Daniel Cormier is ready to add another job to his growing resume.
The UFC Hall of Famer is in talks to star in the upcoming TV adaptation of the mixed martial arts film Warrior from director Gavin O’Connor, who is developing the project for Lionsgate and Paramount+.
Cormier is being cast as one of the main combatants in the series alongside Jane the Virgin star Gina Rodriguez, who is being courted as one of four fighters being followed in the series.
O’Connor is developing the project where he’ll serve as showrunner while also directing the 10 episode series with Adair Cole also working as a co-showrunner and executive producer.
Released in 2011, Warrior told the story of two brothers — Tommy and Brendan Conlon — played by Tom Hardy and Joel Edgerton, who end up joining the same MMA tournament with hopes of winning the grand prize. The siblings end up matched against each other in the finals with their father Paddy (Nolte) coaching Tommy along the way.
The film received overwhelmingly positive reviews when it was released, which culminated in Nolte receiving a nomination for Best Supporting Actor for his role at the Academy Awards.
“Over the years, I’d been approached by Lionsgate to do Warrior as a TV series and I honestly was never interested,” O’Connor told Deadline. “Over the pandemic, I was in a different frame of mind and they said, “Someone came in with an interesting take, Adair Cole,” and I listened to it and liked it. There was some really interesting stuff in there. I started sketching out characters, expounding what he had and gene splicing things and I called him after the holidays and said, ‘I’m in. I think I want to do this.’ We started figuring out the characters. The thing I said to Adair and Lionsgate which wasn’t in the pitch, is that this is about the life fight.
“I didn’t want to make something on fighting in a cage. That wasn’t the movie I made, it’s about a life fight. We will have two women and two men, we’re going to follow them through 10 episodes and hook the audience into their journeys and they’re eventually going to face each other. Like in my movie, I tried to challenge the audience: Where are your loyalties? Where do your sympathies lie? Who are you rooting for? If I hook the audience into the stakes of each character’s life outside of the cage, what I call the life fight, then people are going to be invested in the stakes. That’s the heart and soul of the show.”
Back in 2020 when O’Connor was promoting his film The Way Back, which starred Ben Affleck, he spoke to MMA Fighting about what made Warrior such a compelling movie.
According to O’Connor, it all boiled down to authenticity and obviously he’s sticking to that formula by working with someone like Cormier on the TV version of Warrior.
“Verisimilitude is everything,” O’Connor said. “You could just smell it. I grew up playing sports my whole life so I can smell something that doesn’t feel real or honest.
“To me, I wanted to make my own love letter to the sport [of MMA] because I love it so much. I was just hoping that I didn’t fail everyday.”
O’Connor also revealed that Cormier’s character will be a recently retired fighter who captured both the heavyweight and light heavyweight titles but he’s now dealing with the fallout from losing his wife to cancer and being left as a single father facing huge debts from medical bills.
Of course, Cormier actually retired from the UFC in 2020 and since then he’s been working as a color commentator for the promotion while also working for ESPN as well as his own YouTube channel. Now he’ll add leading man to his accolades as one of the lead stars for the new Warrior adaptation.
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