UFC 11: What happened when Mark Coleman bid to win back to back UFC tournaments?

Mark Coleman: Became the first man since Royce Gracie to win back to back UFC tournaments
Mark Coleman: Became the first man since Royce Gracie to win back to back UFC tournaments
Paul Benson

UFC 11 took place on September 20, 1996 and was a disaster of an event. "The Hammer" Mark Coleman returned to the company on the back of his impressive victory at UFC 10 but even he could not save a chaotic offering from the MMA powerhouse.

Sure, they had discovered their next big star, and UFC were hoping Coleman would win once more. He did, but not in the way they would have hoped.

In the opening round, Coleman squared off with Julian Sanchez, competing in his first and only MMA bout. "The Hammer" quickly took the giant Sanchez down and forced a submission due to a neck crank after just 45 seconds to move to 4-0 in his UFC career.

Next up was another once and done MMA fighter, Reza Nasri competing against UFC veteran, Brian Johnston. This fight ended in a right royal mess as Johnston dominated Nasri with headbutts and strikes from the mount.

Referee "Big" John McCarthy jumped in to stop the fight but in the process badly busted open Johnston's nose. In chaotic scenes, the fighter berated McCarthy who immediately apologised. Incredible.

"Big" John McCarthy apologises to Brian Johnston after accidentally busting his nose

Tank Abbott returned to the UFC and fought Sam Adkins. The pit fighter dodged an early right hand and took Adkins down. Shuffling up his opponent to the cage, Abbott violently placed his arm over Adkin's throat to inevitably earn the quick submission victory.

With the longest fight thus far clocking in at just over two minutes, Jerry Bohlander and Fabio Gurgel treated the fans to a much more closely fought encounter.

Bohlander dominated with strikes and was far more effective in the mount than Gurgel was. He was the deserving victor over the 15 minute time-frame and the judges agreed, awarding him the Unanimous Decision.

So, the Semi-Final line up was Coleman versus Johnston and Tank versus Scott Ferrozzo. who replaced the injured Bohlander.

Coleman versus Johnston was a mismatch. "The Hammer" quickly took down Johnston and worked him over with some short right hands before creating greater distance and smashing his opponent with some huge rights. That was enough to earn the win.

Tank vs alternate Ferrozzo lasted an interminable 18 minutes. Tank, for the first time in his career was heavily dwarfed by the mammoth Ferrozzo, but the story of the bout was that Abbott was the one who was completely gassed and offered very little offence, instead insisting on staying in the clinch and barely working an opening at all.

This encounter was at its best when both men were trading blows but this was so infrequent that tedium repeatedly overtook what, on paper, should have been an entertaining bout.

Ferrozzo, who was by far the busier of the two, achieved the decision win. However, this was where the chaos of the event ensued. Ferrozzo pulled out of the final citing exhaustion and dehydration and the remaining alternate Roberto Traven also withdrew due to injury.

With no-one else available to face Coleman, the "Hammer" was awarded the tournament via walkover.

A hugely dissatisfying way to end a pay per view, UFC attempted to eat up some of their remaining pay per view time with interviews of Ken Shamrock and Don Frye as well as an in-Octagon presentation to Coleman.

Due to the disastrous ending to this show, UFC pulled out the big guns and went all out for their Ultimate Ultimate year end spectacular three months later.

That line-up included: Ken Shamrock, Kimo Leopoldo, Don Frye, Tank Abbott, Gary Goodridge and Paul Varelans as the UFC looked to recover their audience goodwill.

They would achieve exactly that. Ultimate Ultimate 1996 was a storming show which erased all memories of this calamity.

Edited by Sai Krishna


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