Coleman puts fighting first, family second

Mark (The Hammer) Coleman will be looking to get his career back on track when he faces Stephan...

Mark (The Hammer) Coleman will be looking to get his career back on track when he faces Stephan Bonnar at UFC 100 in Las Vegas. (UFC Photo)

NEIL SPRINGER -- SLAM! Sports

, Last Updated: 2:07 PM ET

LAS VEGAS -- It's something you don’t often hear a fighter say, but Mark (The Hammer) Coleman figures his family has gotten in the way of his work.

Coleman, a UFC Hall of Famer and legendary figure in mixed martial arts, is attempting to resurrect his career in the sport. But he's gotten off to a rocky start.

"In the past 10 years I haven't committed myself to the sport," Coleman said. "I've been more of a father first and a fighter second, and my record shows. I lost the eye to be a champion, had some personal issues and they really affected my fighting ability."

Coleman, who sports a MMA record of 15-9, has achieved more in his career than most fighters could ever dream of.

He was the very first UFC heavyweight champion, defeating Dan Severn via neck-crank submission at UFC 12. He won both the UFC 10 and 11 tournaments and was crowned the PRIDE 2000 Open-Weight Grand Prix Champion.

Those wins, though, seem like they happened a lifetime ago.

At UFC 93 in Dublin, Ireland, he was stopped by TKO in the third round by Mauricio (Shogun) Rua. Both men received harsh criticism for their poor conditioning. Despite this, the bout was one of two to be named fight of the night.

Coleman’s comeback won’t be any easier when he faces Stephan Bonnar (11-5) at UFC 100 Saturday in Las Vegas. He will enter the octagon against a tough opponent who is coming off a loss to Jon Jones at UFC 94.

In order to prepare for the fight, Coleman removed any distractions, which included not seeing his children.

"I've recommitted myself, rededicated myself and I haven't seen my kids for 90 days,” he said. “That's been the hardest part about this, but I think they're going to understand. And after this win, we're going to celebrate and it'll have been worth the time I missed with them. We'll have a lot of fun."

The good times won't be immediate, however.

First, he has to beat Bonnar, runner-up on the first season of The Ultimate Fighter. Even if he can accomplish that, he'll need to wait a while before he can see his kids.

"I wanted to bring them (to the fight), but there were issues with the ex-wife -- she wouldn't allow it," Coleman said. "So it's very disappointing because they're the first people I want to see after the fight. I'm dying to get this fight over with so I can get back home and see my kids."

Though Coleman seems to have already planned out his victory party, he says he's not looking past Bonnar.

"Stephan Bonnar has one of the biggest strengths a person can have and that's his heart," Coleman said. "He's not afraid to get in there and bang around and he's never been stopped (in the UFC). He's very long and tall. He's got a lot of strengths, but so do I.

“I'm going to take advantage of my wrestling ability and I'm going to determine where the fight goes. I have worked on my stand-up skills. My training camp went really well and I expect to win this fight.”


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