By now, it’s pretty common knowledge that Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson presented the winner with the BMF belt after the main event of UFC 244. He also revealed during the pre-fight press conference that there’s a reason behind his presence at the event. He announced that he’s due to produce a biopic of American grappling and MMA legend, Mark Kerr. He’ll also take the lead role in the film, sixteen years after HBO’s groundbreaking documentary.
Mark Kerr: The Smashing Machine
Mark Kerr was quickly identified as a fantastic fighter with almost limitless potential after his debut in 1997. His career started almost flawlessly with him going undefeated for 13 fights in the first three years. During this time, he won several fights in PRIDE and both the UFC 14 and 15 heavyweight tournaments. Outside of MMA, he clean-swept the competition at ADCC 1999 to take gold. The following year, he won both his weightclass and the absolute by beating Josh Barnett in the final.
The first three years of Mark Kerr’s career pointed to him going down in history as one of the greatest grapplers and MMA fighters in history. Even when he came up short in the PRIDE Openweight Grand Prix 2000 against Kazuyiki Fujita, nobody was really worried for Kerr’s future. His longtime friend and training partner, Mark Coleman, avenged the loss and won the Grand Prix in the end.
The Cautionary Tale
As HBO’s “The Smashing Machine” revealed, Kerr was hounded by an addiction to painkillers. This would ultimately contribute to the long decline of his combat sports career. He suffered two more quick defeats in PRIDE and decided to take some time off from his MMA career. In 2003 he lost his ADCC superfight championship to Ricardo Arona, before returning to MMA in 2004. Over the next five years Kerr attempted several comebacks while going 2-8 across ten fights in several smaller promotions.
This was the man who had more success in three years than 90% of athletes get in their career. To finish off with a 15-11 (1) record was something of an anti-climax compared to the lofty heights we had in mind. Mark Kerr’s story is legendary in MMA and it’s great to see it being brought to a whole new generation. Regardless of what the end of his career looked like, Mark Kerr will always be a face on the mount rushmore of MMA. Between him and Mark Coleman, they were the originators of the ground-and-pound tactic that fighters still use today.