This is the second post on the “High Water Mark” of certain fighter's careers. The title is not meant to be mean spirited or bashing of any fighter.
Kazushi Sakuraba: Called the “Gracie Hunter” for his four wins over the Gracie family, but I prefer the “The IQ Wrestler”. Saku fought most of his career against Light Heavyweights even though he was naturally a Middleweight, and his last few fights have been at Welterweight. I believe Saku's HWM came at the end of the first round on 3 November 2001 as he sat in the ring pointing to his broken collar bone. This was his second fight with Wanderlei Silva and his second loss to him. At that time Silva (16-3) was ranked 2nd in the world and Saku (12-3-1)was 13th at LHW. After this fight Saku would go on to have 14 more wins over names like Kevin Randleman and Ken Shamrock, but he would also have 13 losses. His level of competion declined as did his body. He came into fights with his leg wrapped to the hip and even had his ear ripped from his head. On 4 April 2000 Saku was 3rd ranked LHW in the world today he is ranked 255th at Welterweight.
Whenever anyone looks back at Sakuraba's career I think you have to remember the huge weight advantage almost all of his opponents had over him. He defeated the top fighters of his day at a 20-25lb disadvantage. He has fallen a long way, but he will always be one of the best fighters to ever compete in MMA. He competed at the first UFC Japan on 21 December 1997 and won the Heavyweight Tournament. In a perfect world ,when the UFC returns to Japan in 2012, Kazushi Sakuraba would be brought into the Octagon and inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame.
Karo Parisyan: “The Heat” was a six time Junior National National Champion at Judo. He brought his high level Judo skills to MMA with him and was known for his slick,high flying throws from the clinch. His HWM came on 17 November 2007 with his decision win over Ryo Chonan. Karo was riding a streak that had him winning 8 of his last 9 fights. He had beat Chris Lytle, Nick Diaz, and Matt Sera during that streak. His one loss was to Diego Sanchez in a Fight of the Night performance. At that time he was the 5th ranked Welterweight in the world. His next fight was a loss to Thiago Alves, and Karo's downward spiral would begin. He was suspended for pain killer use, cut from the UFC for pulling out of a fight, and would battle mental health issues related to anxiety. Since the Chonan fight he has gone 1-4-1nc. He is currently ranked as the 149th Welterweight in the world.
Mark Coleman: “The Hammer” showed the world what an elite level wrestler could do at UFC 10 on 12 July 1996. He is known as "The Godfather of Ground & Pound". He defeated Dan Severn to become the first UFC Heavyweight Champion on 7 February 1997. This was not his High Water Mark however. In fact he would go on to lose his next four fights, and drop to 64th in the world. Coleman's HWM would come on 1 May 2000 at the PRIDE FC Openweight Grand Prix. At the time Coleman was ranked 47th in the world. On that night “The Hammer” would defeat Igor Vovchanchyn (ranked 10th) to win the Grand Prix. After this victory Coleman would be ranked 2nd in the world. (He had only been ranked 3rd after his UFC Championship victory.) After the PRIDE Grand Prix Coleman would only win 5 of his next 11 fights. He dropped to LHW and returned to the UFC where he lost his last (?) fight to Randy Couture. To “The Hammer's” credit he was still ranked as 24th LHW in the world after the loss.
One of the things I take away from Mark Coleman's career is how quickly a fighter can rise and fall. He went from 3rd to 64th and back to 2nd in the rankings. I think we as fans need to remember this when we write off fighters who fall on a losing streak.
Once again I hope you enjoyed this, and thanks for taking time to read it. All rankings come from fightmatrix.com.