Coleman joins Penn’s coaching staff

UFC

target="_blank">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

target="_blank">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

href="http://msn.foxsports.com/ufc/story/bj-penns-suprise-return-to-tuf-091113"

target="_blank">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.