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The 8 Best MMA Documentaries Every Fan Needs to Watch

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Showtime

MMA was already one of the fastest-growing sports in the world–as much as it’s a sport at all–but the UFC being one of the first leagues to get going during this pandemic and give people a taste of sports again only helped it. Though MMA hasn’t always been in the mainstream and on ESPN the way it is now, it has always had a loyal set of fans and an audience that loves it unconditionally. Thanks to that fanbase, there have been great MMA documentaries for quite a while now.

 

We made a list of our favorite eight, and you can check it out below, in no particular order.

1. 'Renzo Gracie: Legacy'

Released in 2008 and directed by Gethin Aldous, this documentary takes you through the life and career of the legendary Renzo Gracie, one of the most iconic members of the Gracie family, who are absolute royalty in MMA. If you want to learn about the whole family, Legacy has you covered there, but where it shines is detailing Renzo’s rise because it was shot over a decade by a couple of different people. MMA’s evolution is also covered pretty well.

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2. 'Like Water'

Though the name of this documentary suggests that it’s about Bruce Lee, it’s another fight legend that’s the focus of Like Water. This one follows Anderson Silva from his controversial fight with Demian Maia at UFC 112 to after his huge first fight with Chael Sonnen. It’s probably the most memorable stretch of his career considering the backlash he got in the Maia fight for not finishing him and how close Sonnen came to killing the king. This documentary also gives viewers a great look at Anderson outside of the cage as a family man.

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3. 'Fightville'

This film is one of the more underrated MMA documentaries around. Still, as Dustin Poirier continues to grow into one of the better lightweights, Fightville will also rise in popularity. It covers him, as well as other fighters from Louisiana, like Tim Credeur, while they try to come up in MMA. It’s proper documentation of what being a fighter trying to make s like and uses the fighters mentioned above to achieve that goal.

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4. 'Once I Was A Champion'

Evan Tanner is not a name that any casual MMA fan would probably know, but in MMA, he’s very well known. In 2005 he became the UFC’s middleweight champion, and though he lost the title in his next fight, he cemented his name in history with the win, hence the name of the documentary. Unfortunately, he passed away in 2008. Once I Was A Champion takes an honest look at his life and is a great way to commemorate him and his legacy in the sport.

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5. 'The Smashing Machine: The Life & Times Of Extreme Fighter Mark Kerr'

Last year at a conference that took place before the Masvidal vs. Diaz weigh-ins, The Rock announced that he was going to be playing Mark Kerr in an upcoming film. It didn’t get much reception from the fans in attendance, unfortunately, but MMA fans watching worldwide were intrigued. Mark Kerr’s battles with addiction have been publicized, and a lot of that comes from this documentary that will undoubtedly inspire The Rock’s film whenever that happens.

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6. 'Religion Of Sports: Alpha & Omega'

This doc is one episode as part of a larger docu-series, but watching it on its own works as a documentary in and of itself. In episode three of Season one, it follows Cat Zingano in her recovery after a 15-month layoff and her return to the cage at UFC 200, where she fought Julianna Peña. It’s a good look at an MMA fighter outside of the cage when there are obstacles in their way. It is also one of the few looks at a woman in MMA on this kind of stage.

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7. 'Fighting For A Generation: 20 Years Of The UFC'

Released in 2013, 20 years on from UFC 1 in 1993, Fighting For A Generation: 20 Years Of The UFC documents what fighting for over two decades in the business looks like. Dozens of interviews were done for the documentary, and it takes a good look at a good range of the company’s history and is a must-watch for any fans of the sport whether you’ve been following since the start or you’re just getting into it.

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8. 'B.J. Penn–90 Days'

B.J. Penn is an absolute legend in MMA–don’t let his recent run of losses fool you. In his prime, few were better than the Hawaiian, and a few months of his career were documented in 90 Days. It covers B.J. as he trains to fight Georges St-Pierre for the second time in an attempt to recapture the UFC welterweight title and puts you right back in that old school MMA world.

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