Just like MMA video games, films about the diverse fighting style are no longer just appealing to the martial arts community. With spectacular combat sequences, MMA films are attracting wide audiences from the US all the way to Latin America, which is experiencing increasing participation in the sport, says expert John Gonzales from MONEDEROSMART. So much so that late last year, Jorden Curran, the director of the International Mixed Martial Arts Federation, visited Mexico and Colombia to talk about MMA safety and regulation, both important aspects of building a global unified MMA network. Regardless of whether you are actively involved in the sport or just interested in different combat styles, MMA films can be a great escape from the daily grind. Ready or not, here is our list of some of the most popular MMA films.
Considered by many to the best MMA film of all time, the Warrior features a mix of action, drama and combat sequences that is guaranteed to entertain. The film sees two brothers battle it out both inside and outside the ring. A former fighter, Brendan Conlon, who now works as a physics teacher, is disciplined and strong-willed. Tommy Conlon, on the other hand, has just returned from the war in Iraq and is filled with rage. Both brothers sign up to compete in a tournament billed to feature some of the best MMA fighters in the world. Will the two brothers end up fighting each other in the cage?
Never Back Down
Although pretty predictable, Never Back Down is entertaining in a Karate Kid kind of way. Jack Tyler is a new kid in town who gets on the wrong side of the school bully. To better his social situation, Jack decides to seek the help of Jean Roqua who ends up training him in the art of MMA. The film ends with an MMA fight between Jack and the bully in cages composed of parked cars. Never Back Down has two sequels: Never Back Down 2: The Beatdown and Never Back Down: No Surrender.
Sometimes fate forces you to do things you might not necessarily want to. This is exactly what happens to Mike Terry, a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu master who is forced to delve into the world of prize fighting to repay a debt. After multiple twists and turns, Mike finds out that the fights are being fixed by promoters to ensure winning bets. One of the film’s final scenes shows Mike breaking into a fighting after incapacitating several security guards to show the match-fixing conspirators what he is all about.
A documentary, rather than a feature film, Fightville tells the story of MMA hopefuls from Louisiana and their journey to “making it big.” From talking to family members—spouses, children and parents—to joining the MMA prospects at their training sessions, the movie showcases the day-to-day lives of professional MMA fighters. While Fightville may not be the ideal choice for the average viewer, it is a powerful insight into the harsh realities of the world of MMA.
Also entitled Hamill, this biography tells the story of Matt Hamill, a deaf UFC fighter, who featured on the third season of the reality TV series The Ultimate Fighter. The film follows Hamill’s journey to winning an NCAA championship as a wrestler—the first deaf contestant to achieve this—as well as his subsequent UFC success. Even though it is about combat, the Hammer is suitable for the whole family.