Tom Hardy MMA movie: How did the 'Warrior' star prepare for his role as a fighter?

Actor Tom Hardy stunned viewers with his physique when he played an MMA fighter in Warrior [Image Credit:]
Actor Tom Hardy stunned viewers with his physique when he played an MMA fighter in Warrior [Image Credit:]

Since its arrival in the mainstream almost two decades ago, there have been a number of movies made about MMA. Many were reviled by MMA fans and moviegoers, but a film starring Tom Hardy trended in the other direction.

One of the more successful efforts was 2011’s Warrior. A story of two estranged brothers competing in a mega-money tournament (and eventually facing each other), the movie was directed by Gavin O’Connor and starred Tom Hardy, Joel Edgerton and Nick Nolte.


While Nolte eventually received an Academy Award nomination for his role in the movie as recovering alcoholic Paddy Conlon, it was Hardy who got most of the attention, primarily for his hulking physique.

So how did Tom Hardy prepare for his role in this MMA movie?

According to a 2009 interview with the actor, who labelled the movie “really intense”, he had to do a huge amount of training for his role as former US Marine Tommy Riordan.

“I started training in December when I was doing another film and trained all the way through to shooting, six weeks straight fighting with Nate Marquardt, who’s a middleweight for the UFC, Anthony ‘Rumble’ Johnson, who’s another middleweight for the UFC, Yves Edwards from PRIDE. It was the most intense seven-day-a-week training and then we trained all the way through the first two months of shooting as well til we actually got into the ring. It was pretty intense, a step up from Bronson on fighting. The choreography was really to the letter, and it wasn’t originally backed by the UFC.”

Later in the interview, Hardy would claim he gained around 28lbs of muscle for the role.

Another interview, this time with The Guardian, saw Hardy claim that he had to eat chicken and broccoli “incessantly”. He also stated the following about his training regime.

“I did two hours boxing a day, two hours Muay Thai, two hours jiu-jitsu followed by two hours choreography and two hours of weightlifting seven days a week for three months. So come on! You have to really want to do that, so it was a challenge.”

Tom Hardy's MMA movie: Can the actor fight in real life?

Tom Hardy often plays tough characters in his movies, as he did in Warrior in 2011. But can he actually fight?

It’s probably fair to say that unlike his character Tommy Riordan in Warrior, the UK-born actor wouldn’t take the UFC by storm.

However, Hardy does have plenty of experience in the world of Brazilian jiu-jitsu. The actor took up the martial art while preparing for his role in Warrior and has clearly continued on in his journey.

2022 saw him claim a double gold medal in a charity jiu-jitsu tournament in Wolverhampton, UK, with many of his bouts ending up going viral on TikTok and other social media outlets.

Hardy later took to Instagram to pay tribute to the impact that taking up jiu-jitsu has had on his life and health, stating that the martial art had helped him to develop a “deeper sense of inner resilience”.

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Edited by Micah Curtis
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