Mark Kerr is going to have a film made about him. The film was announced the week of UFC 244 by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson who is producing and starring in the film about Kerr. When the announcement was made, it seemed not many fans knew about the fighter known as “The Smashing Machine” and to those fans, the following is worth a read.
In his announcement, Johnson called Kerr one of the “founding fathers” of mixed martial arts (MMA). Kerr competed as a heavyweight and compiled an MMA record of 15-11 with one “no-contest” against Igor Vovchanchyn at Pride 12 in December of 2009. The incident is well documented in the film The Smashing Machine: The Life and Times of Extreme Fighter Mark Kerr (2002). While the film does focus on Kerr’s career and the Pride Fighting Championships 2000 Grand Prix, it also serves as required viewing for the history of the sport.
Kerr found his way into mixed martial arts through wrestlers like his friend and Pioneer wing UFC Hall of Famer, Mark Coleman. While Coleman was made a Hall of Famer years before the sport and the UFC became as popular as it is now, it’s time to remember and acknowledge those from that era of MMA and give Mr. Coleman some company in that wing. Since the passing of Kevin Randleman, Coleman has asked that Randleman be considered for the Hall of Fame. While some may not agree, it could be more than just wins versus losses that make a case for consideration to be inducted.
Kerr never won a title but he won the UFC heavyweight tournament twice at UFC 14 and UFC 15 in 1997 before he made the move to Pride FC. There was no official UFC heavyweight title to be won back then, but Kerr fought twice in one night at both events to win those tournaments which are rare in the current landscape of MMA. Only the Professional Fighters League, RIZIN and a few others still hold tournaments that have fighters fighting more than one fight a night.
Kerr fought in the time before marketing fighters and selling fights through social media became the norm it is today. While Kerr was fighting and making a name for himself in the sport that was still fighting for mainstream acceptance, he fought his own demons outside of competition. The dark side of Kerr’s career is also featured in the documentary from 2002, where his battle with opioid addiction sidelines him from performing at the level he felt was necessary back then. There was no USADA or Reebok deals, rules for a downed opponent were different and fighters like Kerr and his stablemates Coleman and Kevin Randleman from his native Ohio were cut from a different cloth.
Johnson, like many that may have seen the story of “The Smashing Machine” likely saw something in Kerr’s time in MMA that leaves a mark in the sport. It is both good and bad but part of the history of what MMA is today. If a film is getting made about Kerr, then maybe he could get in the UFC Hall of Fame. But, if he doesn’t, his story is one worth telling and if the induction comes, it comes but his story will always exist for generations to learn from.