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By: Jamie Penick, MMATorch Editor-in-Chief
UFC Hall of Famer Mark Coleman is returning to UFC programming next year, as he's been tapped as the wrestling coach for B.J. Penn's staff on The Ultimate Fighter 19.
Coleman revealed the news in an interview with FoxSports.com on Saturday.
The 48-year-old hasn't fought since a loss to Randy Couture in February of 2010, but he didn't officially announce his retirement until earlier this year after undergoing hip replacement surgery. Now, he's going to test that out while teaching a crop of young fighters on TUF.
"Me and B.J. Penn have been friends since the beginning of this thing, and I consider him a great friend," Coleman said. "Hopefully he respects my ability to coach some wrestling and hopefully help his team win this Ultimate Fighter. That's the goal to win in the end. I guess he's got confidence in me and he offered me the position to be his wrestling coach on the show. I'm extremely honored and excited to be on the show. Here we go, I'm going to have to put my hip to the test.
"It's hard to put it into words. The word 'honored,' everybody uses it too much, but I really am just honored that this guy would want to use me as his coach. I'm honored that he respects me enough to handle this position. I don't take it lightly. It's going to be a serious job to me out there. I don't have a whole lot of idols, but B.J. Penn is one of them. I love the guy. For him to ask me to do this, I can't put it into words. Hopefully, I can do a good job with him and as long as he's happy with me, I'm good."
Coleman joins what is becoming quite the coaching staff for Penn, as Nova Uniao's Andre Pederneiras has been tapped for jiu jitsu, Rob Kaman for kickboxing and general striking, and Jason Parillo for boxing as well. For Coleman, he's excited to give back to another generation of fighters and bring at least one of the competitors to prominence.
"I've always wanted to be able to give back somehow, and one of the few ways I can give back in general is to help kids like this achieve their goals," Coleman said. "I absolutely love being able to help somebody and give back. Hopefully these kids remember me, and if not I'll remind them. We're going to have a great time."
"I'm hoping to do my best to turn one of these guys into a champion. The closest thing to actually being in the ring and fighting is getting to know a fighter, and training him and actually watching him in there."
Penick's Analysis: Though Frankie Edgar's had more recent success and is the better active fighter of the two right now, B.J. Penn's putting together a coaching staff that all of the competitors are going to want a chance to work with. Now, because it's a bit of an "all-star" mentality in the coaching staff rather than a cohesive, previously successful unit, there could be issues with consistency and bringing everything together during TUF, but whomever winds up on Penn's team is going to have the opportunity to work with some really knowledgeable coaches.
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Jamie Penick, editor-in-chief
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