Lightweight prospect Will Kerr (9-2) found the sport of mixed martial arts by accident. Seriously.
One night while a young kid, Kerr took out a video his mother had picked up from a local movie store and pushed the play button. It turns out the store accidentally gave Will’s mother a copy of an early UFC event. Luckily he managed to watch some of the fights before she realized what happened and yanked out the video. But it was too late. Will was hooked, even though he didn’t get to pursue the sport until years later.
“I watched some early UFCs as a kid by mistake, actually, and always wanted to try it someday,” Kerr told ProMMAnow.com. “Then I heard about a gym that taught MMA when I was in college, and I went down and started training and that was it.”
Perhaps it was fate, as Kerr made his WEC debut with only nine professional fights to his name. Despite the lack of experience, the New London, Conn., fighter was already used to tough competition.
While some guys work their way up the professional ranks slowly, Kerr’s first fight came against Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt Cesario de Souza. As it turns out, Kerr didn’t have to worry too much about going to the ground, knocking de Souza in the first round.
Kerr picked up two more wins before facing Ian Loveland of Team Quest, who later went on to compete in the International Fight League. Although Loveland came out on top with a guillotine choke submission just over two minutes into the bout, the step up in competition paid off in the long run.
“A lot of guys in New England are pretty tough,” Kerr said. “There’s definitely a push for the better guys to fight each other around here, so you can’t stay hidden for long.”
After that loss, Kerr put together a five fight winning streak, including a decision win over The Ultimate Fighter Season 12 participant Marc Stevens. Stevens ended up losing his two fights in the TUF house via submission, but Kerr thinks Stevens will bounce back.
“My fight with Marc was a really tough fight,” Kerr told ProMMAnow.com. “When I watched the fights to get in The Ultimate Fighter house and knowing how tough he is, I picked him to make it to the finals or at least the semi-finals. I was pretty surprised how things turned out, but I’m sure he’ll work on that part of his game and be back.”
In his WEC debut in November 2009, Kerr faced world class wrestler Kamal Shalorus. Things didn’t go well and the heavy-hitting Shalorus scored a TKO win in under two minutes. But it wasn’t ideal circumstances leading up to the fight for Kerr, taking the bout on short notice and having a limited amount of information about his opponent.
“I had read about his wrestling background and saw some Youtube clips, but it was hard to develop a game plan with no tape and taking the fight on short notice,” Kerr said. “So I think that didn’t help me very much.”
But Kerr had the chance to put together a full training camp for his second WEC bout, a showdown with Karen Darebyan. Almost as quickly as his previous fight ended in a loss, Kerr acted swiftly and secured an armbar submission victory.
Four of Kerr’s nine wins have come via submission, and he’ll need his ground game ready to go at WEC 53 on Dec. 16 in Glendale, Ariz., where Kerr will square off against Danny Castillo, an accomplished collegiate wrestler and a member of Team Alpha Male, which houses bantamweight standouts Urijah Faber and Joseph Benavidez and featherweight contender Chad Mendes.
“We’ve had about the same amount of fights, but he’s had more fights in the WEC,” said Kerr, who’s been preparing with Strike Zone MMA teammates such as Bellator vet Chris Simmons, Andrew Caron, and John Naples. “But I think we match up pretty well and it should be a good fight.”
The fight could carry added importance with the WEC’s roster set to merge with the UFC in 2011. Soon lightweights like Kerr will find themselves in a much deeper talent pool. Even with the potentially high stakes, Kerr doesn’t seem fazed.
“I don’t feel anymore pressure,” he said. “I always put such a large amount of pressure on myself to perform that any outside stuff doesn’t seem to make a difference.”
Kerr asked to thank his teammates at Strike Zone MMA and his coach Darryl MarcAurele.