‘The Rock’ Starts MMA Training Camp

Hot off the heels of a headlining role at WrestleMania, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is kicking off an MMA training camp in preparation for his next movie.

Way back in 2019, Johnson announced plans to star in a biopic on NCAA Division I champion turned UFC and PRIDE FC fighter Mark Kerr. The wheels of Hollywood turn slowly, but the project is finally on the verge of filming under the indie production company A24 (Civil War, Midsommar) banner. Benny Safdie (best known for Uncut Gems) will direct, while Emily Blunt is rumored to co-star.

In a new Instagram video, “The Rock” shared his excitement for the project.

“With WrestleMania behind me, my second training camp of 2024 begins tomorrow for my next role in a film titled The Smashing Machine,” he wrote. “My body’s banged up from Mania, but no injuries and feeling great – ready to go. Starting my MMA workouts tomorrow. I’m coming into this in pretty good conditioning and cardio shape, but MMA is a different animal. And Mark Kerr was a ‘one of one’ monster.”

Kerr was a fearsome fighter at his peak who used his wrestling pedigree to put opponents in bad positions and then smash them into a bloody mess. But as he reached the peak of the sport, his struggle with steroid addiction and depression overwhelmed him, costing him several fights and nearly his life.

“I run to this Smashing Machine journey with deep respect and love for all MMA fighters and the culture,” Johnson said. “Especially those who have struggled with addiction. I’ve lost so many friends (wrestlers) over the years from addiction and mental health struggle – from suicide to, it was just their time to go. This is my love letter to them. Let’s get to work.”

It will be interesting to see whether any of Dwayne’s MMA training makes its way onto his social media. “The Rock” isn’t one to let people see him struggle — for years, there have been persistent rumors that he was contractually required to win all his Hollywood fights. That won’t work for a biopic on Mark Kerr, who started his career on a twelve fight win streak but then went 3-11 on the downside of his combat sports days.

The Smashing Machine is currently slated for a 2025 release. Those too impatient to wait can check out the award winning 2002 documentary of the same name which captures Kerr’s tragic implosion in real time.

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