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UFC fighters in Kingdom: Can the cast of the show really fight?

Jonathan Tucker, Nick Jonas, and Frank Grillo (L-R) in
Jonathan Tucker, Nick Jonas, and Frank Grillo (L-R) in 'Kingdom'
Anwesha Nag
Modified 22 Nov 2020, 03:13 IST

Earlier this year, in an effort to keep subscribers entertained through the pandemic and lockdown, Netflix added several old shows to their ever-increasing library. Among them was MMA-based drama television series, Kingdom.

The show, which originally aired on AT&T's Audience Network from 2014 to 2017, stars Frank Grillo in the lead role, alongside a strong supporting cast of Kiele Sanchez, Jonathan Tucker, Nick Jonas, Matt Lauria, Natalie Martinez, and Joanna Going.

When the show first premiered in October, 2014, the world of MMA and UFC was a lot different than it is today. Far fewer people were watching it than now, and even fewer knew about the world beyond the Octagon. One of the show's main stars, Jonathan Tucker, was one of them. But his perceptions about MMA and UFC changed while doing research for his role on the show.

Kingdom was discontinued after its third season in 2017. But with Netflix now picking it up, a few glaring questions that a lot of fans had back then as well, has come back now.

Let's delve into it right away.

#1 Are there real UFC fighters in Kingdom?

A lot of people watching the show Kingdom are UFC fans or MMA followers in general, but not everyone. And those who are not are often interested to find out whether the fighters on the show are professional UFC fighters in real life.

The answer is yes, and no.


The main cast of Kingdom are professional actors, and not fighters. But they have trained extensively under former UFC fighter Joe Stevenson. The fights on the show were choreographed with notes from veteran MMA trainer Greg Jackson.

But the show does star MMA personalities and UFC stars in guest roles as well as playing recurring support characters.

Stevenson himself has a recurring role in the show of coach 'Daddy' in all three seasons and is part of the crew as a technician as well. Jackson also appears in one episode of season two as himself. Other than that, several top-notch UFC fighters appear in the show as fighting opponents of the show's characters, some of whom are also fighters.

The lead actor, Frank Grillo, does have a background in combat sports. He didn't compete professionally, but the Captain America: The Winter Soldier star has been training for over 35 years now. He started out with wrestling as a kid, then switched to boxing when he was 18 and he has never looked back.

"Ever since I was a young boy, I was a wrestler, and then I started boxing when I was 18. When I was done with my wrestling career, I discovered Rickson Gracie while I was living in L.A. I trained with Rickson for many years and continued to box. I travelled around a little bit and did some competitions with the Gracie team. I came back to New York and trained with the Machado brothers. I’ve been training for the better part of 35 years. I actually just got back from training boxing and did about 15 rounds today. It’s a big part of my life." (Via: MMA Weekly)
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Published 22 Nov 2020, 03:13 IST
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