Mark Coleman’s PRIDE Trophy is For Sale and We’re Bummed Out

Fightland Blog

By Fightland Staff

From the outset, John Hyams’s 2002 documentary The Smashing Machine presupposes that Mark Kerr was the best no-holds-barred fighter during the pubescence of mixed martial arts, an American wrestler with the size and viciousness to reach great heights. But by the time the credits roll an hour and a half later, it's clear that that distinction belonged to Mark Coleman.

The movie was filmed during an awkward interstitial period between now and then, when the Unified Rules hadn’t come to fruition and a domestic blackout of the UFC provoked behemoth midwestern grapplers to head to Japan and earn a paycheck on the unsteady ground of PRIDE’s ever-changing rules. Kerr was rightfully the star of the show, an undefeated and candid fighter with big things in store. Coleman was a bit player, a former Olympic wrestler and once-dominant UFC heavyweight champion coming off four straight losses (including an improbable, suspicious-looking heel hook against Nobuhiko Takada at Pride 5). For a little while, the film is poised as an insider's glimpse at Kerr’s greatness in the bizarre world of professional face punching.

Once the cameras catch a glimpse of the needles, syringes, and high-potency painkillers that Kerr keeps in the drawer, however, the story takes on a dual narrative. There’s the chronicle of Kerr’s addiction, recovery, and personal turmoil. Then there’s the career renaissance of Coleman at the PRIDE Grand Prix 2000 tournament. Coleman manhandled and neck-cranked his way through a turn-of-the-century murderer’s row, capped with a submission due to strikes over Igor Vovchanchyn. For his efforts, Coleman fell down and walked away with $200,000 and a trophy almost as big as he was. The outcome for Coleman was as happy an ending as exists in combat sports.

Which makes the news that Coleman’s trophy and novelty check from that tournament are up for bid on eBay all the more depressing to hear. It’s not the first time a fighter has tried to auction off a memento of past glory: Back in 2008, Ricco Rodriguez put up (and eventually took down) his heavyweight championship belt on eBay as well. But that doesn’t make it easier to believe that life has been kind to Coleman four years removed from his last fight. The starting bid is $24,500. As of now, there haven’t been any takers. Instead of dwelling on whatever circumstances compel a fighter to part with a piece of history, let’s remember the good times instead.

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