Combat sports can be a harsh mistress. Take Mark Coleman, for example. Back in 1996, he won two UFC tournaments, and in 1997 was crowned as the organization’s first heavyweight champ (remember: there were no weight classes when the UFC was starting out). That was a long time ago, and the wear and tear of being a fierce wrestler and INVENTOR OF THE GROUND AND POUND has taken a toll on Coleman’s body. As per his GoFundMe page:

First UFC Heavyweight Champion, Hall of Famer and “The God Father of Ground and Pound” Mark “The Hammer” Coleman’s retirement from the sport he loved and gave us so many memories has not been very nice to him as of yet. ark had a hip replacement in 2013 and after surgery was named Wrestling Coach for Team Penn on Season 19 The Ultimate Fighter. After filming and returning home his hip popped out several times and pain began on the other side. He has struggled with and lived with the pain for well over a year and became very ill a couple weeks ago. He was taken to hospital doctor checked him out and had to stay for four days on antibiotics, when released he went to see hip doctor again and scheduled to have surgery on March 9th, only to discover while open on operating table he was full of infection and very close to being septic and lucky to have caught this! He is currently in hospitalized with a plastic hip until full surgery can be perofrmed in April. Mark currently has no income. His insurance is about to end, and we are currently looking into disability. I am looking to raise funds to help his cost of living, doctor bills, medication, and make up what he will lose in the next few months in appearances he will miss. Anything will help and thank you dearly! God Bless!

Unless you open up a steakhouse, like Johny Hendricks, or run a school, or have something else solid going on the side, fighting for a living is ultimately a losing prospect in the end. We know this from seeing so many broke, washed-up boxers over the years, and we’re starting to see this more and more with mixed martial arts. Sadly, the “take part in a Bellator superfight” option is off the table for Coleman, and his current state of affairs – and the fact that he was a seminal part in the evolution of the sport – is just a damn shame.