by Mitch Gobetz for MMAWeekly.com
Last time we saw Mark Kerr fight, he was on the ground covering up after getting beaten decisively by Mike Whitehead in the IFL. Everyone was curious to see what the “Smashing Machine” could do in the ring one more time. Unfortunately for Kerr, he was never really able to show what he had left. He’ll have one more chance as he tries once again to revitalize his up and down career against Mustapha al Turk on February 10th in Cage Rage.
This will be a good test for Kerr as his opponent is relatively new to mixed martial arts with a record of three wins and two losses. Kerr has gone through some very tough times as many people saw in the HBO documentary “The Smashing Machine”. His addiction to painkillers, as well as his volatile relationship with his on again, off again girlfriend has had a very negative influence on his fighting career. Kerr’s desire to train has also come into question in the past.
Several years back, he was one of the most dominant fighters in the sport. His size, wrestling and effective ground and pound were tough for many fighters to deal with. But he hit a steady decline starting in the Pride 2000 Grand Prix, getting beaten by Kazuyuki Fujita. After defeating Igor Borisov and then suffering back-to-back losses to Igor Vovchanchyn and Heath Herring, the “Smashing Machine” took two and a half years off, only to come back to another losing effort to Yoshihisa Yamamoto at Pride 27.
Kerr was set to fight Wes “The Project” Sims in Denver, before pulling out just hours before the fight. Prior to his fight with Mike Whitehead, Kerr said that he is focused 100% on fighting and seeing where he is in his career. He still has excellent wrestling and that could be hard for any fighter to deal with if he can get his hands on you. Kerr’s inactivity may prove to be a factor though. He didn’t have much time to get any ring rust off in his fight with Whitehead. The questions remain. Can he get back to being a legitimate contender? Will he have the determination and motivation to train as hard as he needs to? Can his body handle the rigors of training full time? We’ll find out in February.
Also on the card is Eric “Butterbean” Esch taking on the always game James “Colossus” Thompson. This has the makings of a slugfest written all over it. “Butterbean” has had a rocky career in mixed martial arts, but this will be a good test of chins, unless Thompson elects to take Esch down. Other notable fighters on the card are Rob Broughton (who holds wins over “Butterbean” and James Thompson), as well as Dan Severn.