Celebrities Who Train MMA
These celebs have some serious combat skills.
It’s no secret that most Hollywood celebrities, from singers to movie and TV stars, make fitness a top priority. But how they keep their bodies fit differs widely, from following specific diets to experimenting with various kinds of workouts. Whether prepping for a certain role or simply trying to stay in shape, these famous figures are particularly big fans of mixed martial arts — which means, yes, they have some serious fighting skills.
So who are some stars that you definitely don’t want to mess with? Here are the stars who have undergone MMA training:
You know Ed O’ Neil as the patriarch of the Pritchett family on “Modern Family,” but off-screen, his friends know him as a boxing and martial-arts aficionado. The actor started taking Brazilian jiu-jitsu classes at age 42 at a friend’s suggestion, and he quickly became hooked. He trains with jiujitsu Grand Master Rorion Gracie and has a close relationship with the Gracies, a prominent martial-arts family known for their development of modern jiujitsu.
Guy Ritchie has also had a long journey with Brazilian jiu-jitsu. The actor, who has a black belt, has been training for more than 20 years, having studied under renowned instructor Mauricio Gomes and his son, Roger Gracie. “You always come back to it,” Ritchie said of his training in a short interview with Gracie. “If you leave for a bit and come back, you go, ‘I’m not sure why we ever stopped doing this. Why did we ever give it a break?’”
The singer has been a devoted MMA trainee for years, often posting videos of her sessions on Instagram. “I first got into jiujitsu because I loved watching people grapple,” Demi Lovato told People magazine in 2017. “I think it’s really cool to learn something that helps you with self-defense.”
And clearly, she knows how to throw a punch. Lovato put her abilities on display this March when she posted an Instagram video revealing she had knocked out her trainer’s tooth during a session.
Ashton Kutcher has also been training in jiu-jitsu for years. The actor studies under Rigan Machado, an 8th degree red and black belt and cousin to the Gracie family. In 2014, Kutcher was promoted to purple belt under Machado’s tutelage. The trainer is apparently so confident in his student’s abilities, he once told TMZ that he would bet on Kutcher to win against UGC champion Conor McGregor in a match.
Another one of Richan Machado’s celebrity clients: Charlie Hunnam. The actor began learning jiu-jitsu several years ago and says he has a fellow Hollywood star to thank for his introduction to the sport: Guy Ritchie. Ritchie directed Hunnam in 2017’s “King Arthur,” and the two began training together. In 2018, he got his blue belt, as posted about by Machado on his Instagram page.
Fans may have noticed a major change in Wiz Khalifa’s physique while he was promoting his music last summer. The rapper put on 35 pounds of muscle after discovering a passion for mixed martial arts. Khalifa says he was inspired to learn how to fight because he was tired of losing fights to his cousins, who are trained in jiu-jitsu. He trained with Rigan Machado for a couple of months before discovering muy Thai.
“That’s when my mind changed to like, ‘OK, this is what I want to do.’ I like the conditioning. I like the stand-up aspect of it. I like the footwork,” Khalifa told the Bleacher Report of his training.
As a Hollywood action star with roles in “Jurassic World” and the Marvel Cinematic universe, Chris Pratt has to stay in fighting shape. MMA training helps him do so, although he’s not just a trainee but a big fan. The actor is often spotted at Bellator events, most recently cheering on MMA fighter Adel Kyokushin Altamimi. The two met while training at the same gym in Los Angeles and have since become close friends.
It’s no surprise that Gisele Bundchen doesn’t skimp on her workouts. The supermodel has spoken about her devotion to MMA as a means of staying in shape. In the past, she’s shared videos of her training with Japanese MMA fighter Tateki Matsuda, writing of the workout, “One of the most fun ways to release stress.”
Jennifer Garner had to develop some MMA skills in preparation for her movie “Peppermint.” The film, about a mother seeking justice after her husband and daughter were killed in a drive-by shooting, required a lot of physical training. “I’ve been training for a while on this. I did MMA skills, gun skills, knife skills. It was the connection to the physical that made me kind of understand her fight for her daughter,” Garner told People of the role.
During a 2017 appearance on “The Joe Rogan Experience,” Scott Eastwood revealed that late actor Paul Walker first introduced him to jiu-jitsu. “One of my good pals that passed away got me into jiu-jitsu, Paul Walker. He got me into it 6 years ago, maybe more now,” he said, adding, “He got me involved. That’s another thing that’s great over there, you know you really realize jits is like the ultimate humbling.”
Halle Berry has recently started MMA training in order to prepare for her upcoming movie “Bruised.” In the film, the actress will play disgraced MMA fighter Jackie “Justice,” who has to re-enter the ring after her son comes back into her life. To prepare for the role, Berry has been training with former UFC women’s featherweight titleholder Cris Cyborg and UFC featherweight contender Brian Ortega, the latter of whom she posted about on Twitter.
All about this #ManCrushMonday, @BrianTcity – the #1 @UFC ranked featherweight 👊🏾! So grateful he said yes to training with me in preparation for #BruisedTheMovie, and cannot wait to share what we cook up together 🔥 pic.twitter.com/bPNTggc9SM
— Halle Berry (@halleberry) February 25, 2019
Tom Hardy has undergone intense training for multiple film roles, from Bane in “The Dark Knight Rises” to an MMA fighter in “Warrior” to, most recently, Eddie Brock in “Venom.” According to Men’s Journal, Hardy prepared for the role by training in mixed martial arts, boxing and jiu-jitsu up to five times per week with pro-MMA fighters Nathan Jones and Dan “Villi” Edwards. Jones shared glimpses of his training on Instagram, as did the gym at which Hardy trained at, Richmond Fitness Club.
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Its been great helping Tom Hardy @tomhardydotorg out in prep for his role in Venom. He is getting better everyday. Here we are putting combos and defensive movement into practice. #ThatSeason #BagAndTag #INtheBAG #TomHardy #Training #Striking #ukmma #british #actor #film #role #London #like4like #followme #work #sport #hardwork #boxing #kickboxing #marvel #vemon #flow #combos #skills #box #punch #kick #eddiebrock #spiderman #coach
Given his propensity for action roles, it’s no surprise that Jason Statham has spent years undergoing training in everything from jiu-jitsu to kickboxing to muay Thai and other forms of martial arts. The actor reportedly started training with Guy Ritchie many years ago and has continued to maintain the practice in order to stay in shape. His skills likely also come in handy when the star is performing his own stunts in movies like “The Transporter.”
Kelly Slater may be known for his surfing skills, but he also has a serious passion for jiujitsu. The pro athlete has been training for many years and often touts the benefits of the practice. He’s even maintained in interviews that parents should put their kids in jiu-jitsu before any other sports.
To prepare for her role in “Atomic Blonde,” Charlize Theron had to get physically prepared. The actress says she put in four hours of fighting and martial-arts training every day for nearly three months. The result: By the time cameras started rolling, she was so prepared that the director and choreographers on the film allowed her to execute most of the moves on her own rather than use a stunt double.
“Charlize did 98 percent of her own action including fighting, running and those kinds of things,” stunt coordinator Sam Hargrave told the Hollywood Reporter.
The star of “The Passage” also trains in martial arts in order to stay active and fit. The actor has a particular love for jiujitsu. He recently delighted MMA and “Saved By the Bell” fans alike by posting a photo of him and former co-star Mario Lopez after a roll.
— Mark-Paul Gosselaar (@MPG) January 22, 2019
Lopez is an avid fan of martial arts, who, like many fellow Hollywood stars, often trains as part of his workouts. He also shared footage of his and Gosselaar’s shared love of jiujitsu. “Good times… Good roll,” he wrote in the caption on Twitter.
— Mario Lopez (@MarioLopezExtra) January 22, 2019
During her 20 years with Victoria’s Secret, Adriana Lima always stayed in tip-top shape. But how she did it was never a secret; the Brazilian supermodel is an avid and vocal proponent of boxing and martial arts training. She’s been committed to this type of workout for so long that even actual fighters, like UFC’s Joanna Jedrzejczyk, have praised her skills.
The former “Dancing With the Stars” pro may be a ballroom expert, but dancing isn’t the only way he stays fit. He also takes on a variety of workouts, including boxing and martial-arts training. The dancer has posted about his MMA workouts on social media in the past and says his trainer once told him, “If you can dance, you can fight.”
It takes a lot of work to play Marvel’s Norse god of thunder. To stay fit for his role as Thor, which he’s played since 2011, Chris Hemsworth follows a regimented workout, including mixed martial arts, weightlifting, boxing and other strength training. Fitness is such a big part of his life that he and wife Elsa Pataky recently released their own training app, Centr.
The “Legends of Tomorrow” star has some serious martial-arts skills. She has trained in muay Thai, taekwondo and Krav Maga and is a practitioner of tricking, a training discipline that combines kicks with flips. To play Sara Lance, aka White Canary, on the superhero series, she also undergoes weapons training. “The weapons training adds authenticity,” the actress told Muscle & Fitness of her character. “You [think], ‘Yeah, she could kill a few people.’”
Nick Jonas has come a long way from his scrawny teenage days on the Disney channel. The singer put both his acting chops and his fighting skills to work when he starred in DirecTV’s MMA series, “Kingdom.” While prepping for the role, Jonas got in fighting shape by undergoing an MMA boot camp with former UFC champ Joe “Daddy” Stevenson, who also worked as a fight choreographer and on-set consultant on the series.
Like several of the other names on this list, Cara Delevingne underwent martial-arts training for a role. While preparing to star in the upcoming movie “Life in a Year,” the model-actress learned some new fight moves. Delevingne, who is also a Puma spokesperson, shared a video of her training on Instagram, writing, “Thank you so much @mrtialsmarts.toronto for showing me how to protect myself.”
You can’t become Wonder Woman overnight, as Gal Gadot learned firsthand. To play the Amazonian warrior, the actress underwent six months of grueling physical preparation. She studied Kung Fu, kickboxing, jiu-jitsu and a variety of other martial arts for the role, along with weapons training, horseback riding and additional cardio workouts. No wonder those fight scenes looked so intense!
Having starred in action-oriented TV shows and movies like “Homeland” and “Hitman,” Rupert Friend has had to sharpen his fighting skills. For his starring role in the latter, the actor underwent extensive physical training in martial arts and other forms of fitness. According to USA Today, he studied Krav Maga, trained with a world-champion boxer and learned Filipino knife-fighting and judo.