Back in May of 1998, the UFC held it's 17th Pay Per View event. It was titled UFC 17: Redemption. On that night in Mobile (Ala.), former UFC Heavyweight Champion Mark "The Hammer" Coleman took on UFC newcomer Pete Williams. In a fight that tested endurance as well as resolve, Williams knocked out Coleman just 38 seconds into the overtime period with a brutal head kick. Williams had won his UFC debut. Coleman's career began to spiral out of control. Coleman went on to lose a split decision to Pedro Rizzo in his next fight before going to Japan and dropping a fight due to submission to then 1-2 Nobuhiko Takada. However, Williams was not Coleman's originally scheduled opponent for that evening in Mobile. It was then current UFC Heavyweight Champion Randy Couture.
Randy Couture earned the UFC Heavyweight Championship in December of 1997 by defeating Maurice Smith via decision. It was Smith's second title defense since he took the strap away from Mark Coleman in July of 1997. Couture, at 4-0, won the Heavyweight Championship in record time for a career. It only took four professional MMA fights in the UFC. He bested Coleman who had taken six fights to earn it. They were slated to meet in the octagon that May evening but Couture had to pull out of the fight late in training camp due to an injury. They called upon Pete Williams to replace him. Williams appeared outmatched in the early going but did throw up a nice armbar attempt that almost made Coleman tap out before rolling out of it and then controlling the fight once more on the ground. Coleman was completely gassed after about seven minutes and just cruised the final five minutes of the regulation time period. In overtime, Williams was the aggressor as a tired Coleman just stood in his corner and took a beating before succumbing to a vicious head kick.
One does have to wonder, though. What would have happened if Coleman and Couture had actually met that night? Would Coleman have been knocked out? Would Coleman have actually trained better knowing he would be going up against the Heavyweight Champion? Would Couture have been able to ride out a decision against Coleman, who had a notorious history of gassing, in a clash between two powerhouse wrestlers? All these questions have been left unanswered due to Couture's injury a little over 12 years ago. In a way, it robbed us of one of the most looked forward to Heavyweight showdowns in UFC history.
I know this is a look back at history but perhaps this could also be a look forward into the future. Both men are approaching the end of their proverbial rope. Couture is 46. Coleman is about to turn 45. Neither man has much going for him right now. Couture has a fight at 205 scheduled against Brandon Vera for UFC 105. Coleman had a match scheduled with Tito Ortiz for UFC 106 but had to pull out due to injury. Both guys, at the present moment, are in the 205-pound division. Neither guy will, most likely, challenge for a title anytime soon. A match between these two would be a match between two guys who should have fought over a decade ago but never got the chance to.
Call me crazy, but this is a fight that needs to happen. Just to finally put the baby to bed. What say you?