Wednesday, May 9, 2007

The Smashing Machine

I am at this moment watching a DVD called The Smashing Machine, which tells the story of a few years of Mark Kerr's fighting career. So far we've seen his introduction to MMA from wrestling, his successes in UFC and Pride, and his battle with drug addiction. I'm at this moment watching him beat Enson Inoue in the 2000 Pride GP's first round. The raw emotion of this film is very affecting. Seeing the legends like Coleman, Vovvchanchyn, Rutten, Wanderlei Silva, and Royce Gracie just casually walking around makes it seem kind of unreal. The backstage and training footage is amazing, the sounds are unbelievable.
There was a scene where Coleman and Kerr were waiting during a pre-fight press conference of some kind, and Coleman is staring at Kerr, with pure pain in his eyes. They're both in the tournament, and you can see Mark Coleman praying to any god he can think of to not have to fight Mark Kerr.
They really are careful, tender almost about his drug use, and his fights and conflict with his girlfriend Dawn.
Well not right just now..."...As far as me having a couple beers, every now and again...what's the big deal? I was jamming needles into my arm ten times a day."
They do a VERY good job of showing the sheer drudgery of training. Over and over, up the stairs with a weight vest on, kicking the pad until you're staggering tired, situps, weights, running, grappling. I imagine all of the tasks that I do day after day in my job, repeating the same or similar movements and mental exercises, and think, could I possibly handle this kind of pure physical strain, and the mental fortitude it takes to handle it? Kerr handled with drugs before, they're showing him (as far as I know to this point) handling it sober.
The way they portray Bas Rutten is interesting too, as a concerned mentor. He's one of the original MMA superstars, and continues to be a figure in it though his fighting time is slowing to a trickle, through announcing and commentary, as well as training. So to think of him with a camera in front of him as a concerned mentor with no other thoughts seems a bit disingenuous. He is a media figure.
They're showing the second round of the Pride GP, Coleman's bout, and Kerr watching. Coleman delivers body shots that make huge contusions on his opponent's ribs...and wins a decision. I can look up all these fights on Sherdog, of course. I lie this set up.
Kerr enters the ring against Fujita. Fujjita has a thicker skull than other humans. He is legend in his ability to take punishment. The Smashing Machine delivers massive blows after taking his man down. Fujita take sKerr down, takes his back and delivers punishment. kerr turtles up. The ref watches...the movei goes to soundtrack with no ambient. Fujita is merciless with knees to the body. The fight ends with Kerr on the ground eating knees and punches, and Fujita wins the decision.
Showing Coleman Vovchanchyn's final match, interposed over Kerr getting a wicked cut in his chin stitched up. Coleman has Igor on his back and delivers vicious knees to the head (now illegal) from north-south. I know we've all seen this before, but it's like I'm seeing it all over again. Coleman wins the tournament, and the $200,000, which will feed the mouths he talks about.
I'm gaining a greater respect for Mark Coleman and his work and training. The man was pretty well dominant for his time, and he beat some great fighters. The juxtaposition of his victory and Mark Kerr's wounds being tended to after his loss was heartbreaking. Marrk has not fought since July 2001, states the documentary, but Sherdog, as usual, has the updated facts. Mark has fought six times since the loss to Fujita, with a record of 1-6, losses coming from Heath Herring, Mike Whitehead, and Vovchanchyn. Five straight losses.
The credits end with "In Loving Memory of Bubba T. Moose".
DVD extras...
Bonus Film, "Fight Day". Renzon Gracie in a wild and wolly ring, with screaming fans and some great ju-jitsu. Renzo lives in New Jersey. I've seen him talking about it on IFL broadcasts. He has an infectious want to grin with him.
I'd recommend the hell out of this whole DVD. Amazing. The rawness of it stunned me a little...that is one facet of MMA and combat sports in general that I've always loved, so I was waiting for it, but it was still powerful. These men are unbelievable athletes and to see them humbled like this, and not being able to walk away from it and watch the winner like they do in MMA & boxing broadcasts, it makes a difference.

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