If you are a fan of mixed martial arts, specifically UFC’s offering and production, you are familiar with every major event being “UFC Two-Hundred-and-Something.” That’s how many pay-per-views and championship matches there have been.
And I have been there for all but two.
Since UFC III: The American Dream, I have been a die-hard fan. I still remember sitting in a living room with several of my martial arts students and a few of my teachers at my sensai’s house.
We made up this huddled mass of pubescent angst and pugilism gathered around one of those big-box big screens from back in the day struggling not to get queso on Sensai’s white carpet.
We wanted to see the Godfather of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Royce (pronounced “HOY-ss”) Gracie taken on “The World’s Most Dangerous Man” Ken Shamrock fight in the tournament, get to the final, and pulverize each other. And…well, neither of them made it to the final. But that wasn’t the point…
These were traditional martial arts students watching people who kinda looked like some of us potentially whoop up on others that well…didn’t. Big, short, wide, skinny, fit, fat — the Ultimate Fighting Championship had every martial and fighting art represented by men from every walk of life.
Then came UFC 14: Showdown when this behemoth chiseled out of granite showed up. His name was Mark Kerr. Fans of collegiate wrestling knew full well who that Adonis was. They called him “The Smashing Machine” and he was the absolute truth!
Kerr’s first tournament and he dominates a guy nearly 50 pounds heavier than he was. Next one was UFC 15 and he crushed that too. He goes overseas to fight in PRIDE..and throttles the competition. Regretfully, he couldn’t squash his own demons as easily as his opponents, which is what brings us to Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.
A Biopic With a Ring to It
Yeah, same guy.
How could this brawny powerhouse go from that…to this?! Sure, Mark Kerr was still capable of handling his own but one of the heavyweight pioneers in full-contact fighting is now rocking a dad bod and why? Drugs.
He went from painkillers to heavy narcotics. He went from undefeated to not being able to win a match. Mark Kerr was a shadow of himself and the entire fighting community noticed. Years later, he personified what it meant to “start from the bottom and now, he’s here.”
That story has inspired many people–including a young Dwayne Johnson. Fast forward to last weekend, “The Rock” is now going to portray Mark Kerr in a movie.
“Mark Kerr’s story is such an incredible story,” Johnson said, addressing his fans at Madison Square Garden, after he made the surprise announcement Friday night that he’d be portraying Kerr on film. “Like all of us, and like a lot of these fighters, he battled these demons — these demons of addiction, these demons of mental health, these demons of getting out and the pressure of fighting in front of 50,000 people and what that does to somebody.
Here’s a guy who has gone through it all, hit rock bottom, but the best part about Mark Kerr is that, like all of us in this room and all these fighters, these warriors, is that everyday, we get up and we want to do a little bit better tomorrow than we did today.”
According to Variety, Seven Bucks Productions, Johnson’s production company will produce the film, but no studio has been announced yet. Fortunately, for fans and admirers alike, Rock understands the magnitude Mark Kerr’s story.
“The guy was a beast and he was dominant and there was only one like him at that time,” Johnson continued. “When you think about these fighters, there is no other sport like MMA — the multiple disciplines and the pressure and the fact that you put your life on the line, literally, every time you step in the cage — and if you dig a little deeper than the physicality that they have, there’s a real character of depth to a lot of these warriors, and Mark is one of them.”
From 1997 to 2009, Mark Kerr was the best. Hopefully, this will be another movie involving the fighting arts to show what the best looks like.