by Mick Hammond – MMAWeekly.com
It’s been a great few months for Mark “The Hammer” Coleman. He’s gotten back on the winning track, his team is doing well, and his personal life is in order. For the first time in a long time it could be safe to say that he’s truly enjoying life and because of that his drive to continue to do well and become a champion again burns just as strong as it ever has.
Recently Coleman contacted MMA Weekly while in Japan where he’s currently touring with Hustle, the pro wrestling organization owned by the same company Pride is, Dream Stage Entertainment. Coleman, just hours before the big Hustlemania show, took the time to discuss his new attitude, his recent win, and his thoughts on James Thompson’s challenge.
MMA Weekly: First off Mark, I know you heard that James Thompson challenged you in a recent interview with us. Tell us your thoughts on his comments please.
Mark Coleman: I’m not going to sit here and pick my opponents, but if that’s the fans want to see then that’s fine with me. It doesn’t matter who I fight. I’ve been around a long time and I prefer to fight to fight a top-notch guy. My training has been going really well and I feel better than I have ever been in my entire life. I’m looking for a shot at the belt again, you know I’m not finished fighting and I continue to improve my skills. I’m focused again and I still feel like I can be the champion, I want a shot at the belt but if I have to go through him first then that’s fine by me. He’s won three fights in a row and has put himself in a position to fight me so I’ll certainly take on that challenge.
MMA Weekly: Rumors recently have that fight happening either at Cage Rage in England or Pride, is there any truth to those rumors?
Mark Coleman: It’s news to me about Cage Rage. I highly doubt that Pride would let me fight in Cage Rage. If that’s going to happen they better let me know soon. If that’s what they want of if they have plans on that taking place I better be getting a phone call today or tomorrow. I’m training all the time as if I’m fighting. I’m not waiting for them to announce that I have a fight coming up to train but I do want a little bit of notice before I fight. I would like that to take place either in Japan or America, you know I’m really looking forward to fighting in America some day.
MMA Weekly: I know the fans on the internet have been making a good buzz about this fight, do you think that may influence Pride to make it happen?
Mark Coleman: I don’t think Pride worries too much about the internet. I guess they have a way of finding out what fans want to see over there because they always have great match-ups for the Japanese people and put on a great show. If that’s what the fans want to see, it’d be a challenge but it’s one I think I could win. Hopefully it will happen on New Year’s Eve.
MMA Weekly: As you mentioned James is on a roll right now, but if that fight doesn’t happen, are there any other fighters in Pride you’d like to fight on Shockwave 2005?
Mark Coleman: It doesn’t matter to me, like I said I don’t pick and choose my opponents. Whoever Pride wants me to fight I’ve always fought. Look at my last four opponents, I haven’t turned down anybody yet. I prefer a challenge, I want a challenge, everybody’s good now, there are no easy fights out there and I’m not looking for an easy fight. Whatever the fans want to see is fine with me. I feel like I’m back, my mind is very strong now, I’m 100% focused on becoming a champion again. To be a champion again I’m going to have to go through guys like (Sergei) Kharitonov, Mark Hunt, and I’d love to get a rematch with (Mirko) Cro Cop or fight (Antonio Rodrigo) Nogueira again. Fedor is the best in the world right now and I’d like to get another shot at him. I still have a few years left in me, I’m still healthy, the good thing about it is that I definitely haven’t reached my potential with my ground game and stand-up game, I keep improving and getting better.
MMA Weekly: Speaking of reaching your potential, you recently choked out Milco Voorn at Bushido Europe in your last fight. How did it feel to get that win?
Mark Coleman: I did both things I’d been wanting to do, I hit him with a good right hand to start the fight off and that was the plan. The takedown I’ve been doing my whole career, but the choke was new. I could have easily jumped to the other side and finished it easier but I didn’t have to. It felt good, I was hoping to give the crowd a little more action, you know Holland is kind of new to the MMA scene, so I was hoping to have some more action out there. I had to take a win, I needed a win, it’s been a while, and that win it definitely boosted my confidence and motivated me to continue to train incredibly hard. And that’s the bottom line, hard training is what will get you back to the top of this game. Fortunately my body is still healthy at my age, and now I just have to continue to be dedicated and work hard.
MMA Weekly: I know you seem to be in a much better place now with your life than you had in previous years.
Mark Coleman: You know I’m just really trying to stay positive in life in general. I haven’t always been a positive person, “don’t sweat the small stuff” is what I’m trying to live by and everything is small stuff. I’m trying not to waste any energy on unnecessary worries, that’s how I’ve been living lately, it’s really helping me out. Everything is going pretty good, and even though I said I’ve changed I’m kind of worried because everything is going so good right now and I’m waiting for it to crash. I am happy and the Hammer House is going well, and actually Dan Bobish and I have been talking and I think he’s going to join the team and we’re going to get together and I’m going to try to get him in shape. He’s got a lot of potential, he’s never been behind in a fight until he’s gotten tired, so I’m looking forward to working with him, pushing him, getting him in shape and get him some wins and get him back into the game.
MMA Weekly: You mention the Hammer House, I know things are going very well there with Kevin Randleman and Brandon Lee Hinkle picking up big wins also last month. How are things going otherwise the rest of the team?
Mark Coleman: Wes (Sims), Brandon, Kevin, and Phil (Baroni), they are all doing great right now. Wes is working real hard right now, he’s going to make a big strong comeback and I’m looking forward to it. He’s really been dedicated lately, he’s been laying low and nobody’s really heard from him lately, but when he comes back I look for him to make an impact. I’m proud of the way he’s been training, he had to make some changes and he’s done that. The whole team has made changes as well; we’re working hard and learning more. We were pretty stubborn for quite some time but we’re opening up our games and we’re a stronger unit now. You’ve got to have a team, it’s great to have a team to keep each other positive and keep each other’s heads up and that’s what we’ve been doing.
MMA Weekly: I understand that not only are you and the team doing well, but so is the next generation of the Coleman family.
Mark Coleman: My daughters are both doing great. My one daughter just took third at the Nationals in gymnastics, which to me is as big as any Hammer House win or big as any win as I’ve had. She fell off the balance beam on her last move or else she would have been a National Champion. I’m just as excited about her career as well as my own.
MMA Weekly: Thanks as always for taking the time to do this interview. Is there anything you’d like to say as we head out?
Mark Coleman: Everything else is going good. Pro wrestling is going great and I’m hoping everything continues this way. I hope to get a strap around my waist in pro wrestling, it would just be as exciting as it would to be in fighting as well. You know you create your own luck by doing hard work and doing the right things and that’s what I’m trying to do. Do the right things and everything will continue to go well for you, that’s how I feel right now. Japan’s really been great, they treat me well over here and my spirits are high and I want to keep rolling.