Inside story of when the UFC offered Mark Coleman a Brock Lesnar fight

Saturday, April 06, 2019

In 1999 Mark Coleman left the UFC after a three-fight losing streak. This began a historic run in Pride FC, that saw him win an open weight Grand Prix and have historic fights with the likes of Shogun Rua, Igor Vovchanchyn, Fedor Emelianenko, and Mirko Cro Cop, among others. Despite this run that solidified his place as a legend, he longed for a chance to return to the organization where he got his start.

In 2008 he got that chance. The UFC was honoring him with a spot in their Hall of Fame and he looked to parlay that into something more. Finally, he got a contract just before the induction.

“They finally offered me one right before the [Hall of Fame] induction,” he recalled to The Top Turtle MMA Podcast. “They offered me a contract and said it was non-negotiable - take it or leave it.”

While this was a dream come true for Coleman, the offer was not at all what he expected.

“They offered me Brock Lesnar. I was like ‘damn, I was already heading down to 205lbs. I was weighing about 225lbs at the most - Brock Lesnar, let’s face it man, he’s a 275lbs monster," said Coleman.

And that thought was not lost on Coleman while he contemplated the fight.

“Hey, size matters - I said that from the beginning,” he said. “Royce Gracie said size doesn’t matter, I said it does.”

With all that being said, Coleman didn’t skip a beat.

“I told them ‘Hell yeah, I’ll fight him,” he said proudly.

Before the fight was announced, Coleman suffered a significant injury. Knowing that his dream of returning was in jeopardy, he made sure the UFC didn’t think he was faking it to get out of the fight.

“Maybe it was a blessing by the Lord - I tore my MCL,” he said. “I sent them the MRI from the tear, making sure they didn’t think I was bluffing or anything.”

But even after all that, Coleman was still ready to throw down with the would-be UFC champion if it meant keeping his job.

“I said ‘listen, if you guys are going to cut me, I’ll fight him with my knee the way it is,” he said.

After offering to fight one of the largest, most athletic heavyweight of all time with just one knee, nobody should ever doubt the toughness of Coleman.


Author Daniel Vreeland is a co-founder of the Top Turtle Podcast, and a brown belt in Jiu-Jitsu at New England Submission Fighting in Amherst, Massachusetts.