Mixed martial arts (MMA) is the fastest rising sport that’s very popular all across the world. No matter if you are a combat sports fan or not, you’ve likely heard about cage fighting and how exciting it is. Of course, the film industry has also been following this rise with many action movies based on MMA.
But as in any film genre, there have been some bad MMA based movies that will just waste your time. Or even worse, these movies can give you a wrong idea of what MMA actually is. That said, we’ve made a decision to bring you the best MMA based films worth your time. No matter if you are an MMA fan or not, there’s something for anyone on our list.
If you are looking for some great MMA movie to get entertained, be sure to check our list below. Some of these movies are so thrilling to watch that can even inspire you to start training MMA or at least working out.
11. The Hammer (2010)
“The Hammer” is a very inspiring movie that shows you anything is possible as long as you believe in it. It focuses on the true story of former UFC fighter Matt Hamill who was the first deaf MMA fighter. Some fans can also recall Matt for taking part in the third season of “The Ultimate Fighter Show”.
The film features Hamill’s life story and struggles he had to face while growing up as a deaf child. But this didn’t stop him from winning the NCAA wrestling championship and competing in the best MMA promotion, UFC. What’s more, Matt had a decent UFC career, and he retired as one of the fan-favorite fighters.
The Hammer is not your regular fighting movie full of blood and fighting action. It is one of those movies that will force you to move off your couch and do something with your life.
10. Here Comes The Boom (2012)
This is an MMA based comedy starring Kevin James who plays a high school biology teacher wanting to become a real MMA fighter. With the help of the former UFC champ, Bas Rutten, Kevin James fights in MMA matches to raise money for the school he is working at.
You can also spot cameo appearances by Joe Rogan and UFC announcer Bruce Buffer. Of course, it also includes famous UFC fighters such as Chael Sonnen and Wanderlei Silva.
It’s worth bringing up that the leading actor, Kevin James, is a huge fan of martial arts. He was preparing for this role with the famous MMA coach Rafael Cordeiro. James loved it so much that he continued to train Muay Thai even after the movie.
Although this movie is not about huge drama or bloody action; it is definitely worth your time. It’s one of those movies you can watch with your family and have a good laugh.
9. Undisputed 3 (2010)
It’s fair to say that “Undisputed 3” is a movie that offers the best fighting scenes out of all other movies on our list. The Undisputed series includes four parts. And in our opinion, the third one offers the best MMA fighting action. One of the reasons why this movie includes such great fighting scenes is because most of the actors are real martial artists.
In the movie, eight fighters compete for their freedom in a fighting tournament held in the notorious prison located in Georgia. And no matter if you are a fan of MMA or not, you will certainly hold your breath during some of the fighting scenes. The execution of the MMA techniques in this movie is simply amazing.
Overall, Undisputed 3 is a great movie to watch, and be sure to check the other three from the series.
8. Bloodsport (1988)
“Bloodsport” is a real martial arts classic from the 80s when very few people knew what MMA is. The movie tells the true story of Frank Dux who was a skilled martial artist and author. It consists of some great fighting scenes and displays of skills. Also, the film is well balanced between the slow drama scenes and fast action.
In the movie, Dux takes part in the “Kumite” tournament where fighters from various combat styles fight against each other. Although this is a martial arts movie, Kumite resembles the modern-day MMA fighting as it allows fighters to use any martial arts style to beat the rival.
The leading actor is Jean Claude Van Damme, and this was the starting role that made him famous. As always, Van Damme did a great job of showcasing his athletic abilities and talent for acting.
7. The Hurt Business (2016)
This is a great documentary movie if you are looking to learn more about the history of mainstream MMA. And the movie also shows you the secrets behind the sports amazing rise. The film features UFC stars like Ronda Rousey and Jon Jones and other famous MMA faces.
This movie is well researched and constructed. As a result, both MMA fans and regular people can learn a lot from it since it includes much unique info you’ve like never heard of. For instance, it gives you a detailed insight into the dangers of the sport and how retired fighters deal with brain traumas. This is something you can’t hear or see that often in other movies and TV shows about MMA.
What’s interesting, however, is that the film came out the same year the UFC got sold for $4 billion dollars. So be sure to watch it if you want to find out why somebody would pay so much money for one MMA promotion.
Also, the director Vlad Yudin did a great job of going into the emotional core of the sport. The movie reveals the personal side of fighters and problems they have to go through that the public doesn’t get to see such as depression and financial struggles.
6. Never Back Down (2008)
This film on its own has been responsible for thousands of hothead teens joining MMA academies around the world. From hard workouts and intense fights to the great soundtracks, everything in this movie is there to hook you on MMA. This movie had a huge impact on young people and many see it as an MMA version of the legendary “Karate Kid”.
The story in the movie is a bit cliché. It follows the life of a college student named Jake who joins MMA to learn how to defend against the bullies and control his aggression. Jake manages to overcome personal issues with hard work and discipline in the MMA gym. But, he has to face the bullies in the illegal MMA tournaments to stop them once and for all.
You have to be realistic about this movie as it was never meant to win an Oscar. It is a great one for all young people since it sends a lot of positive messages. For instance, it’s very inspiring because it shows how personal struggles can be overcome with the hard work in the MMA gym.
The film was so successful that they filmed the second part in 2011 and the third part in 2016. However, in our opinion, the first one is the best.
5. Warrior (2011)
“Warrior” is, perhaps, the most popular MMA based movie. It’s one of the rare fighting films that are very popular among non-fight fans too. This is mainly because it presents MMA fighters as skilled fighters who are like everyday people. And the movie also features famous actors like Tom Hardy.
Warrior is a film that tells the story of two brothers both competing in the same MMA tournament for a $5 million dollar prize. The movie includes a lot of drama as both brothers have to face many family issues from the past.
Further, fighting scenes looks very authentic. This is because actors like Hardy have actually spent a lot of time preparing for the fight scenes training with MMA coaches. So Hardy has done a really good job portraying himself as an MMA fighter as a result.
Also, Warrior is a great movie for people who know nothing about the sport. It gives you a great look at what MMA stands for.
4. Fightville (2011)
Fightville is a much-underrated documentary that follows the underground MMA scene. The film focuses on a group of MMA fighters with their troubled backgrounds. And it explores why they have decided to join MMA and what they want to achieve.
This group of talented MMA fighters works their way up in the mixed martial arts world. And one of those fighters is the former UFC interim champ, Dustin Poirier. I mean, it’s really emotional watching Dustin fighting on a regional circuit and dreaming about fighting in the UFC. It gives me chills every time I hear Dustin speaking about it.
I truly believe this is a highly underrated MMA film. The directors have done a great job of giving us an insight into how the regional MMA scene looks like and from where all those UFC talents come from. If you consider yourself to be a fan of this game, you simply have to watch “Fightville”.
3. Smashing Machine (2002)
If you want to learn more about what it takes to be an MMA fighter, don’t look any further from “Smashing Machine”. This film goes deep into the private world of the former UFC fighter Mark Kerr. It will give you the best insight into what MMA fighters go through to succeed and how their world looks like. It is perhaps the best MMA documentary movie ever filmed.
This movie will get you behind the closed doors of Mark’s life and help you realize why not every person can be a fighter. It shows you how much fighters have to train, how dedicated they are, and what they have to sacrifice to succeed.
Also, this movie is not filmed to present MMA fighter in a positive manner only. It is very raw and shows you the ugly side of MMA as well. The main goal of the movie was to present fighters as humans who also make mistakes.
The movie includes everything from Mark’s addiction to drugs to the relationship problems with his girlfriend. And at the same time, Mark needs to stay professional and prepare for the upcoming MMA event in Japan.
The movie does a great job showing the contrast between fame and the dark side of Mark Kerr’s life. It is one of the best movies out there simply because it shows that pro-MMA fighters like Mark are no different than anyone else.
2. Choke (1999)
“Choke” is one of the best, if not the best BJJ documentary out there. The film gives us an insight into the life of perhaps the best BJJ fighter in MMA, Rickson Gracie. The movie follows Rickson as he prepares to defend his Vale Tudo title in 1995 Japan Open. At the time, Vale Tudo was the best MMA promotion in the world and the home of the elite fighters.
But the charisma and eloquence of Rickson Gracie is something that will keep your attention and force you to rewind some of the scenes many times. This is because the film gives you a rare glimpse into the mind of Rickson Gracie as he prepares for his fights.
After watching this movie, you will know what separated Rickson from all the rest and why he was such a good fighter. And it will certainly inspire you to train BJJ or at least learn more about it.
If we put a BJJ story to the side, “Choke” is also a great insight into what MMA events looked like in the beginnings, long before MMA became a mainstream sport. And it will help any new fan of MMA sport realize why BJJ is so effective in MMA. The movie also includes some amazing footage of Rickson’s breathing techniques.
You just can’t call yourself an MMA or grappling fan without watching this movie.
1. Enter The Dragon (1973)
Even though Bruce Lee wasn’t an MMA fighter, not including any of his movies on this list would simply be wrong. And let’s be real; the famous movie “Enter the Dragon” has an MMA tone all over it.
In the opening scenes, Lee competes in a sort of MMA match. He is wearing open finger gloves which were a new thing back then. In fact, many pros believe these gloves were an inspiration for the creation of modern MMA gloves that came a few decades later.
Also, you can see Lee using many MMA techniques in the movie. For instance, he ended up winning one fight by placing an armlock submission. This is a BJJ technique often used in MMA.
Bruce Lee is often called the father of MMA because he believed that no one style is the best. He was the first martial artist to realize that a fighter must learn other types of fighting styles to become a complete fighter.
“Adapt what is useful, reject what is useless, and add what is specifically your own.”Bruce Lee
This famous quote resembles the modern-day MMA. In this movie, Lee is mixing his Kung Fu base with other fighting styles such as BJJ to beat his rivals, which makes him a true MMA fighter in the movie.
The movie itself is a piece of art and perhaps Lee’s finest performance. It was released shortly after Lee’s sudden death in 1973. Perhaps no other film is more responsible for inspiring people to become martial artists than this film.