WME's Hollywood-MMA Push: ‘Gossip Girl's’ Blake Lively to Star in MMA Action-Drama ‘Bruised’

By Jordan Breen May 15, 2017

Thought the trend of mixed martial arts-related dramas was dying out? Not if the Ultimate Fighting Championship's parent company William Morris Endeavor (WME) has something to say about it.

Monday, it was announced that “Gossip Girl” star Blake Lively would star in a forthcoming feature-length action-drama “Bruised.” The plot centers on an embattled single mother and former MMA fighter who must return to the cage for a final fight while trying to maintain custody of her son.

The film, set to be directed by Nick Cassavetes, is being shopped by production sales company Sierra Affinity ahead of the forthcoming Cannes Film Festival, which runs from May 17 to 28. The script, written by Michelle Rosenfarb, has already been pitched to potential foreign buyers in advance of the festival.

Beyond the MMA-related plot, “Bruised” has immediate connections to the UFC's new ownership group: Lively, who hit commercial and critical acclaim in 2016 with survival horror film “The Shallows,” which grossed $119.1 at the box office, and Cassavetes, best known for directing “John Q” and “The Notebook,” are both represented by WME.

Cassavetes was also scheduled to write and direct the reboot of 1989 Patrick Swayze hit “Road House,” which was set to star former UFC women's bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey in the leading role. While technically still listed as “in production,” the project has been put on the backburner indefinitely following Rousey's high-profile knockout losses to Holly Holm and Amanda Nunes.

WME and its subsidiary International Management Group (WME-IMG) led a group to purchase the UFC from Zuffa LLC, headed by Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta, for approximately $4 billion in July 2016.

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