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Making the Case for Lesnar vs. Coleman: Part I

So far the reviews of the revelation that Brock Lesnar and Mark Coleman will be fighting on August 7 in Minnesota have been mixed. A lot has been written about the matchup and I have to say I disagree with most of it.

Buckle up because this post is long. There are just too many bones to pick though.

The first issue I have is the assertion that UFC president Dana White is a hypocrite for promoting a match between Lesnar and Coleman. Look, I’m not afraid to hold White accountable when he says something that doesn’t add up, but I don’t agree that White has compromised himself in making this fight.

Steve Sievert of the Houston Chronicle doesn’t agree. Let me preface this by saying I have my issues with the MMA Media but that Steve is a guy that I highly respect. I enjoy his work, read it regularly, and often agree. However, his recent comments about White essentially contradicting himself is one statement that I do not agree with:

In discussing the announcement of the August fight between Coleman and Lesnar, UFC President Dana White said the 43-year-old Coleman asked for the fight, and that the matchup “made sense, so we did it.”

However, White later – probably without even realizing it – opened mouth and inserted foot concerning Coleman when addressing a question about Fedor Emelianenko.

“Let’s be honest, I don’t think Fedor is among the top five heavyweights in the world. His last ‘real’ fight was in 2005 … that was against Mirko Cro Cop. He hasn’t fought anyone since.”

One of the fighters Fedor has faced in that period is none other than newly minted UFC Hall of Famer Mark Coleman. So, on the same night, Coleman was both inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame and, effectively, labeled a stiff.

Let’s be fair here, Dana never branded Coleman a “stiff.” Whether he effectively did or not is up to interpretation. Granted, White did try to discredit him as part of his campaign to slander Fedor, but the fact remains that Fedor really hasn’t had a real fight since 2005. All Dana said is that Fedor beat a Mark Coleman that was past his prime — and that’s a stone cold fact. I have a ton of respect for Coleman but he’s not the fighter he once was and why should White be criticized for telling the truth?


  • mofsteel says:

    Definitely Lesnar Round 1 Gnp.

  • Derek B. says:

    The problem I have with everyone saying Fedor hasn’t fought a real opponent since 2005 is that I would like to see a top 5 heavyweight go and fight Choi and defeat him within the same time frame as fedor did. I really doubt any top 5 heavyweights would even be able to finish the guy in the fashion as fedor.

  • mike says:

    coleman is a great choice for someone whos trying to gain esperience in MMA. hes a TERRIBLE and feeble choice by someone who is supposed to be the top fighter in the world. fedors management is a joke. the fight w. randy is not going to happen for a while so tell them to turn fedor loose and let him do what hes supposed to be: a fighter. not someone whos blowing hot air up our asses by saying hongman choi is a suitable opponent. him and josh barnett have fought in japan too long and havent realized mma is a sport now and not some NJPW side-show.

  • mike says:

    just so u know, i am asian-american and have the utmost respect for other peoples culture. but i cant respect orgs where the judges, refs, etc essentially work for the promoter, who is obviously pulling for one fighter, esp if hes japanese in ethnicity. ive seen to many standups/stoppages in action, blatant “fixes” by judges (does anyone really believe gomi only lost to misaki and diaz in pride) not to mention the most fighters didnt even know who they fought till a week or two before the fight. hows it a fight w/o a full training camp etc? people who think dana is crooked should know the history and the practices of the japanese orgs. lets not even get involved w. the org crime ties. im sure they didnt attempt to make money by gambling and then fixing fights. (the sarcasm is free)

  • Big Butch says:

    Here is my problem with the Lesnar/Coleman fight…how does that help the HW division at all? If Lesnar wins (and the UFC better hope he does), what does this do for his reputation by beating someone who most people feel is beyond his prime? Also, what happens if Coleman scores the upset? Will the crossover crowd still want to buy PPV’s if Lesnar loses his first two fights in the UFC? With the amount of money reportedly being paid to Lesnar, Zuffa’s investment will not sustain the returns it got after Lesnar/Mir if Lesnar looks like he isn’t ready for MMA. And, if Coleman wins, will he be ready for a title run at his age?

  • Big Butch says:

    And another thing…Dana really needs to shut the hell up. At first, I too was on the “Fedor is a punk for not signing with the UFC” bandwagon. Of course, I am not an “insider” and I don’t know all of the details of why he wasn’t signed, but it appears as though all Fedor wanted was to be able to participate in his Sambo tournaments and fight on New Year’s Eve in Japan because he loves the pageantry and the people over there. Not only would signing Fedor get the UFC one of the top HW fighters in the world, but he would have opened up a huge market overseas (outside of what the UFC is doing in the UK). Not only does Zuffa miss out on the ridiculous number of PPV buys that would have come their way from Couture/Emelianenko, but it looks as though the fans of MMA might get that fight FOR FREE on HDNet in the fall or winter if Couture’s legal issues are over by then.

  • Sam Caplan says:

    It helps the heavyweight division because Lesnar has only had two pro matches and needs time to develop. The problem is, the UFC can afford to develop him only so slowly due to the amount of his guarantee. They’ve got to give him on the job training against opponents that are somewhat respectable yet aren’t overly dangerous. Those types of fighters are few and far between. Developing Lesnar into an upper-echelon heavyweight is how it helps the HW division.

    If Coleman wins, it leads to a second match. Mir was helped by beating Lesnar, and Coleman would get something out of a win as well. If Coleman beats Lesnar, that’s a big story. I doubt he’d be ready for a “title run,” but you could move him into a high-profile second match at the very least.

  • Maremagnum says:

    Dear Sam:

    You mention that UFC has to give Lesnar opponents that are “somewhat respectable yet aren’t overly dangerous”. The problem is that White’s comments about Coleman being a “has-been” undermine Coleman’s respectability. As Butch mentions, Lesnar has little to gain if he beats a wrestler that’s over-the-hill, according to White, and tons to lose if he is bested by him.

    I also agree whole-heartedly with Sievert in that White seems to think the general populace suffers from anterograde amnesia and now, while Fedor is a bum for having fought people like Coleman recently, Coleman is a reputable test for Lesnar. The contradictions are just too egregious.

  • Dave says:

    Is anyone else a big enough jerk (like me) to suspect that Coleman only got inducted into the HoF as a method of selling the Brock match?

  • cyphron says:

    I would like to see a top 5 heavyweight go and fight Choi and defeat him within the same time frame as fedor did

    I’m pretty sure Lesnar would destroy Choi in less than 20 seconds.

  • cyphron says:

    while Fedor is a bum for having fought people like Coleman recently, Coleman is a reputable test for Lesnar. The contradictions are just too egregious.

    I don’t see the contradiction in that at all. Fedor is supposedly the best heavyweight in the world whereas Lesnar is and up and coming 1-1 MMA fighter. So Coleman is a big test for Lesnar. Fedor shouldn’t even be fighting someone who’s over the hill.

  • ldcpanther says:

    Ok so Dana has criticized pro elite for putting Tank Abbot an over the hill fighter against Kimbo. How is putting Coleman against lesnar any different? Dana needs to STFU he is hurting the UFC with his ego and mouth.

  • Big Butch says:

    Hey Sam, wouldn’t it benefit the UFC a little more if Lesnar was booked to fight someone like Brandon Vera or maybe someone like a Jake O’Brien? I think it would be great test for for Lesnar to get in the cage against Vera, and if he were to lose that fight, he would lose to someone who is also young and trying to get into title contention. Another loss would hurt Lesnar either way, but losing to Vera would allow the UFC to save some face, while a win would help prove he is UFC-worthy and keep the crossover fans from pro wrestling coming back.

    And as far as Mark Coleman goes, what is the plan for him now? Is this supposed to be a one-and-done against Lesnar or is he coming back for more fights? If it is for 3 or 4 fights, wouldn’t a tune-up make sense for him too? Giving Coleman someone like Jake O’Brien would get him obviously a lesser opponent, but it would also give the UFC fans who don’t know or don’t remember Coleman a chance to see who he is and what he is all about in the cage.

  • mike says:

    Comparing Tank and coleman is ridicuous. im sure coleman has been relatively healthy, training/coaching and staying in decent shape. Tank im surprised even got medically cleard to fight by a commission. I really thought his knee was going to buckle just from punching. I have the utmost respect for tank and his BRASS BALLS but its 2008. His time is WAY PAST. MMA is/should be considered a sport now and should cease to be a sideshow attraction/circus. Far be it from me to allow a man to earn $, but any self-respecting org would not put Tank, Giant Silva, etc in on a card.

  • Jackyl says:

    I don’t think it’s if you lose…’s how you lose. I think Lesnar looked great in the Mir fight. Mir had no answer for the takedown and gnp. The match was over, Mir was turning away because he was done, Lesnar lands ONE punch to the back of the head and Mazagatti stands them up? Not to meantion taking a point away. That was the most horrible call I’ve ever seen. Mazzagatti has been on my shit list since then. Point being, if Mazz hadn’t stood them up when we did we would all be talking about how Lesnar destroyed Mir. He was still doing well before he made a rookie mistake and straitened his leg, allowing Mir to get the lock. Before that, Lesnar was owning him. So he lost but I think he looked pretty good in losing.

    The Coleman fight presents an interesting challenge. Anyone that says this isn’t a legitimate test for Lesnar is crazy. Coleman may not have enough in the tank for a top fighter like Fedor, but he defenitely has enough to put an up and coming fighter like Lesnar to the test. If Lesnar loses, but still puts on a good showing, I don’t think it diminishes his stock at all.

  • Derek B. says:

    what ever happened to Danial Puder? He use to be in the WWF and I haven’t heard anything about him in a while.

  • cyphron says:

    Coleman is a legit former champ in both Pride and UFC. Tank is just a big bad brawler. Lesnar is a legit athlete with credentials. Kimbo is a street thug.

    You guys are grasping at straws to pull the UFC down to EliteXC’s level.

  • hankd says:

    I don’t understand why Mark Hunt is ignored as a tough opponent…especially after seeing that fight…

  • mike says:

    i meant to say aurellio, not misaki. i still have UFC 82 (hendos last loss at MW was to misaki) on the brain.

  • Big Butch says:

    Hey Jackyl, I don’t think the crossover pro wrestling fans will continue tune in and buy PPV’s if Lesnar continues to lose. Yes, he dominated Mir and he definitely should have won…but, he didn’t. He has nothing to be ashamed of in that loss, and he earned the respect of the hardcore crowd with his performance. His name alone as part of the co-main even helped the UFC get one of their highest buyrates ever. However, this isn’t pro wrestling where a guy has a chance to redeem himself every Monday night before the next PPV. If he loses to Coleman, someone who a lot of the crossover fans know nothing about, they won’t continue to come back, and it will make the investment put into Lesnar less valuable. It really doesn’t matter how legitimate Coleman is, especially if Lesnar loses, in my opinion.

  • Marc says:

    By Jackyl’s standard above, I must be crazy, because Coleman is going to wind up in the hospital. It won’t be a fight; it will be slaughter. Do you really think that Coleman will have any better luck dealing with Lesnar’s freakish strength than Mir? And Coleman doesn’t have half the submission game that Mir does. This fight wil be over quick, and when it’s done, all that will be left of Coleman is a blood stain. There’s a reason there’s no old timer’s division in the UFC, and this fight will demonstrate that.

  • Jackyl says:

    Touche’ I do think Brock will win, and I have confidence that he will win. I like Brock and I think that he will be a title contender sooner rather than later. I just think that Coleman is a good test for him. I guess it will look bad if he loses no matter who he fights, and maybe his stock will drop a little. But I think the UFC saw Lesnar’s potential, and with a lot of their top guys not getting any younger, they made the investment. The crossover wrestling fans will go away, but Lesnar will earn the respect he is due.

  • Marc says:

    Jackyl – Fair enough.

  • Ryan says:

    What everyone forgets is the fact that many fighters who are relatively new to MMA (Lesnar) have to get experience somehow. Many of them already have been to smaller promotions and may have 5 or 6 amateur fights before gong into the UFC. In a way Lesnar brings the UFC back to its roots where it was discipline vs. discipline. That’s what makes him exciting to watch. If your only interested in watching pure MMA fights go to WEC. Even Elite XC has some crossovers (KIMBO) but thats what makes it interesting.

    Bottom line is Lesnar brings a following and the WWE fans that stay around will most likely get as addicted to MMA as they did to WWE. Dana White knows how to promote and if it wasn’t for him and the UFC there wouldn’t be an MMA world as we know it today. Unfortunately Lesnar is a stepping stone for fighters to get there name promoted build notoriety and rebuild confidence.


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