Category Archives: MMA Payout

Interview with “Warrior” star Joel Edgerton

Originally posted on MMA Payout

MMA Payout had the opportunity to speak with “Warrior” star Joel Edgerton. Edgerton played older brother Brendan Conlon, the high school teacher and ex-UFC fighter thrust back into the cage to make money for his family.

MPDid you know anything about MMA before this role?

“I knew MMA existed but I was more interested in boxing. Since this movie role, I am a convert to it (MMA).”

Edgerton was aware of the UFC’s shows in his native Australia but was out of the country both times. “I was disappointed that I could not go, it would have been keen to watch the UFC on home soil.”

MPWhat did you think of the role when you were first presented it?

“I thought it was a good script and an ambitious project.” Edgerton’s participation in the movie was due in part because of director Gavin O’Connor. He was a fan of his work on Miracle and Pride and Glory. “If you are going to do a movie on MMA, you had to do it right and breathe life into it.” Edgerton added, “He’s (O’Connor) the right person to do it as you see it (Warrior) now.”

O’Connor, produced the raw, HBO documentary, “The Smashing Machine,” which featured MMA fighter Mark Kerr. Edgerton recalls watching it when it came out and saw it again in preparation to work with O’Connor, “I saw it again. I think it was an interesting template for what Warrior is about.”

MP: How was the training, diet, getting ready for the role?

“Gavin wanted two actors to get to the (film) location early and train hard. Because when you are an actor you can fake a lot of things. But, there were certain requirements that you couldn’t fake.”

Edgerton and his co-star Tom Hardy worked out for 10 weeks from 7:00 am until the mid-afternoon. During that time, Edgerton learned jiu jitsu and muay thai as well as dieting and getting a lot of rest.

Edgerton holds a black belt in Shotokan Karate he earned as a kid but had never dabbled in other martial arts and had never been around wrestling. During the filming, Edgerton grew a fondness for jiu jitsu. “If I were to continue in martial arts I would learn jiu jitsu. I found jiu jitsu strategic and challenging.”

Edgerton also mentioned special thanks to MMA trainer Greg Jackson. Edgerton and co-star Frank Grillo, Brendan’s coach Frank Campana, spent time with Jackson to learn about the fighter-coach dynamic. “We observed a lot in the gym,” Edgerton explained of his time at Jackson’s MMA. They specifically learned about Jackson’s instructions to his fighters between rounds. Edgerton recalled Jackson asking the actors regarding specific situations, “If you were training this guy, what would you say?”

“I can’t speak highly enough of that guy,” Edgerton said of Jackson.

MP: How was working with the MMA fighters?

“It was great. My complete understanding of MMA was through the guys (MMA fighters Erik Apple, Anthony Johnson and Nate Marquardt) I thought this was going to be an “Alpha Male” atmosphere in the gym. But, they were so helpful to Tommy (co-star Tom Hardy) and I and so interested in what was going on (with the film). They were dipping their toe into acting and we were dipping our toe in their world. It was like a cultural exchange. I guess when you think about it, they were concerned that the sport of MMA would not being depicted accurately. The guys were hoping we were going to represent it (MMA) the right way.”

Edgerton also noted that the Tapout guys, Punkass and Skyscrape, were “bending over backwards” to ensure that the crew had everything they needed for the movie.

MP: Have you encountered those with a negative perception of MMA?

“It feels like the sport is on the cusp and there’s a lot of people interested in it and its growing like wildfire. Still, there’s a little bit of negative attitude about the sport. There is a feel that it is gladiatorial. Yet, these are probably the same people that stop and watch a fight on a street corner or car accident.”

Edgerton has grown an affinity for the sport and the time and dedication the fighters put into the sport. He finds the fact that some perceive it one way is a shame.

In its first weekend, MMA Weekly reports that the movie made 5.6 million at the box office and third overall in the U.S. Edgerton expressed his happiness that the film has received positive reviews from critics and moviegoers.

You can check out the Payout review here.

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Review of upcoming MMA Film, “Warrior”

Originally Posted on MMA Payout

I had the opportunity to see a sneak preview of the new mixed martial arts movie, “Warrior,” opening on September 9th.

Warrior has everything MMA fans are used to: a high school teacher turned MMA star, a war veteran-turned-fighter, a stoic Russian MMA machine, a mohawked brawler, a seedy manager, a famed trainer and an underdog story.

The story centers around the Conlon family in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Eldest brother Brendan is a physics teacher with a wife and two daughters trying to make ends meet. When the bank tells him that it will foreclose on his home in 90 days he turns to fighting in a quasi-toughman contest to earn quick dollars. He is suspended from his job after its learned what he is doing and he must turn to MMA fights full time. Despite his wife’s apprehension, the former UFC fighter convinces her that he is cherry-picking against less skilled fighters and it will be easy money. He regroups with his old MMA coach and is thrown in with a younger, stronger training camp. Brendan eventually adopts and when an opportunity presents itself, he finds himself in a two day MMA tournament in Atlantic City with the winner getting $5 million.

Younger brother Tommy is an Iraq war veteran holding onto a secret from his tour of duty. Looking to rekindle his past as a champion amateur wrestler, Tommy works out a boxing gym where he discovers a group training for the same big tournament in Atlantic City. After Tommy delivers a severe beatdown to the gym’s toughest fighter, he is noticed by an MMA manager who pulls strings to gets him into the tournament. In order to train, Tommy seeks help from his recovering alcoholic father (Nick Nolte) despite his disdain for his father who tore their family apart when he was a kid.

With both brothers making the tournament, there is the prospect that they could meet. Unlike the Klitschko brothers, the Conlon brothers are willing to fight as Tommy feels that Brendan betrayed him as when their father and mother split up, Brendan stayed in Pittsburgh with his father and girlfriend (and eventual wife) instead of moving with him and his mother west.

Similar to “The Fighter” and “The Wrestler,” the combat sport serves as the backdrop for the story’s plot. Warrior is more “The Fighter” than “The Wrestler” as the sport serves as the vehicle for the story.

Fighters Erik Apple, Anthony Johnson and Nate Marquardt make cameos as opponents in the tournament. Kurt Angle plays the movie’s version of Fedor which is ironic since he is a U.S. Olympic gold medalist in wrestling and his pro wrestling character plays up American patriotism.

The movie does a great job in explaining the sport of MMA without hitting the audience in the face with it. Although Warrior embellishes the rules of MMA, the fight scenes are fairly true. Not only do the action sequences feature stand-up game but also show jiu jitsu. Warrior will play well with non-MMA fans as it does not try to shove the sport down the audience’s throat. The movie is subtle in letting the non-MMA fan know that the sport is more than physicality and its participants and fans are intelligent. Brendan, the high school teacher, teaches physics. Also, the school principal is a closet fan who secretly backs Brendan’s moonlighting although its frowned upon by the school.

Tommy (played by Tom Hardy) looks more like pro wrestler Bill Goldberg (trap muscles and all) as he enters the cage, disposes of an opponent and then leaves without any celebration or the referee raising his hand in victory. Nick Nolte is excellent as the fallible alcoholic father trying to make amends after a lifetime of screwups. Brendan (played by Joel Edgerton) is the most complex character of the three as his primary goal is to provide for his family by any means. Yet, he does not know how to deal with Tommy or his father.

In prelude to the premier, MMA Weekly reported that Insight Editions and Lionsgate Films released a coffee table book, “The Men of Warrior.” The book features images and stills of the MMA fighters participating in the movie including Nate Marquardt and Erik Apple. Hopefully we will see more marketing behind the film as its opening approaches. Its not just a mixed martial arts film and hopefully people will not dismiss it because of any negative stereotypes.

Regardless of whether you are a fan of mixed martial arts, “Warrior” is one of the better films of 2011.

 

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Dana White on Fox Sports today

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Bellator ordered to comply with discovery in Zuffa lawsuit

Originally published on MMA Payout

Sherdog’s Tracey Lesetar and J.R. Riddell report that Zuffa received a boost in its lawsuit against Bellator Fighting Championships and Ken Pavia of MMA Agents as the United States District Court of Nevada denied Bellator’s protective order to stay discovery until the court decides Bellator’s motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction.

The background of the lawsuit was summed up by MMA Fighting last summer:

The suit alleges Bellator and Pavia were conspiring to essentially steal trade secrets from Zuffa through the exchange of confidential documents in e-mails. Pavia, head of the MMA Agents representation firm, handles dozens of MMA fighters, including many under the Zuffa umbrella.

In its motion to stay discovery, Bellator requested the court hold off on the parties from having to conduct written discovery and depositions before the court decides on whether to dismiss Zuffa’s case. Prior to the motion for protective order staying discovery, Bellator took issue with Zuffa filing the lawsuit in Nevada. Bellator claimed that it had no ties with Nevada and, by law, Zuffa could not file a lawsuit in Nevada. Instead, if the lawsuit were to continue, Bellator would want it moved to New Jersey.

Payout Perspective:

The issue being fought over is a basic Civil Procedure question involving jurisdiction. The papers even include a reference to International Shoe (a famous case for those that have attended law school). The court ruling means that Zuffa will agressively pursue Bellator and Pavia with discovery. This will range from written requests to depositions. It is likely that there will be many skirmishes between the parties about the production of documents and other information. The discovery deadline for the parties is set for the end of June.

As Sherdog points out. this case may serve as a model on how non-Nevada promotions and MMA companies will be treated in the future. Basically, can the UFC and other Nevada companies sue promotions in Nevada if those promotions have minimal contacts with the state.

(h/t: MMA Supremacy)

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Lesnar’s next move unclear

Originally published on MMA Payout.

Does Brock Lesnar want out of the UFC? Dave Metzler of The Wrestling Observermade news this week with news that Lesnar may walk away from the UFC after his contract ends. The news took off that Lesnar was quitting MMA and going back to the WWE–which was not the case. Metzler needed to clarify the situation in an interview with Steve Cofield of Cagewriter.

In his interview with Cofield, Metzler believes that Lesnar does not want to go back to pro wrestling full-time but may entertain one-off appearances like a Wrestlemania. He also believes that Lesnar would like a deal in which the UFC would allow him to do Wrestlemania in exchange for his participation on The Ultimate Fighter opposite Frank Mir.

Zach Arnold of Fight Opinion has more about Lesnar and a return to the WWE:

What’s intriguing about UFC being reluctant to allow Brock to appear at Wrestlemania is that not only is UFC destroying WWE in PPV buys but they have also taken away a lot of disgruntled WWE/wrestling fans who are sick of the McMahon/Kevin Dunn cookie-cutter production. In one respect, Dana’s objections make complete and total business sense. On the other hand, why should he be worried about Lesnar appearing at Wrestlemania if the public at-large knows that UFC is real and WWE is not so much? Despite the amazing growth of UFC, I do think the situation with Lesnar indicates how nervous people in MMA still are to the fact that the public at-large, or at least the media, is willing to lump the two into the same business category.

MMA Fighting has Dana White’s thoughts on Lesnar:

[Dana] White reiterated that Lesnar is restricted under the terms of his contract from doing a guest spot for any pro wrestling promotion without the UFC’s permission, and that permission is not coming anytime soon. Asked if he could discuss any developments in Lesnar’s potential return to the octagon, White took a deep breath and took a drink of water before answering. “We’ll see what happens,” he said. “We’ll see what happens.”

Not the most confident response from White.

There is speculation that his “run-in” with the Undertaker after his loss with Velasquez is setting up a return to the WWE just in time for Wrestlemania this spring. Thus, the reason we haven’t heard much about his return to the Octagon. On the other hand, some think that he is destined for a third fight with Frank Mir and he would be a “coach” on The Ultimate Fighter. This could explain the reason why White has not announced the new coaches for the next TUF. Is the UFC waiting to hear on whether Lesnar agrees to do it. Based on White’s statements, the UFC is unsure what Lesnar’s next move will be.

Payout Perspective:

Lesnar is the biggest UFC draw when it comes to PPV. He has drawn 1 million buys in his last two fights. The Carwin fight drew 1.1 million buys and his loss to Velasquez drew 1 million buys. If Lesnar left, his drawing power would be sorely missed. GSP is the only other UFC fighter that can rival Lesnar in PPV buys.

Perhaps it’s his WWE training, but Lesnar is a main event draw despite what you think of his ability. With Cain Velasquez injured, Roy Nelson out indefinitely with legal issues and Shane Carwin recovering from surgery, the UFC Heavyweight division lacks many top of the food chain fighters to main event PPVs.

It will be interesting to see how the UFC approaches the situation. It must decide its TUF coaches and plan Heavyweight fights with or without Lesnar in the mix. Fortunately, the influx of WEC talent can fill fight cards, but the UFC has to determine its Heavyweight division with so many of its notable fighters out.

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Frank Shamrock on Jimmy Fallon talking Strikeforce and anti-bullying campaign

Originally published at MMA Payout

Strikeforce’s Frank Shamrock made an appearance on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon last Thursday to promote Strikeforce’s Dec. 4th event as well as his anti-bullying campaign, Stand Up Together.

http://www.hulu.com/embed/WDVHwjL3v6XPLbJBKNJzzg/0/217

Payout Perspective:

Shamrock’s appearance is a big step for the mainstream visibility for Strikeforce. I thought he was great but I would be interested in knowing whether the casual MMA fan knew the names Babalu Sobral or Dan Henderson, even if both were in the UFC at one time. It’s a good start for Strikeforce if they can get Shamrock on as a regular guest to promote Strikeforce fights. He’s a likeable guy and seems to understand Fallon’s comedy.

As for the anti-bullying campaign, it was a good way for Shamrock to leverage his appearance to promote his non-profit. The campaign makes sense for Shamrock since it could reshape the public perception of MMA fighters like Shamrock, appeal to a wider audience and elevate his image. Although not a target for bullying, Shamrock’s cause shows empathy for people that are susceptible to bullying.


via youtube.com/thefrankshamrock

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White honored at 2010 Sports Media Marketing Awards

Originally Published on MMA Payout

UFC President Dana White was honored with the Sports Media Marketing’s Game Changer Award Thursday night in New York. The award was presented to him by PromaxBDA, a global nonprofit organization dedicated to the development of new technologies, applications, business models and industries.

From the Sports Media Marketing web site:

The Game Changer Award recognizes a cultural innovator who, through the development of new strategies, business models technologies, applications and industries, has transformed the business of Sports Media and Sports Media Marketing.

White was recognized especially for embracing social media and engaging UFC fans and sponsors in a bold and innovative fashion, something that hasn’t been accomplished by any other sports leader.

Payout Perspective:

White stands out from executives of other sports leagues for his forward thinking in marketing the UFC. He constantly uses Twitter to promote the UFC product without pushing it on followers. His tweets aren’t commercials like some other famous people on Twitter. I appreciate his pictures at the weigh-ins and/or backstage the most. He also uses #Hunt4UFC on  Twitter for scavenger hunts and ticket giveaways prior to UFC events. In addition, we’ve also written about viral videos the UFC has made in promoting its product.

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