Coleman joins Penn’s coaching staff

UFC
Hall Of Famer Mark Coleman was shocked and
honored to get a call from BJ Penn asking him to be his wrestling
coach on the next season of
The Ultimate Fighter, and he’s excited to give
back to the next crop of fighters hoping to achieve their
dreams.

Mark Coleman is a legend of the UFC Octagon for a myriad of
accomplishments including being the first ever heavyweight
champion, and he was honored as a UFC Hall Of Fame inductee in
2008.

The man who is known as “The Godfather of Ground and Pound”
competed in the UFC on and off for more than 14 years before he
finally retired from competition in early 2013.

Now the former Ohio State wrestler and MMA legend will return
home to the UFC as part of BJ Penn’s coaching staff for the 19th
season of The Ultimate Fighter
when he goes up against Frankie Edgar in the next
incarnation of the show
.

“Me and BJ Penn have been friends since the beginning of this
thing, and I consider him a great friend. Hopefully he respects my
ability to coach some wrestling and hopefully help his team win
this Ultimate Fighter,” Coleman told FOX Sports on Friday. “That’s
the goal to win in the end. I guess he’s got confidence in me and
he offered me the position to be his wrestling coach on the show.
I’m extremely honored and excited to be on the show.

“Here we go, I’m going to have to put my hip to the test.”

Coleman’s last comment is in reference to the hip replacement
surgery he underwent in 2013 that brought his MMA career to a
close. It wasn’t until that surgery that Coleman actually declared
his retirement from the sport.

Now at 48 years of age, Coleman is excited to return to the UFC
in a new capacity as coach on The Ultimate Fighter alongside Penn.
The former All-American wrestler has been a teacher for his entire
career, including his time as the captain and creator of The Hammer
House — one of the first true super teams in all of mixed
martial arts.

With his own fight career behind him, Coleman wants to pass on
his encyclopedia’s worth of knowledge onto the next generation of
fighters and right now there’s no better way to do that than to
coach on the long-running UFC reality show.

“I’ve always wanted to be able to give back somehow, and one of
the few ways I can give back in general is to help kids like this
achieve their goals,” Coleman said. “I absolutely love being able
to help somebody and give back. Hopefully these kids remember me,
and if not I’ll remind them. We’re going to have a great time.”

Coleman admits that it wasn’t easy to give up fighting even when
he did. On the day he retired earlier this year because of hip
surgery, Coleman hadn’t actually fought in three years, but
somewhere deep inside his soul he didn’t want to acknowledge that
his competitive career was over.

Well, as it turns out Coleman’s still competing, he just gets to
live vicariously through the youth movement of tomorrow via the
best fighters vying to get to the UFC by way of The Ultimate
Fighter.

“I’m hoping to do my best to turn one of these guys into a
champion,” Coleman said. “The closest thing to actually being in
the ring and fighting is getting to know a fighter, and training
him and actually watching him in there.”

Getting the call from Penn to join his team was a humbling
moment for Coleman. He’s considered the Hawaiian legend among his
closest friends for several years, but it meant the world to him to
have Penn ask him personally to help coach his team.

Coleman will now join Brazilian jiu-jitsu coach Andre
Pederneiras, striking coach and kickboxing legend Rob Kaman and
boxing coach Jason Parillo on Penn’s coaching staff.

“It’s hard to put it into words. The word ‘honored’, everybody
uses it too much, but I really am just honored that this guy would
want to use me as his coach,” Coleman said. “I’m honored that he
respects me enough to handle this position. I don’t take it
lightly. It’s going to be a serious job to me out there. I don’t
have a whole lot of idols, but BJ Penn is one of them. I love the
guy. For him to ask me to do this, I can’t put it into words.
Hopefully, I can do a good job with him and as long as he’s happy
with me, I’m good.”

Coleman will head to Las Vegas in the next few weeks to begin
his stint as coach on The Ultimate Fighter 19 alongside Penn. He
will also be a special guest of the UFC in November at UFC 167 when
they celebrate their 20th anniversary ahead of the fight card
featuring welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre against Johny
Hendricks in the main event. Coleman will also be launching a new
series of t-shirts as part of the celebration for a line called
“Legends of the Grind”, which will feature the former UFC champion
and his legendary team at The Hammer House.

The Ultimate Fighter 19 will debut on FOX Sports 1 in early
2014.