Allow me to introduce you to Mark Kerr-former UFC Champion and current Dad Bod-having train wreck. How could a titan such as this have declined so quickly?
I, of course, am not a professional fighter, nor have I ever been. But, having done a couple of amateur fights, a few unsanctioned fights, and many a spar, I can indeed confirm that this sort of emotional mixture (one might call it “sublime” if you were an utter tool) is typical-no matter how many times you fight, you will be nervous before a fight that is “for real”, your amygdala and adrenaline glands will take over and produce a low burn of anger in the midst of the fight, and you will experience either a massive high or an abyssal low afterwards, depending on whether you won or lost. I can only imagine how amplified these effects would be in front of a crowd of 30,000 people.
The emotional turmoil of combat can catch many unprepared (I’ve personally seen people who win fights vomit afterwards, due to the sheer stress of it all), and this leads to the second lesson to be learned…
Unfortunately, sometimes you can train hard and improve, but still fail due to some outside circumstances: in this case, exhausting himself against Kazuyuki Fujita and his Homer Simpson-esque skull. Bitterly humorous is the fact that the tournament does serve as a redemption and comeback…but for somebody else, namely Kerr’s mentor and training partner Mark Coleman, who gets about 20 minutes of screen time and, essentially, serves as a foil to Kerr.
The 2002 documentary on him The Smashing Machine has some possible answers, which I analyze in today’s article, which you can read right here