Editorial

Mark Coleman on Dana White, fighter pay and celebrity boxing

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“There is a difference between a fighter and a martial artist. A fighter is training for a purpose: He has a fight.

“I’m a martial artist. I don’t train for a fight. I train for myself. I’m training all the time. My goal is perfection. But I will never reach perfection.”

“A brave man, a real fighter is not measured by how many times he falls, but how many times he stands up.”

Few know that better than UFC Hall of Famer, Mark Coleman, whose career started before the unified rules of MMA were introduced in 2000.

“Actually on the contrary my MMA career has gotten in the way of my weed-smoking.”

Known as the ‘Godfather of Ground-and-Pound’, Coleman helped popularise the use of wrestling in MMA, and there is one big change he has noticed since his heyday.

“Wanderlei Silva: six feet tall and 205 pounds. Boy, until I met you I didn’t know they could stack crap that high. Three months, you and the bad guy.”

“I know a lot of people got sick of seeing so much wrestling, but back then I said just give it some time, because as soon as everybody realises they have to learn how to wrestle, the score will change.

“Ground-and-pound is not loved by the fans, I understand that,” he admits. “But the only way to stop it happening is if you know how to stop the takedown, and that’s what everybody’s learned how to do.

“I respect the fact that they’re trying to be the best boxers they can be, and I wouldn’t be too surprised if we see both those guys switching into MMA because I know they both have a wrestling background.”

“I’m a curious person. We’re all curious people. Jake and Logan Paul, they actually come from Ohio, my home state. They both wrestled and wrestlers stick together for life.

“They worked hard to get to where they’re at with all the followers. And that’s where we’re at nowadays, it’s all about how many followers you got. That’s how you judge what a guy’s worth, and I think they’re worth every penny of it because people are tuning in. Even if they want to see them get their heads knocked off, well, they’re still tuning in to see that.

“The big thing now is obviously celebrity boxing, and I think it’s great. It’s great for boxing. it’s great for the MMA fighters.

YouTuber Logan Paul’s fight against Floyd Mayweather drew around 1m PPV buys, while Jake Paul’s fight against former UFC fighter Ben Askren did similar numbers.

“I love the opportunities fighters are getting,” says Coleman. “I am a big fan of bare-knuckle boxing. I love it and I think it will continue to climb.”

The big story in combat sports at the moment, though, is celebrity boxing.

“Compared to what we got back when I was fighting. They’re getting paid pretty good.”

With the UFC continually expanding, and its current valuation standing at around $7bn, many believe fighters are not being paid enough, and much of the criticism has been aimed at president Dana White.

“If you want to boo, that’s your right. Boo. Go ahead. Boo me all day long.”

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