Mark DellaGrotte, owner and head coach of Sityodtong’s Muay Thai-MMA in Boston, MA, has been known as the honorific “Kru Mark” and hopes to never be called “Hollywood” now that he’s starring alongside Kevin James in the upcoming movie “Here Comes the Boom” which releases in theatres on Friday, October 12th. DellaGrotte plays himself with James portraying a teacher who decides to fight MMA to raise money for his school.
For DellaGrotte, the experience of working on his second feature film with James was intense and close to his heart being that this film aimed to put Mixed Martial Arts into the mainstream in a way that it hasn’t been before. DellaGrotte revealed to MMA Fight Corner on Wednesday night, just how much effort went into making the film as realistic. He also credited actor Kevin James for dedicating and submersing himself into MMA training to make the experience truly translate to the masses.
“That’s one thing that I truly admire about Kevin. I’ve put fighters through 3 month camps, 4 month camps, I’ve done extensive camps with fighters that needed more preparation. Kevin put in like two years to make this film. That’s ridiculous. In terms of getting him ready for the film and what he had to go through, went far beyond most of any high level fighter that I’ve ever worked with. he had nutrionists, he had a whole slew of strength and conditioning coaches, mitt work, pad work. It was crazy I truly was impressed with what Kevin had to put in and what he came out with in the end product,” DellaGrotte raved.
“One thing about this movie is it’s going to come of very accurately depicted. There’s one thing that Kevin wanted and that Zuffa wanted in the making of this movie was for it to be real, as real as it gets so to say. Kevin wanted to make sure that he lived the role, he played the role and that everything in the movie from the boxing commissioner, getting the hands wrapped with deputies being in the room and just the entrance and everything how it went,” DellaGrotte continued. “There was a lot of homework that was done so to say, when it came down to making this movie. Kevin put the time, effort and energy into living the role. And not only playing the role, but like I said, living the role and he pulled it off man. It was a smash.”
Working on the set with MMA legend, Bas Rutten and actor Henry Winkler who starred as “The Fonz” in the TV hit Happy Days was a dream come true for Mark. “He’s a legend,” he said of Bas Rutten. “To actually have worked with someone like Bas Rutten and to experience his trials and tribulations and how he played a role in the development of the film and how much he played a role in getting Kevin ready for the movie itself, and how long they worked together, but the Fonz. Who didn’t watch ‘Happy Days’?” DellaGrotte said of the hit that aired from 1974-1984. “I grew up watching Happy Days. I grew up watching the Fonz and to actually play a role in a movie next to the Fonz and actually experience being with him everyday and just when the camera’s not rolling, listening to the stories of who he was and how he became who he is today. It was amazing. It was a true honor to work with not only legends of the sport of mixed martial arts, but legends of the film industry. That was crazy to me. It was a surreal experience.”
Other MMA fighters and personalities that were featured in the film included referee Herb Dean, commentators Joe Rogan and Mike Goldberg and fighters, Mark Munoz and Jason “Mayhem” Miller, just to name a few. On Monday, Jason “Mayhem” Miller appeared on Ariel Helwani’s show, The MMA Hour. Mayhem showed up in character as ‘Lucky’ Patrick Murphy from the movie and never broke character during the interview and ended up exiting the show in dramatic fashion. Despite whatever that interview was, DellaGrotte spoke on Miller’s behavior and said no matter what idiosyncrasies he may have exhibited, or what Mayhem’s been through in his life lately, he won’t be down for long.
After all, his nickname is “Mayhem” DellaGrotte pointed out. “He lives up to it man, he’s crazy, he’s outgoing. But you know what? I truly believe that Jason Mayhem Miller has a good spirit and a good heart. When he wants to be he’s focused, he’s dedicated. He played a huge role, not only in training Kevin for this film, but his performance in the movie…was unsurpassed. He did a great job. I think he’s had a lot of times that he’s been up and down in his life and his career as a fighter. But I know Jason, and I know the type of person he is, and somebody like that eventually rises to the top. I think Jason is on the path to success and if he pursues it, he’ll get that.”
Now that he has another movie under his belt, his first was The Zookeeper also starring James, DellaGrotte promised he’s not leaving for the glitz and glamour of the movie industry, or Hollywood’s red carpets anytime soon.
“You can take DellaGrotte out of Boston, but you can’t take the Boston out of DellaGrotte. I’m a fight trainer. I’m a fan of the sport. I’m a passionate believer. I really believe that it’s things like this that maybe help me get to my next level personally. But, my true message is getting the sport out there and getting that message out there that MMA’s cool and MMA’s acceptable to Kevin James’ fans and soccer moms and to everybody. I think the message is a lot bigger than what I’m doing right now. I’m a real believer in that. Guys like Dana White, Lorenzo Fertitta, Frank Fertitta these guys push the sport, and not their brand, but just push the sport into everybody’s TV at home.”
UFC 153 is the next fight that will be up in people’s homes on October 13th and features Anderson Silva vs Stephan Bonnar in the main event. Bonnar, “The American Psycho”, has spent time training with DellaGrotte in the past, but not for this fight in Brazil. Regardless, DellaGrotte admitted he’ll be rooting for Stephan Bonnar to pull off the upset and then successfully escape his opponent’s home country.
“I’m not concerned with Stephan fighting Anderson. I’m most concerned with Stephan Bonnar getting out of Brazil alive. It’s crazy how do you beat Stephan Bonnar? He’s got a chin he doesn’t get knocked out, he doesn’t get submitted, you’re fighting him at 205 in a 3-round bout in your hometown. He’s not psycho, he’s the “American Psycho” and he lives to that image. He’s gonna go for it man. It potentially could be a huge upset. It’s a great opportunity for Stephan because a lot of people are counting him out of this fight, they’re calling him the gatekeeper, they’re calling him things like this is just a stepping stone for Anderson, nonsense. How do you beat Stephan Bonnar? You can’t knock him out, you can’t submit him, the guy’s a juggernaut. He keeps coming man. He’s a friend of mine and I’m not just saying that because I believe in him, but I believe stylistically it’s a nightmare for Anderson. And to think that it’s going to happen in his hometown, again my only concern is that he gets out of Brazil alive.”
Here Comes the Boom with Mark DellaGrotte will release in theaters on October 12th.