Warrior: Every Real MMA Fighter In The Movie

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Warrior: Every Real MMA Fighter In The Movie

Warrior cast professional MMA fighters in the critically acclaimed sports drama from 2011; here’s every professional fighter in the movie.

Several real professional MMA fighters appeared in 2011’s Warrior, and it’s one of the reasons why the decade-old sports drama still has a cult following. Warrior only made around $23 million in the box office – just a couple million shy of the film’s $25 million budget; however, although the studio lost money on the film, Warrior has gone on to become a beloved classic in its own right. Director Gavin O’Connor succeeds at elevating the typical tropes employed by mixed martial arts movies, adding convincing dramatic performances and some of the most gripping MMA fight scenes in cinema — both of which are crucial to telling the story of a broken family struggling to process past traumas. Apart from providing the backdrop for this family drama, the elements of MMA in Warrior drive the story forward in different ways.

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Warrior revolves around the lives of three men – two brothers and their father – whose personal issues rise to the surface during their involvement in Sparta, the biggest MMA event on the planet. Because of his violent actions in the past, former wrestling coach and recovering alcoholic Paddy Conlon (Nick Nolte) is estranged from his two sons, who were both student-athletes during their teenage years. One of them is former high school wrestling superstar Tommy Conlon (Mad Max star Tom Hardy), a war hero and deserter with a volatile personality. The other is Brendan Conlon (Joel Edgerton), a former UFC journeyman and physics teacher whose background and overall personality is similar to that of MMA legend Rich Franklin. Each brother needs the Sparta prize money for different, but equally sympathetic, reasons.

Warrior makes use of several professionals and icons from the world of fighting to establish realism. This includes UFC referee Josh Rosenthal, who appears in Warrior as himself. WWE champ Kurt Angle, who plays undefeated Russian fighter Koba, also appears as the film’s analog for MMA icon Fedor Emelianenko. Meanwhile, Brendan’s Coach, Frank Campana (Frank Grillo) reportedly based his character on MMA trainer Greg Jackson, while comedian Bryan Callen based his announcer character on famous UFC commentator Joe Rogan. While these decisions helped Warrior establish credibility in the fighting world, the cast’s roster of actual MMA fighters is even more impressive.

The first real martial artist to appear in Warrior is former MMA fighter Erik Apple, who plays Pete “Mad Dog” Grimes. In a nutshell, arrogant top contender Mad Dog could pass for an early version of UFC star Conor McGregor, and the aptly nicknamed “Bad” Apple is a shoo-in for the role. Early in the film, Mad Dog makes the mistake of insulting then-unknown Tommy Conlon when the latter offers to spar with the top contender at a local gym. As Mad Dog finds out in the worst possible way, Tommy is a force to be reckoned with.

Retired Brazilian MMA fighter Roan “Jucão” Carneiro plays the role of Marco Santos, the top contender being trained by Frank Campana. He first appears in Warrior when Brendan asks Frank to train him again. When Marco gets injured during training, Brendan takes his place in Sparta to represent Frank’s gym.

Rashad “Suga” Evans and Stephan “The American Psycho” Bonnar appear in cameo roles in Warrior. Both of these UFC Hall of Famers offer their take on the upcoming Sparta tournament in an interview with sports channel ESPN. As Rashad says in the scene, “$5 million is a lot of money. But they gotta remember one thing: they’re going against Koba. Mission impossible. Game over. Go home.”

UFC vet and Bellator fighter Anthony “Rumble” Johnson plays the role of top contender Orlando “Midnight” Le, who first appears during the opening of Sparta. He’s also Brendan’s first opponent in the tournament, nearly tapping the physics teacher in the first round. However, Brendan manages to get him in a Kimura in the second round, forcing Midnight to tap instead.

Playing the role of contender Houston Greggs, retired Bahamian UFC veteran Yves Edwards first appears during the opening of the Sparta tournament in the martial arts movie Warrior. Later, he faces off against Mad Dog in the octagon, who defeats him with strikes.

The fight between Brendan and Nate Marquardt’s Karl “The Dane” Kruller is a short but sweet display of dirty boxing and technical grappling in the octagon. Similar to what happened during Brendan’s fight with Midnight, The Dane gets the upper hand at first with strikes. However, Brendan manages to lock in an armbar during the scramble, forcing The Dane to tap out.

Although they aren’t technically MMA fighters, the stars of Warrior worked with some of the best fighters and trainers in the world in order to convincingly play their respective roles. While it’s unlikely that either Joel Edgerton or Tom Hardy will be entering the octagon as combatants soon, they both walked away from Warrior with a much better understanding of what it takes to be a real MMA fighter. And if there’s truth to the rumors regarding the possibility of Tom Hardy playing James Bond in the franchise’s next installment, there’s a chance that Agent 007 himself will be sporting some of Tommy’s moves from Warrior soon.

Peter is an elder millennial, cat-father, illustrator, and freelance writer for Screen Rant. Born, raised, and still based in Metro Manila, Philippines, Peter’s knowledge of geekdom was forged in the lagging fires of 56kbps Internet and dodgy forums, and now burns bright with the light of Netflix and downloads. When he’s not having visions about the end of the multiverse, he’s either bothering his cat or brewing ginger beer.

Warrior revolves around the lives of three men – two brothers and their father – whose personal issues rise to the surface during their involvement in Sparta, the biggest MMA event on the planet. Because of his violent actions in the past, former wrestling coach and recovering alcoholic Paddy Conlon (Nick Nolte) is estranged from his two sons, who were both student-athletes during their teenage years. One of them is former high school wrestling superstar Tommy Conlon (Mad Max star Tom Hardy), a war hero and deserter with a volatile personality. The other is Brendan Conlon (Joel Edgerton), a former UFC journeyman and physics teacher whose background and overall personality is similar to that of MMA legend Rich Franklin. Each brother needs the Sparta prize money for different, but equally sympathetic, reasons.

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