of course, everybody wants to be paid more. I think they’re probably going to have to pay more eventually, but right now everybody’s getting paid pretty damn good, I tell you that. Compared to what we got back when I was fighting. They’re getting paid pretty good.”
Fighters are starting to look elsewhere to get paid. Several UFC fighters have crossed over to boxing, including bare-knuckle. Let’s talk about “Celebrity Boxing.” Logan Paul’s fight against Floyd Mayweather drew around 1 million PPV buys. His brother Jake Paul’s numbers were also impressive after his fight against former UFC fighter Ben Askren.
Many people don’t like this circus boxing but Coleman sees it differently. He states: “The big thing now is obviously celebrity boxing, and I think it’s great. It’s great for boxing. it’s great for MMA fighters. Anybody doesn’t see it that way, well, that’s their choice, but I think the more opportunities the better. I’m a curious person. We’re all curious people. Jake and Logan Paul, actually come from Ohio, my home state. They both wrestled and wrestlers stick together for life. They worked hard to get to where they’re at with all the followers. And that’s where we’re at nowadays, it’s all about how many followers you got. That’s how you judge what a guy’s worth, and I think they’re worth every penny of it because people are tuning in. Even if they want to see them get their heads knocked off, well, they’re still tuning in to see that. I respect the fact that they’re trying to be the best boxers they can be, and I wouldn’t be too surprised if we see both those guys switching into MMA because I know they both have a wrestling background.”
(Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)
Roberto Villa is the CEO, Founder, Executive Writer, Senior Editor of FightBook MMA. Has a passion for Combat Sports and also a podcast host for Sitting Ringside. He’s also a former MMA fighter and Kickboxer.
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