Mark ColemanEarly MMA fighter and first-ever UFC heavyweight champion Mark Coleman will be inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame as part of next weekend’s UFC 82 festivities.

UFC 82 takes place March 1 in Columbus, Ohio — the home of the Ohio State University, where Coleman was a NCAA Division I national wrestling champion.

Coleman’s possible induction had been rumored for the past couple weeks, and MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com) today confirmed the selection.

After a successful amateur-wrestling career, which included the 1988 national collegiate championship and a seventh-place finish at the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona, Coleman made his transition into MMA. He debuted at UFC 10 and won the event’s eight-man tournament, and then repeated the feat at UFC 11. Five months later at UFC 12, he defeated Dan Severn via neck crank to become the UFC’s first-ever heavyweight champion.

Coleman, though, lost his next three fights in the UFC and would join Japan’s successful PRIDE Fighting Championships. Coleman became one of the sport’s biggest stars and won the 2000 PRIDE Open-Weight Grand Prix Championship. He last competed in October 2006 at PRIDE 32, where he suffered a second-round submission loss to Fedor Emelianenko.

Coleman, now 43, finished his career with a 15-8 record, which included a 6-3 mark in the UFC.

Coleman’s induction into the UFC Hall of Fame will coincide with a variety of events to honor Marine Major Ray Mendoza, a former Ohio State teammate of Coleman’s who was killed in military action in November 2005. Coleman will honor his fallen friend during his induction speech next Saturday.

UFC 82 takes place at Nationwide Arena and airs on pay-per-view. For the latest UFC 82 fight card, check out the UFC Rumors section of MMAjunkie.com.

* * * *

In addition to Coleman, ESPN.com quoted UFC President Dana White as saying that David “Tank” Abbott will “absolutely” earn an induction into the UFC Hall of Fame when he decided to retire.

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