The 14 Best MMA Documentaries

I picked docs on the Gracies, McGregor, Jake Paul and a whole lot more.


1) Jiu Jitsu vs. The World

Dan Lewis’s “Jiu Jitsu vs. The World,” released on May 3, 2016, is a 94-minute deep dive into the gritty, sweaty world of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ).

We start in Rio de Janeiro’s favelas. Kids train on worn mats, eyes shining with determination. Next, we’re in New York City’s polished gyms. Professionals and amateurs alike grapple, sweat dripping, minds focused.

Meet Renzo Gracie, a BJJ legend. He talks about the sport’s evolution and its critical role in Mixed Martial Arts (MMA). Marcelo Garcia, another icon, shares training philosophies. But it’s not just about big names. You’ll see Luis, a school teacher from Texas, rolling after class. Maria, a nurse in Chicago, balancing shifts and training.

Lewis’s camera captures raw, unfiltered moments. A tournament in Los Angeles—hundreds competing, hearts pounding. A small gym in Tokyo—quiet, intense practice. Each scene shows BJJ’s universal appeal.

Specifics hit you hard. The grip of a gi, the sound of a mat slap, the focus in a fighter’s eyes. Techniques discussed—guard passes, submissions, escapes. Real talk from real people.

The film also connects BJJ’s roots to its impact on MMA. Fighters like Royce Gracie showed the world the effectiveness of BJJ in the early UFC days. This sport isn’t just training—it’s the backbone of many MMA fighters’ skill sets.

“Jiu Jitsu vs. The World” isn’t just a film. It’s a look at a global community bound by sweat and respect. Watch it, and you’ll see why BJJ isn’t just a sport. It’s life.

Watch “Jiu Jitsu vs. The World” for free on YouTube on the video embed below:

…or through this link:

2) For The Love Of Catch

For the Love of Catch (2022, dir. Curran Jacobs) is a must-see for any MMA fan.

Jacobs and historian Mike Chapman dive deep into catch wrestling’s impact on modern combat sports. The connections to MMA are front and center.

MMA legend Randy Couture shares his insights. He’s living proof of the catch-MMA link. Couture’s wrestling roots and catch techniques were key to his success in the cage.

But Couture is just the tip of the iceberg. Josh Barnett, Dan Severn, and other MMA stars with wrestling backgrounds also weigh in. They trace the path from catch’s grappling and submissions to modern MMA’s arsenal.

The film makes a compelling case. Catch wrestling, a.k.a. “catch-as-catch-can,” is the unsung hero of MMA. Its DNA is woven into everything from takedowns to chokes to joint locks.

For the Love of Catch isn’t just a history lesson. It’s a celebration of the art that helped shape MMA as we know it. Whether you’re a grappling geek or a casual fan, this doc will change how you see the sport.

So grab your gi or your gloves and settle in.

For the Love of Catch is a gripping tale of MMA’s secret weapon. It’s time for catch wrestling to come out of the shadows and into the spotlight.

Watch For The Love Of Catch for free on YouTube here:

3) Choke

Director: Robert Goodman Year: 1999 Duration: 1 hour 37 minutes

“Choke” is an adrenaline-packed dive into the legendary Rickson Gracie, the first son of the father of BJJ: Helio Gracie.

The doc centers around the 1995 Vale Tudo Japan tournament, a no-holds-barred fighting competition.

The documentary doesn’t just show the fights; it brings us into Rickson’s world—his training routines, his philosophy, and his life outside the ring.

Rickson is a stoic figure, with a presence that commands respect. The film captures his rigorous training regimen in Rio de Janeiro, including intense sparring sessions and grueling physical conditioning.

One of the most captivating scenes is Rickson’s practice of “ginástica natural”. That’s the Brazilian form of body movement to enhance flexibility and strength.

The doc also introduces us to Rickson’s opponents, including Yuki Nakai and Koichiro Kimura. Each fighter has their own story, adding layers to the narrative.

Nakai’s journey is particularly moving. Despite being much smaller and suffering severe injuries, his determination to continue fighting is inspiring.

Rickson’s wife, Rockson Gracie, and other family members share personal anecdotes that reveal the man behind the fighter.

The film also explores the Gracie family’s philosophy of “Gracie Jiu-Jitsu,” emphasizing technique over brute strength.

The climax of “Choke” is Rickson’s fight against Nakai. It’s a brutal, intense showdown that encapsulates the essence of martial arts—skill, endurance, and heart.

Watch Choke

Finding a place to watch “Choke” has been super-hard. YouTube has it at times but then has taken it down. (the best guide for streaming) shows nothing.

June 20, 2024 Update: As I write this (on June 20, 2024), I found a free link to watch “Choke”!:

4) Renzo Gracie Legacy

Director: Gethin Aldous; Release Date: NOvember 14, 2008; Duration: 1 hour 30 minutes

Yes, a second doc dedicated to a Gracie legend (Renzo) makes my Best of MMA cut.

“Renzo Gracie: Legacy”follows Renzo from his roots in Rio de Janeiro to his journey in New York City.

The doc captures the essence of Gracie’s philosophy and his impact on the martial arts world.

We get up close and personal with Renzo’s family, his students, and his competitors. You see him training at his academy in Manhattan, a place that’s become a hub for martial artists around the world.

One standout moment is Renzo’s 2007 fight against Frank Shamrock. It’s raw, intense, and shows Renzo’s unyielding spirit. The training sequences are gritty.

The interviews are candid. Aldous doesn’t hold back in showing both the triumphs and the struggles.

The documentary also covers Renzo’s fight with Pat Miletich in 2006, a significant bout that showcased his tactical prowess and resilience.

We get to see the meticulous preparation, the tension before the match, and the sheer determination in the ring.

The film also delves into Renzo’s personal life, including touching moments with his grandfather, Carlos Gracie, the founder of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

Gracie’s charisma shines through every frame. His passion for Jiu-Jitsu is infectious.

Whether you’re a seasoned practitioner or a newbie, this documentary offers a compelling look at what it means to dedicate your life to a craft.

Renzo’s philosophy, “Keep going forward and never stop,” is evident throughout the film. He speaks candidly about his injuries, his fears, and his unwavering dedication to the sport.

No fluff here, just a true portrayal of a man who lives and breathes martial arts. Renzo Gracie: Legacy is a must-watch for anyone interested in the real stories behind the fighters.

It’s not just about the fights, but the journey, the family legacy, and the unwavering spirit of a true martial artist.

Watch the full Renzo Gracie Legacy doc for free on YouTube here:

5) THUG Rose: Mixed Martial Artist

Thug Rose: Mixed Martial Artist (2023, 92 min, dir. Emily Mackenzie) is a raw, unflinching portrait of UFC strawweight champion Rose Namajunas. Mackenzie takes us beyond the Octagon and into the heart and mind of a fighter.

Rose’s journey is one of grit and grace. From her tough upbringing in Milwaukee to her stunning upset of Joanna Jędrzejczyk at UFC 217 in 2017. Mackenzie doesn’t shy away from the dark chapters, including Rose’s childhood abuse and struggles with PTSD.

But this isn’t a sob story. It’s a tale of resilience and redemption. We see Rose’s evolution as a fighter and a person. Her bond with fiancé and training partner Pat Barry. Her spiritual awakening and mental toughness.

The fight footage is visceral and vivid. But it’s the quiet moments that pack the biggest punch. Rose’s vulnerability and introspection are as powerful as her right hook.

Thug Rose: Mixed Martial Artist is a reminder that fighters are human too. They bleed, they break, they battle demons outside the cage. But like Rose, they also rise. They inspire. They show us what it means to be a champion in every sense of the word.

Watch Thug Rose: Mixed Martial Artist for free on YouTube here:

6) Quattro Colori

Quattro Colori (2022, 77 min, dir. Luca Ricci) is a vibrant exploration of the intertwined histories of four iconic Italian football clubs: Juventus, Milan, Internazionale, and Roma.

Ricci, a lifelong calcio fan, paints a vivid picture using a palette of black and white, red and black, blue and black, and yellow and red.

The film traces the origins and evolution of each club. Juventus, the “Old Lady” of Turin. Milan, the Rossoneri of Lombardy. Internazionale, the Nerazzurri of Milan.

Roma, the Giallorossi of the Eternal City. Ricci weaves together archival footage, interviews with legendary players and managers, and the passion of the tifosi.

But Quattro Colori is more than just a football film. It’s a love letter to Italian culture and identity. The rivalries and romances between the clubs mirror the regional tensions and national pride of the Italian people.

From the industrial north to the ancient capital, football is the thread that binds the peninsula.

Ricci’s artful cinematography captures the beauty and grit of Italian stadiums. The chants of the ultras echo through the streets. The triumphs and tragedies of each club become operatic in scale.

Quattro Colori is a symphony in four colors, a testament to the power of football to unite and divide, to inspire and inflame. It’s a must-watch for any fan of the beautiful game or the bel paese. Forza Italia, indeed.

Watch Quattro Colori for free on YouTube here:

7) The Game Changers

“The Game Changers,” directed by Louie Psihoyos, hit screens on September 16, 2019. This 85-minute documentary flips the script on diet and performance in sports.

The film follows James Wilks, a former UFC fighter. After an injury, he dives into nutrition science, uncovering the benefits of a plant-based diet. You meet elite athletes like Arnold Schwarzenegger, Lewis Hamilton, and Novak Djokovic, who share their plant-based experiences.

Wilks’s journey shows faster recovery times, improved endurance, and better health. Psihoyos uses striking visuals and compelling interviews with scientists and doctors presenting research on the impact of animal products.

Highlights include a visit to the University of Tennessee, where athletes switch to plant-based diets with significant improvements. Another key moment is learning that ancient Roman gladiators consumed mostly plants.

“The Game Changers” challenges conventional wisdom, urging viewers to rethink their food choices. It received praise for eye-opening content and engaging storytelling.

Whether you’re an athlete or just health-conscious, this documentary offers a fresh perspective on nutrition and performance. Watch it and reconsider how your diet affects your game.

Watch Game Changers on Netflix at

8) Fighting in the Age of Loneliness

“Fighting in the Age of Loneliness,” directed by Felix Biederman and Jon Bois, is a gripping 5-part documentary series released on October 9, 2018. It runs for approximately 3 hours.

This series traces the history of mixed martial arts (MMA). It starts in the early days of Vale Tudo in Brazil and moves through to the rise of the UFC. You get a deep dive into key moments and figures. Royce Gracie’s dominance in early UFC. The Pride Fighting Championships in Japan. The rise of Conor McGregor.

Each episode blends archival footage with insightful commentary. The tone is raw and reflective. Biederman and Bois don’t shy away from the sport’s darker aspects. They explore the brutal nature of fights and the exploitation of fighters.

A standout moment is the narrative around the UFC’s evolution. It went from a no-holds-barred spectacle to a regulated sport. You see the impact of Dana White’s leadership and the Fertitta brothers’ investment.

The series also delves into the personal stories of fighters. You hear about their struggles, both in and out of the ring. It touches on themes of loneliness and the search for meaning through combat.

“Fighting in the Age of Loneliness” is not just for MMA fans. It’s for anyone interested in the intersection of sport, culture, and society. The storytelling is tight, the visuals compelling. Watch it to understand the complex world of MMA and the fighters who live it.

Watch an edited version of Fighting in the Age of Loneliness for free on YouTube here:

I don’t see it streaming anywhere else.

9) The Smashing Machine

Director: John Hyams Year: 2002 Duration: 1 hour 33 minutes

“The Smashing Machine,” directed by John Hyams, was released on January 12, 2002. This 93-minute documentary dives into the life of Mark Kerr, a top mixed martial artist.

The film follows Kerr’s career from the late 1990s to early 2000s. It captures his dominance in the Pride Fighting Championships in Japan.

That’s where his power and wrestling skills earned him the nickname “The Smashing Machine.”

Hyams offers a raw view of Kerr’s life.

It shows his struggles with addiction and his tumultuous relationship with girlfriend Dawn Staples.

The documentary doesn’t shy away from the dark side of fame and the pressures of being at the top.

One standout moment is Kerr’s preparation for the Pride 10 event in 2000.

The training sequences are brutal, showing his commitment and the extreme lengths he goes to stay in peak condition. Interviews with notable figures like Bas Rutten provide insights into Kerr’s career and personal life.

The film also contrasts Kerr’s journey with that of his friend and fellow fighter, Mark Coleman. Their camaraderie and mutual support highlight the unique bonds in combat sports.

Hyams captures the essence of the sport—the highs of victory and the lows of personal battles.

The film culminates in Kerr’s fight at Pride 10, a grueling match that showcases his physical prowess and the immense pressure he faces.

Watch “Smashing Machine” for free on YouTube at

10) Kids in a Cage

I haven’t watched this Kids in a Cage so I thought I’d include a summary review of it from this guy Tommy Gunz who seems thoughtful about it:

Release Date: July 16, 2023 (on A&E); Director: Adam Irving

Kids in a Cage” looks at the controversial subject of Youth MMA (now legal in California).

It follows two young warriors battling it out for the national championship.

Over several years, we follow these pint-sized pugilists as they face not only their opponents but also their personal demons at home.

Imagine Rocky Balboa, but in miniature.

It features appearances by Nate Diaz, Jeff Frater, and Rose Gracie (yes, from the legendary Gracie family of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu fame).

At 1 hour and 26 minutes, it’s a rollercoaster of emotion and adrenaline — and TV-14, for good reason.

Watch it for free on Hoopla (with library card) at

Check here for other streaming options:

11) Bisping: The Michael Bisping Story

“Bisping: The Michael Bisping Story” drops you into the octagon on March 22, 2022. Michael Hamilton’s 110-minute documentary pulls no punches.

You’ll follow Bisping from Clitheroe factory worker to first British UFC champion. His 2016 short-notice victory over Luke Rockhold crowns a decade-long quest.

Hamilton exposes the brutal realities of MMA. Vitor Belfort’s 2013 head kick detached Bisping’s retina, a secret he kept for years.

The film showcases Bisping’s journey from TUF 3 winner in 2006 to UFC Hall of Fame in 2019. Every triumph and setback is laid bare.

Scott Adkins, Karyn Bryant, Bruce Buffer, and Dana White offer insider perspectives. Their words paint Bisping’s impact on British MMA.

You’ll witness Bisping’s family life and post-retirement transition to commentary and acting. His wife and children’s support shines through.

Hamilton mixes rare early footage, key UFC bouts, and new interviews. The blend of archive and fresh material is compelling to MMA’s veteran fans and newbies (like me!) alike.

To watch “Bisping: The Michael Bisping Story”, you have to rent it. I see it on Apple TV, Amazon, YouTube, etc. ($3.79 to $3.99 last I checked). See here for the latest streaming options:

12) StyleBender

Stylebender” throws you into Israel Adesanya’s world of anime and MMA. Director Zoe McIntosh’s 2018 documentary runs a crisp 45 minutes.

You’ll follow Adesanya from Nigerian roots to New Zealand fight scene. His journey from kickboxer to UFC middleweight contender is electric.

McIntosh captures Izzy’s unique blend of flashy striking and pop culture swagger. His Matrix-like dodges and DBZ-inspired celebrations leap off the screen.

The film doesn’t shy away from Adesanya’s struggles. You’ll see early career setbacks and the weight of expectations.

City Kickboxing gym becomes Adesanya’s fortress. Coach Eugene Bareman’s influence on Izzy’s style is evident in every frame.

You’ll witness Adesanya’s analytical mind at work. His fight breakdowns are as sharp as his left hook.

The documentary showcases Izzy’s life outside the octagon. His passion for dance and anime adds depth to the fighter’s persona.

By the final scene, you’re left anticipating Adesanya’s UFC ascent. It’s a portrait of a star on the cusp of greatness.

Check (though I don’t see any streaming options there as I write this (on June 20, 2024).

13) McGregor Forever

“McGregor Forever” immerses you in the Notorious One’s world. Charlie Lightening’s 2023 Netflix series spans four hour-long episodes.

You’ll follow Conor McGregor’s journey from January 18, 2020, to July 10, 2021. His 40-second TKO of Donald Cerrone and UFC 264 leg break against Dustin Poirier bookend the narrative.

Lightening’s camera captures McGregor’s $185 million Forbes earnings in 2021. You’ll see his 150-foot yacht and Dublin Black Forge Inn pub alongside grueling training sessions.

The series doesn’t shy away from McGregor’s 2019 assault charge in Dublin. His Twitter feuds with Khabib Nurmagomedov and Ali Abdelaziz are laid bare.

You’ll witness McGregor’s struggle to make the 155-pound limit. His nutritionist’s efforts and weight cut challenges are front and center.

The documentary showcases the $600 million sale of Proper No. Twelve whiskey. McGregor’s business acumen beyond fighting takes the spotlight.

John Kavanagh, Owen Roddy, and Dillon Danis offer insider perspectives. Their insights reveal the intense preparation for UFC 257 and 264.

By the final episode, you’re left pondering McGregor’s 1-3 record since 2016. It’s a raw look at a 34-year-old star’s attempt to reclaim his throne.

Watch “McGregor Forever” on Netlix at

14) Untold: Jake Paul the Problem Child

“Untold: Jake Paul the Problem Child” pulls back the curtain on boxing’s enfant terrible. Andrew Renzi’s 2023 Netflix doc packs 67 minutes with controversy and knockouts.

You’ll follow Jake Paul’s journey from 19.7 million YouTube subscribers to boxing pay-per-view star. His transition from pranks to dropping Nate Robinson on November 28, 2020, is meticulously detailed.

Renzi doesn’t flinch from Paul’s scandals. The July 2020 FBI raid seizing guns from his $6.9 million Calabasas home gets dissected.

The film showcases Paul’s $690,000 payday for the Ben Askren fight on April 17, 2021. You’ll see the lead-up to his 1:59 first-round KO of the former MMA champ.

Paul’s foray into MMA is explored, including his signing with PFL in January 2023. His callouts of Nate Diaz and Conor McGregor are highlighted.

You’ll witness Paul’s feuds with Dana White and Dillon Danis. His $1 million offer to spar Paddy Pimblett adds spice to the MMA narrative.

The doc features Paul’s 4-0 run against MMA fighters. His victories over Askren, Woodley (twice), and Anderson Silva are broken down.

By the final bell, you’re left pondering Paul’s impact on combat sports crossovers. It’s a candid look at a YouTuber shaking up both boxing and MMA.

Watch “Untold: Jake Paul” on Netflix at

Thanks for reading!

Rob Kelly, Chief Maniac, Daily Doc