If there’s one thing that Game of Thrones doesn’t shy away from, it’s combat. (If there are two things, it’s combat and ripping out the hearts of fans and stomping on them). It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, then, to learn that a number of actors on the show undergo extensive training in the off season to prepare them for the next season’s challenges. Even Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson, who plays The Mountain on the show, goes through additional training in between seasons.
The latest member of the Game of Thrones cast to spend extra time in the gym is Liam Cunningham. Cunningham plays world’s greatest wingman Ser Davos on the show, which may suggest that we’ll see Davos a bit more involved in the action in season 7.
Cunningham has been training with UFC coach John Kavanagh, and Kavanagh recently posted a video of him working with Cunningham on Instagram. The clip shows Cunningham ducking a blow before attempting a takedown; it’s unclear whether this is a specific maneuver he’s working on for the show or if it’s just part of a larger training regimen. Regardless, it gives fans reason to think that Davos might be a bit more hands-on in the battles to come in season 7 (assuming that he isn’t simply training to exact some promised revenge instead).
Off to teach Davos Seaworth unarmed combat in case he loses his sword. Seriously.— Coach Kavanagh (@John_Kavanagh) July 2, 2016
We will not stop until our enemies are crushed and their women lament! pic.twitter.com/dL16DrgaBw— Coach Kavanagh (@John_Kavanagh) July 2, 2016
This isn’t the first time that Kavanagh has worked with Game of Thrones cast members, either. He is most famously known as UFC fighter Conor McGregor’s coach, and video was released last year of McGregor sparring with The Mountain himself. It was an interesting bout, especially since Björnsson is so much larger than McGregor. Despite the size advantage, Björnsson had trouble keeping up with McGregor in the ring.
Ser Davos is a bit of an anomaly in Game of Thrones, given that he’s a fairly common man who is always surrounded by uncommon people and situations. He’s an unlikely diplomat, a simple man with no real drive for power, and a man who’s been front-and-center for some of the major movements in Westeros and lived to tell the tale. While some of his survival might be attributed to the luck of being in the right place at the right time, if Cunningham is training for unarmed combat then Davos’ luck might be running out.
Of course, the big question is just who (or what) Davos is going to get to use his new combat skills against. A lot of major players in the game of thrones are moving into what may be their final positions, so it’s hard to say whether Cunningham is training to fight soldiers or the frozen undead or possibly even something worse. All that we know so far is that it’s a long time until next spring.
Game of Thrones returns to HBO in spring 2017.