Jonathan Snowden is one of the few MMA writers with the necessary historical perspective to really understand the meaning of Mark Coleman for MMA and his lasting impact on the sport's rule set. He writes this for the UGO:
It takes a special athlete to make an entire sport stand up, take notice, and then change the rules of the game to slow him down. In 1966, Lew Alcindor led his UCLA Bruins to an undefeated season and a NCAA basketball championship. In 1967 the NCAA banned the slam dunk to try to make things a little more fair for other teams. In 1968, St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Bob Gibson had a season for the ages, compiling an earned run average of just 1.12. When the smoke cleared from Gibson's blistering fastball, Major League Baseball lowered the pitcher's mound from 15 to 10 inches. The list of these incomparable athletes that changed their whole sport is short - but when history is written, we might just have to add UFC Hall of Famer Mark Coleman's name to the annals.
In October of 1997, after watching Coleman beat the crap out of seven opponents (and feeling political pressure from John McCain and others who called the new sport "human cockfighting") the UFC banned the headbutt, a rule change that seemed targeted towards Coleman and Coleman alone. I talked to the UFC 109 Main Eventer, still fighting at 45 years of age, about his legacy and those dominant days when he controlled the sport.
Snowden also gets Coleman to talk about what he thinks are his career highlights at Heavy.com:
Heavy.com: When you look back, was winning the UFC title the highlight of your career, or was it winning the Pride Grand Prix?
Mark Coleman: UFC 10, 11, and 12, they all combine together. They were all about the same high. The Grand Prix, it was very special. Because I had been left for dead by just about everybody in the whole world. Done, finished, career over. I knew I was going to come back. But to be able to do it, and silence the critics a little bit, that was special.
Read the whole interview, there's a lot of interesting discussion of Randy Couture, their differing wrestling styles (freestyle vs Greco-Roman), different career paths, etc.
Also be sure and read up on Mark Coleman in my MMA History series. Two parts feature him especially:
I haven't yet gotten to the PRIDE 2000 Open Weight Grand Prix that Coleman won. I promise to finish that this spring.