In a groundbreaking move for both cinema and the world of mixed martial arts, Hollywood star Dwayne Johnson is set to headline the biopic of legendary MMA and UFC Heavyweight Champion Mark Kerr. The actor’s production house Seven Bucks Productions has reportedly acquired the rights to produce this film and is moving ahead with the project in collaboration with A24, with Benny Safdie set to direct. Titled after Kerr’s well-known moniker, The Smashing Machine, the movie is expected to follow his struggles.
Who is the MMA and UFC Heavyweight Champion, Mark Kerr?
Born in Ohio in 1968, Mark Kerr was highly fascinated by the world of wrestling growing up. It did not take him long enough to follow up on his passion as he began his wrestling career as a freshman in high school. He continued his journey and went on to be a Division 1 champion at Syracuse University.
Kerr was also able to secure All-American status. He won multiple EIWA titles and also enjoyed a successful Freestyle wrestling career after college and almost made it into the 1996 USA Olympic team. However, after losing the opportunity, he turned his attention to Mixed Martial Arts and made his MMA debut in 1997.
He then ventured into the WVC (World Vale Tudo) Championships in Brazil before he became a dominant figure in UFC and Pride FC. He made his UFC debut at UFC 14 in the heavyweight tournament. After winning two UFC heavyweight championships, Kerr shifted to Pride FC allegedly due to UFC’s promotional issues.
Mark Kerr was considered among some of the top MMA Heavyweight fighters in the world at the time. He had a great start, going on an extended win streak before he fought Kazuyuki Fujita and lost by decision. It is believed to mark Kerr’s MMA career, with only one subsequent win before entering an extended period of defeats, leading to his departure from Price FC after experiencing three consecutive losses.
Mark Kerr Succumb to Substance Abuse
A 2002 documentary film named after his popular moniker, The Smashing Machine, highlighted his issues with struggle with substance abuse, his relationships with his then-girlfriend, and his friendship with the retired MMA fighter Mark Coleman.
It also features his addiction to painkillers which led to an overdose. The documentary revealed that he was taking performance-enhancing drugs throughout his MMA career. He shared that he did not opt for such options initially.
However, he shifted to them due to uncertainties about “what was going to happen or take place [in MMA].” The MMA fighter shared that soon, he started experimenting with “anabolics and androgenics” and acknowledged being on a small dose of anabolics in his first fight in Brazil.
It also showcased how his addiction impacted his personal life, strained his relationship, and even contributed to a downward spiral in his career. The documentary highlights the lengths to which Kerr had to go to satisfy his addiction, including being hospitalized due to an overdose in October 1999. He later joined rehab, acknowledging that he needed serious help.
Mark Kerr’s Relationship With Dawn Staples
The documentary also features his relationship with his then-girlfriend, Dawn Staples. The model, who loved and supported Kerr, showed up at most of his matches. However, the drastic difference in their lifestyle led to many arguments between the couple, reportedly adding to stress for the heavyweight champion.
The Smashing Machine presents the complexities of their relationship, revealing that Kerr sought comfort and security from Dawn, as he couldn’t handle the depression that followed a fight on his own. However, people close to him, including Bas Rutten, were not in support of their relationship and even suggested a separation from Staples.
Despite issues in their relationship, the two got married in May 2000. However, not much information is available about his status as of now. He has a son who is often seen on his Instagram feed. With Dwayne Johnson working on a biopic, fans could hope to get a deeper look into his profession and personal life.