MMA Sports Film: Formula for Cockfighting Sports Film

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“Boom is James’ love letter to MMA — once referred to as “human cockfighting” by former presidential nominee Senator John McCain.”

– Gameness til the End

Here Comes The Boom (Film)

Here Comes the Boom is a 2012 American sports comedy film directed by Frank Coraci, written by Allan Loeb, and also written and produced by Kevin James, who also starred in the lead role. The film co-stars Henry Winkler and Salma Hayek. The film was released in the United States on October 12, 2012.

Former collegiate wrestler Scott Voss (Kevin James) is a 42-year-old bored and disillusioned biology teacher at the failing Wilkinson High School. Budget cutbacks at the school jeopardize the continuation of its music program, which would result in its teacher, Marty (Henry Winkler), being laid off. Concerned for both his colleague and his students, Scott attempts to raise the $48,000 necessary to keep the music program alive. At first, he works as a night instructor for a citizenship class. One of his students, Niko (Bas Rutten), approaches him to get some outside tutoring and Scott reluctantly agrees. When Scott arrives at Niko’s apartment, he realizes that Niko was a former mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter. While watching the UFC at Niko’s apartment, Scott learns that the winner of the fight receives $50,000, which gives him the idea of raising the money by fighting in MMA himself. Niko begins training him defense, and later brings him to another trainer, Mark (Mark DellaGrotte), to train for offense. While Mark trains with Scott, Malia De La Cruz (Charice Pempengco), one of Scott’s students and a band member, helps Niko study for his citizenship test by putting the information into songs. Scott then begins fighting in small MMA fights and gradually gaining higher amounts of money for the school.

Scott eventually gets a dinner date with the school nurse, Bella (Salma Hayek), and they share many moments together showing much affection for each other, while Scott’s passion for teaching is rekindled. Mark meets with Scott and tells him that he was offered a fight in the UFC, with the certainty of earning $10,000 even if he loses, but it was denied by Niko. When Scott angrily confronts Niko, Niko apologizes and that the only reason he turned it down was because he was jealous. Niko himself was asked to fight at the UFC and eagerly accepted, but while he was training, he injured his neck and his career ended. Scott and Niko accept the offer. Scott and his crew travel to the MGM Grand Las Vegas for the UFC event. Once he arrives, he learns that the administrator entrusted with the musical program funds has been embezzling both from the winnings and the school, meaning all his effort so far has been lost. Knowing he can get $50,000 if he wins the fight, he attempts to win rather than lose and earn the $10,000.

The publicity of Scott’s slow rise to fame has grown, and the school has come to support him. The musical program plays his representative song, and Marty reminds Scott that even if he does not win, he has inspired the students, which is their real purpose. Scott at first is no competition to his dangerous opponent, Ken Dietrich, who is angered that his original opponent canceled and that he is stuck with a man that “does not deserve” to be at the UFC fight. After finding inspiration from the students after being disoriented, Scott manages to win the UFC fight, earning $50,000 for his victory and Dietrich’s respect. Scott and Bella kiss through the chain link fence of the octagon.

A side plot involves student Malia, her father, and Scott’s brother Eric (Kevin James’ brother, Gary Valentine), who is unhappily self-employed as a house painter. Eric has a large family and both he and his wife have low paying jobs; Eric enjoys cooking. Malia’s father has a restaurant that is failing since his chef quit. Malia’s father wants her to stop music and focus less on school so that she can help with the restaurant, but she has a passion for music. Scott encourages Malia to pursue her musical talent, which drives hostility from her father to Scott for “causing his daughter to disobey him”. Eric becomes the chef for her father’s restaurant, which improves the business, so Malia’s father is thankful to Scott. Once Malia sings at the UFC fight to represent Scott on TV, her father realizes that music is her true passion and is proud of her.

In the closing scene, Niko and all of the students in Scott’s citizenship class are awarded American citizenship at the citizenship ceremony.

In its opening weekend, the movie earned $11.8 million in the domestic box office and as of March 3, 2013, the film has earned $72 million worldwide.

Here Comes the Boom has been chosen as one of ten best films for family audiences by the 21st Annual Movieguide Awards on February 15, 2013.

Kevin James on filming ‘Here Comes the Boom’: ‘I definitely got my fair share of getting punched in the face’

By Andy Samuelson on Oct 2 2012, 4:00p


US PRESSWIRE – Presswire

Actor Kevin James discusses his new movie “Here Comes the Boom,” and the attention that was made to make the fighting scenes realistic and paint MMA, and specifically the UFC, with a brush filled with inspiration.

Kevin James’ new movie may be a comedy, but the sitcom star from “The King of Queens” is quite serious about his MMA.

“In getting the UFC’s blessing and using their name, I think their big concern was they didn’t want this goofy guy, this Paul Blart guy coming in the ring and falling all over and making a mockery of it,” James told host Ariel Helwani on Monday’s edition of “The MMA Hour” of his film, “Here Comes the Boom,” which opens in theatres next Friday, Oct. 12 — the day before UFC 153.

“I never wanted to do that. We wanted it to be realistic and wanted to be able to make it look like we knew what we were doing. They (UFC) don’t need me. They were very reluctant to give that name out to anybody. (But) they knew the passion I had for the sport and how emotionally attached I was to it. The Fertitta brothers were fantastic, as was Dana. They knew that I wanted to do it justice and be as true to it as I could in the best way possible.”

James, who stars alongside Salma Hayek and Henry Winkler, plays a high school biology teacher who takes up MMA in an effort to raise money for his struggling school that is being forced to cut extracurricular activities.

“I wanted to make it realistic that an every day guy, a teacher like me in this movie, could enter, after training and training and training, … the lowest level of an undercard fight due to a fallout. And take it from there,” says James of the movie he calls an “inspirational comedy.”

James — a longtime MMA fan, who is real-life buddies with former UFC champ Bas Rutten and UFC commentator Joe Rogan, who both have roles in the film — says he got the inspiration for the film several years ago after watching the first few UFC events and meeting Rutten.

“I’ve been a fan from back in the day in 1993 from the first inception of it all. My love for the sport grew (from there). I also became a big fan of Bas Rutten back then,” James said. “Just watching this crazy guy with these knee-high boots doing the splits after knocking people out. When he actually came and fought in the UFC in America, we said how cool would it be to actually get to know this guy and maybe even train with him? And that’s exactly what happened.

“We just became friends and it was an awesome friendship. Through him we met so many other fighters, and meeting all these fighters the cool story to me was just about how these guys aren’t just gladiators fighting in a cage like animals, but they’re just everyday people fighting for different causes. Whether it was fighting to put food on the table for their kids or fighting for another family member. That’s what really inspired me, just kind of to see how these guys were just regular people and kind of friendly with each other and in the community too. I thought that was just really, really cool.”

Naturally James said the fighters in the film, which include Jason “Mayhem” Miller, Krzysztof Soszynski, Mark Munoz, and Chael Sonnen, were obviously super cool, but actually better than average actors.

“‘Mayhem’ Miller was unbelievable at that (turning from fighter to actor),” James said. “They all were. Krzysztof was amazing. In the fight scenes I would hit them, and I would feel horrible about it. But they didn’t even notice it. ‘I didn’t even feel it, don’t worry about it.’

“They were all such professionals. Mark Munoz was great and Chael Sonnen was fantastic. They all played their part and they all got the comedy of it. There was just no ego in it and I loved it.”

But James admitted there were several occasions where he took a few shots on the chin from his co-stars.

“I got tagged a lot in the film. I got to be honest, I got punched a lot,” James joked. “What you’re basically trying to do is teach these guys who have been taught their whole lives to hit this target, what they’ve been born to do, and now you’re asking them right before we shoot a scene to miss the target by a couple of inches.

“I wanted the fight scenes to be sloppy with me in there, I didn’t want it all (to be about) technique. It’s not like that in a fight. You’re plans kind of go awry, you’re getting thrown around, out of breath, not in the same position. (And because of that) I definitely got my fair share of getting punched in the face.”

James — a decent wrestler growing up in New York, who actually wrestled on the same high school team as former WWE champ Mick Foley — said he enjoyed his preparation for the role, which saw him drop from 285 pounds to 218.

“About 14 months out or right around there, we were just like we got to change everything,” he said. “I started drinking greens and really getting into shape. I had an organic diet and was training with all these guys from the UFC. Really started to working with them and taking it real serious.”

So too did he take his role of making sure hardcore MMA fans would believe the fight scenes were realistic.

“We put in endless attention. We wanted to show it as real as we could, and not only just in the UFC, but building up to the UFC in these lower-end fights,” James said. “These arenas these guys fight in can be these backyard chicken-wire things. It’s pretty horrible setups, but they all are realistic to what is out there.

“And not only do the events get bigger as I progress, but the talent does. In order to do that we had to make sure that when you’re moving up the ranks and you get in the UFC that the speed and the power and the intensity of the fighting is amplified. It was very important for us that I couldn’t just walk in there and be this hero guy and knock people around. It just doesn’t happen. We made it really, really intense.”

James says a similar kind of back-and-forth battle for legitimacy that still takes place in the modern MMA world would likely occur with moviegoers.

“It’s still not sanctioned in New York and it’s still a battle out there. And the battle with this film is the actually the fighting,” James said. “It’s obviously an asset with some people: ‘Ah I want to go because it’s a fight movie.’ That same thing can hurt, because some people aren’t into it because it’s a fight move.

“What I’m trying to do is a little bit more of putting the aspirin in the apple sauce for people and show them (MMA) can be inspiring. What I’m finding out most, which I love, is people who weren’t fans who have seen screenings of the movie are like: ‘I thought it was just going to be two barbarians cockfighting in a cage going crazy. But it’s not. You turned me on to the sport of it because I got inspired by it.”

Former UFC champ turned actor Bas Rutten readies for his close-up

Loretta Hunt
Posted: Thursday October 11, 2012 3:12PM ; Updated: Thursday October 11, 2012 5:58PM

Former UFC champ Bas Rutten co-stars in ‘Here Comes The Boom’ (out Friday)

Rutten portrays the coach of Kevin James’ character in the bighearted romp

The role mirrors Rutten’s own transition from Dutch immigrant to success story

Bas Rutten (above) has made the improbable transition from UFC champion to commentator to actor in a motion picture.
Bas Rutten (above) has made the improbable transition from UFC champion
to commentator to actor in a motion picture. AP

Seventeen years ago this month, Bas Rutten stood on a Santa Monica beach and made the most pivotal decision of his life.

“It was 3 p.m. and I was drinking a Heineken and a tequila shot when I called my wife back in Holland,” said Rutten, who was 30 years old at the time. “[Back] there you could skate on lakes, so I told her to start packing. We were moving to America.”

That decision set in motion a sequence of career moves that would propel Rutten from UFC champion to industry-leading fight commentator to TV host to supporting actor in a major motion picture.

On Friday, Rutten shares the big screen in theatres nationwide with comedy virtuosos Kevin James and Henry Winkler in Here Comes The Boom, a bighearted romp about a science teacher (played by avid MMA fan James) who moonlights as a cagefighter to raise the funds needed to save the high school’s music program.

It’s no coincidence that Rutten’s character, Niko, has some striking similarities to the actor portraying him. James co-wrote the script with no one else but Rutten in mind to play the role, as they’ve been MMA trainer and student off and on for 15 years, and have become close friends.

Like Rutten, Niko is an animated Dutch immigrant trying to get his U.S. citizenship when he befriends James’ Scott Voss, who asks him to become his MMA coach when he learns of Niko’s past as an international fighting superstar.

It might not be that much of a stretch for Rutten, who’s accomplished all of the above, but that wasn’t James’ motivation in casting him. Boom is James’ love letter to MMA — once referred to as “human cockfighting” by former presidential nominee Senator John McCain — and the charismatic Rutten has been one of its most beloved icons since 1993.

And as James and many others within the fight industry figured out a long time ago, it’s always best to set Rutten up and just let him go, as his instincts as an entertainer are as sharp as the trademark liver shots he used to unload on hapless opponents.

Mummies, Spiderman and the Dutch Bruce Jenner

From age 6 to 14, Sebastian “Bas” Rutten spent weeks and sometimes months in bed, swathed from head to toe like a mummy. Rutten, the second son of a bookkeeper and a wildlife conservationist, was born with chronic eczema, a skin disorder that would erupt into pussy lesions up and down his body.

Outbreaks required 24-hour care; relatives would send bed sheets for Rutten’s mother to rip into bandages to replace the ones that her son would tear off in the middle of the night when the itching became too much to bear. Bas’s childhood was a blur of creams and cortisone shots, but the situation never seemed to get him down. Bas spent the time reading comic books and daydreaming about America. As early as six years old, he knew he would live there someday.

When he was well enough — Rutten also suffered from intermittent bouts with severe asthma that weakened him to the point that he couldn’t get down a set of stairs alone — a young Bas attended school in his native Eindhoven, Netherlands.

He showed up in turtlenecks and protective gloves, and the other kids mercilessly teased him and called him “melaatse,” or leper.

When a verbal taunting wasn’t enough, the bullies would chase Bas, who’d escape into the forest behind his house and climb the trees, agilely swinging from one branch to another like Spiderman when the braver kids attempted to follow him. After one such attacker almost died from a fall, the other kids stopped climbing after him.

“I knew everything in the forest,” said Rutten. “I had a secret home tree, where I pretty much lived. I also liked rooftops and streetlamps. My parents would get calls saying ‘He’s out there again.'”

Bas’s parents were sympathetic but they didn’t coddle him, not wanting him to think he was different than any of the other children. But Bas was always destined to be different. Trapped in the body of a misfit lie a born entertainer.

“I was this kid who never sat down,” said Rutten. “Nobody liked me? Well, I’d make sure they’d like me. I was the class clown, always doing crazy stuff and causing riots.”

The only place where Bas was unconditionally accepted was in P.E. class, where his superior athleticism made him a guaranteed first-pick for dodge ball and other competitive activities because the other kids knew they needed him on their team to win.

Bas’s classmates didn’t appreciate all of his talents, but his teachers certainly noticed them. One of Bas’s instructors told him that he’d someday be famous, then named her son after him.

At age 12, while vacationing in the south of France with his family, Rutten ad his brother snuck into the cinema to watch Bruce Lee’s Enter The Dragon and Bas saw his future flash by in front of him. He begged his parents to let him try martial arts classes, but said they were too conservative to allow it. They relented two years later and Bas began Tae Kwon Do classes, but within a few months, he got into his first street fight with the town bully, Jackie.

“I dropped him with one shot, but broke his nose in the process, so the police showed up,” said Rutten. “So, that was it: no more Tae Kwon Do for Bas.”

When Bas turned 14, he had a growth spurt and underwent a transformation of Clark Kent-Superman proportions. He switched from eyeglasses to contacts and got a new haircut. Suddenly, he was popular.

Bas started to compete in track and field, like his father had, and excelled in the high and long jumps. “I wanted to be the Dutch Bruce Jenner — that was my goal,” he said. “He was my hero.” However, years of cortisone injections (sometimes 20 in one day) caused tendonitis in his knee joints and he’d have to stop for weeks after a track meet.

When he graduated at 16, Bas entered culinary school, studied French cuisine for three years, then began to work in a restaurant. Once he turned 21, he left his parents’ home and immediately re-enrolled in Tae Kwon Do and added karate, then Thai boxing.

Rutten was ill-prepared for his first Thai boxing class and kept dropping his hands, exposing his body to the first kick he’d ever taken to his liver area — a move he would someday become popular for. He went home that night and stood in the mirror with his hands raised properly for hours, then returned the next day and cleaned out 80 percent of the gym.

“They thought I had tricked them [the day before], but I’d spent four hours in front of the mirror with my hands up,” said Rutten, who began competing on the local circuit six weeks later.

Rutten quickly collected 14 knockout wins, and fell into modeling in his spare time, posing for advertisements and catalogs. When he couldn’t be bothered to fuss with his hair anymore, he had a barber shave it all off, which would become his signature look.

When he lost his next two fights, due in part to his boozy lifestyle, Rutten accepted an offer to join a martial arts comedy show that performed during the competitions’ intermissions. With the troupe, he traveled through Holland and France, entertaining audiences of 6,000 or more with acrobatic feats. When the group performed in nightclubs, Rutten would spot where he wanted to be thrown in the air, so he wouldn’t hit the hanging lights. During one of these shows, Rutten was scouted by Chris Dolman, a champion martial artist who’d won a title in RINGS, a pioneering MMA organization.

Training for RINGS, Rutten, now 28 years old, was exposed to submission fighting for the first time. He was roughed up so bad in his first class, he had to pull over on the side of the road because he couldn’t make the rest of the ride home.

But rather than quit, he confidently told his wife Karin that he’d get his revenge in six months. When he began competing in Pancrase in September 1993, five weeks before the UFC debuted in Denver, his submission game was a work in progress.

Rutten said he became so “obsessive compulsive” about learning chokes and locks, that he began submitting his wife in his sleep. He plastered his house with post-it notes that explained the moves and would meet friends at the gym in the middle of the night when a new submission idea popped into his head.

Japan’s Pancrase was another organization that allowed a mix of disciplines, though it asked that its fighters use open-handed head strikes and prohibited strikes altogether once the action hit the ground. Competitors also wore shin and foot guards that covered past their knee caps. Once Rutten found his legs in submissions, he was unstoppable. He became the King of Pancrase three times, and went 19 straight bouts without a loss (with one draw) until he left the promotion in 1998.

Rutten’s repertoire of high-flying antics, submissions and striking, along with his outgoing personality, had made him a international martial arts star. In late 1998, Rutten got the call he’d been waiting for to come to America.

An American Dream

“Bing! Dang! Bong! Bang!”

If one didn’t know any better, they’d think that an insane asylum escapee had slipped security and joined everyone on the floor of Axs TV’s Inside MMA set.

It’s only Bas, though, who uses the sounds effects right out of TV’s old Batman series in his conversational speech as effortlessly as he breathes. This is the inner dialogue that must go on in his head as he demonstrates combos or describes a fight as it unfolds — he’s just sharing it with us for added effect. And it works.

There’s a confident enthusiasm Rutten brings as co-host of the long-running weekly MMA news show, which launched on Mark Cuban’s formerly-named HDNet in 2007.

Rutten is a lightning rod on- and off-camera. He’ll segue off into a story about his former fighting days while the live cameras roll if it illustrates a point he’s trying to make. During the two-minute commercial breaks, Rutten will break into song in his thick Dutch accent and choppy English, happily butchering everything from opera to Coldplay.

Part of what makes Rutten so unpredictable on set is his preference of memorizing scripts rather than using the teleprompter. During live broadcasts, a producer stands between Rutten’s teleprompters and physically indicates which camera he should look into next because he’s not watching the indicator lights or reading the cues. The system seems to suit Rutten’s loose, improvisational style and makes for some of the show’s best moments when he veers off the road with his by-the-book sidekick Kenny Rice in tow.

Most importantly, Rutten is innately funny. Few commentators can find the comedy in bloodsport in such an endearing way like Rutten can.

When Rutten came to the States in 1998 fresh off his career in Pancrase, he had a good understanding of his comedic gifts. He knew he wanted to entertain like the way he’d made people laugh during his traveling shows because it had given him “a good feeling.”

Rutten had been invited to Los Angeles to participate in a martial arts seminar for the LAPD, but he was really there to plant roots. He’d decided he’d become an actor.

Rutten began taking classes privately and at the Beverly Hills Playhouse almost immediately. He also became an instructor at the Beverly Hills Jiu-jitsu Club, where Kevin James’ manager called looking for Rutten not three months into his move.

James, in his first year of The King of Queens and about to shoot to superstardom, had followed Rutten’s career in Pancrase and wanted train under him. A friendship quickly formed. James would help Rutten with little bit parts over the years, but Rutten was basically starting from square one.

“I thought martial arts was going to help me with my movies and TV stuff, but I realized it would not.,” said Rutten. “Nobody knew Pancrase, but the hardcores.”

The hardcores and UFC matchmaker John Perretti. Rutten fought only two times in the UFC, the latter a heavyweight championship bout against wrestler Kevin Randleman at UFC 20 and one of the most influential fights in the sport’s short history. Rutten vacated the UFC title not long after he’d won it, announcing his retirement.

On a trip to Japan to corner Mark Kerr for a bout in Pride Fighting Championships, Rutten’s next career move presented itself. Bas was sitting backstage prior to Kerr’s fight watching the other bouts on a closed-circuit TV, when Pride executives overheard his lively play-by-play commentary and offered him a tryout show with the promotion on the spot. Rutten called his first Pride event in May 2000 alongside Stephen Quadros.

“I was so green, I didn’t even know to bring a suit,” said Rutten. “Nobody told me to bring a suit, so that’s why we came up with those crazy openings [to Pride events]. The first time was me in shorts and a Hawaiian shirt.”

Over the next seven years, Rutten would provide play-by-play for some of the greatest fights of MMA’s golden era in Japan, featuring future legends like Fedor Emelianenko and Wanderlei Silva.

The Pride days were a crazy time for the fighters. Dream Stage Entertainment promoted Pride events as if it had a bottomless wallet, and fighters would leave Japan with tens of thousands of dollars stuffed in their socks to smuggle later past customs. After the extravagant shows, which drew crowds of 30 to 90,000 spectators, the fighters often retired to the Roppongi clubbing district for wild nights of drinking, and Rutten was always in the thick of it all.

“Nobody partied as hard as I did,” said Rutten.

Back in Los Angeles, Rutten’s acting career slowly gained traction. Rutten’s first on-camera role was on the short-lived TV series, 18 Wheels of Justice. Rutten was cast as a bank robber and dressed in a wig and sunglasses, but his nerves got the best of him.

“I started itching and sweating, my shades started sliding off my nose, and as soon as they put the camera in my face and said go, I asked what was my first line. I totally blanked on it. ”

Rutten heard the room collectively groan, but instead of caving to the pressure, he started yelling at the crew.

“I said, ‘I’m fucking dying over here. I’m trying to do this thing. You’re not helping right now,'” recalls Rutten. “Everybody started laughing and I started laughing and we got it done in the next shot.'”

Rutten would continue to get small roles and eventually caught the attention of a film director attending one of his training seminars, which landed him his first lead role in The Eliminator, a straight-to-DVD action flick. Rutten, who’d become a father to two daughters in the States, continued to accumulate precious screen time in independent film and TV roles.

“You want to be perfect at first, but then you let it go and get comfortable,” said Rutten of acting. “It’s like fighting or anything else in life. The more you do it, the more comfortable you get.”

In 2006, towards the end of Pride’s run, Rutten abruptly decided to quit drinking.

“I just woke up one day and I saw some bottles of wine and I thought, ‘Really? Did I just drink this all yesterday?’ I didn’t have a hangover and I didn’t think that was a good sign,” said Rutten, who didn’t want to become a liability to his employers.

A few months later, UFC promoters Zuffa LLC purchased Pride from DSE and effectively closed up shop in Japan. Rutten was out of a job, but his body of work with Pride made him a hot commodity for upstarts like the International Fight League and Cuban’s Inside MMA show. Rutten also fought one more time for the short-lived World Fighting Alliance (James worked his corner), finishing his career with 22 consecutive victories. Rutten loved the rush of being back in the cage, but knew it was really time to quit when it flared up the tendonitis in his knees.

“I remembered that feeling from the early days when I was 12,” said Rutten.

In 2010, James sent Rutten the script for Boom. Rutten thought he’d have a small role with maybe one scene tops, but as he read on, he realized James, a co-writer and producer on the project, had written him a full-fledged supporting role.

“My acting coach said to me, ‘This is the one. If you can pull this off, people are going to know you. This could be your ticket into the movies,'” said Rutten.

The role’s meatiness also signifies the faith that James has in Rutten that he’ll appeal to the masses. James sold Rutten to Sony Pictures, which was concerned that an ex-fighter might not be up to the challenge of a legitimate acting role, on the strength of Rutten’s past projects.

“I kept telling Bas that he was a natural at [acting] and he didn’t need to get punched in the face,” said James. “Bas brings his own personality to [the role]. He has great charisma and I’m happy that the world’s going to get to see it.”

Rutten has already been cited by critics for his “delightfully affable screen presence” in Boom, and the 47-year-old actor was recently signed by William Morris Endeavor, after the power agency pre-screened the film.

Seventeen years after he toasted to his future on a Santa Monica beach, Rutten is on the verge of realizing his own American dream and he can hardly believe it.

“You’re hoping and you’re praying, but it’s all about getting through,” said Rutten. “I really found out that it’s not easy and not many people are going to be there to give you a chance, but you have to keep believing that you’ll do it and you will.”

Mark DellaGrotte recalls ‘Here Comes the Boom’ experience, hopes for sequel

By Matt Erickson
February 9, 2013 12:05 pm

mark-dellagrotte.jpg

When Mark DellaGrotte first met Kevin James, he had no idea he would be starring in a movie with him six years later. That the movie would be MMA-based would have been even more of a stretch.

But after his experience filming “Here Comes the Boom,” the acclaimed MMA trainer knows one thing for certain: He’d do it all over again. Especially if there was interest in making a sequel.

DellaGrotte plays himself in the movie, which was in theaters this past fall and arrived on DVD and Blu-Ray earlier this week. The film stars James as a teacher who takes up MMA as a means of raising money to help save the school’s music program and the job of its director, played by Henry Winkler. Along the way, he also trains with a former fighter named Niko, played by Bas Rutten, and woos the school nurse (Salma Hayek).

But it’s DellaGrotte’s help as a trainer that starts to put James’ character Scott Voss over the top as a fighter. It’s a role DellaGrotte had no trouble playing since he had been playing that role for James in real life, training him at his Sityodtong muay Thai and MMA gym in Boston.

James and DellaGrotte met in 2006 when the trainer went to one of James’ standup shows in Las Vegas with Georges St-Pierre during taping of “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 4. James already had been training with Rutten. But a couple years later, with the germ of an idea for “Boom” already in James’ head, and a trip to the Boston area looming to film “Grown Ups” with pals Adam Sandler, Chris Rock, David Spade, Rob Schneider and Hayek, he knew he’d want some gym time during the shoot.

“As soon as Kevin showed up in Boston, it was on,” DellaGrotte told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com) earlier this week. “We were training probably five days a week, and he had plans to film ‘Here Comes the Boom.’ So he knew he was going to take about two years to get in shape. He really wanted to live the role. To his credit, he didn’t want to have Hollywood stunts and have doubles come in. You see a lot of Kevin’s roles, he does his own stunts – he’s very agile and athletic. But he learns fast and he lived the role. He dieted for those two years. He became a fan of Mark DellaGrotte and Sityodtong. We hit it off, and before you know it, the movie was starting filming.”

James’ character in “Grown Ups” at one point is seen on screen wearing a Team Sityodtong t-shirt from DellaGrotte’s gym – yet another indication to the MMA world that James was keen on this whole MMA thing.

Along with playing a crucial role helping James get ready for his part, in which James ultimately gets a short-notice fight in the UFC, DellaGrotte also as a sort of technical adviser on the film.

“The UFC’s motto is ‘As Real As It Gets,’ and the last thing Kevin wanted to do was misrepresent the brand and the sport and have funny things in the movie that aren’t real,” DellaGrotte said. “We shot a locker room scene where I was taping Kevin’s hands (for his UFC fight in Las Vegas) and there wasn’t a commissioner. I stopped the director (Frank Coraci) and I said, ‘Frank, this is wrong. There has to be a commissioner in here watching me wrap hands. There would never not be a person in a maroon jacket from the state of Nevada.’ So little details like that, I played an important role in the development of the movie.”

DellaGrotte said the fact that the movie filmed mostly in the Boston area for about four months was crucial for him. It allowed him to stay at home and continue running his gym without interruption. “I probably would’ve lost my gym and all my members if I would’ve had to get up and leave for four months,” he said.

So it was just about a perfect storm for DellaGrotte, who had a small part in James’ previous starring vehicle, “Zookeeper,” before starting “Boom.”

“I’m not shy in front of the camera – I’m a loudmouth from Boston and I like to talk, obviously,” he said. “So I had a great time filming it. What I enjoyed the most was I got to represent me, my brand and the sport I love. I got to meet cool people and I got to act. If I can do that again, sign me up anytime.”

And while there has been no official talk of a sequel to sign him up for, it might not be out of the question. After all, James character does get a shot in the UFC. And without spoiling the ending for those who haven’t picked up the DVD or Blu-Ray yet, there would be reason to believe that a feel-good story like his character would be asked back for another shot in the promotion.

So DellaGrotte remains hopeful, even though the training and dieting James put himself though might not have him itching to dive right back in very quickly.

“I am all about a sequel. I’m ready for a sequel to start filming tomorrow,” DellaGrotte said. “Kevin, on the other hand, I’m not sure. He put in a lot of time, effort, dedication – he lived that lifestyle for close to three years. He drank green shakes, he shed literally a human being (in weight). I’m not sure he wants to dive into the sequel right away.

“But I think he’s going to get bit by the bug like we all stay bitten and we’ll all go back and hopefully we’ll see him back in the octagon.”




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