15 Best UFC/MMA Documentaries Ranked 2024 (Must-watch!)

In the world of mixed martial arts (MMA), a treasure trove of captivating stories awaits exploration. These documentaries, like windows into the souls of legendary fighters, reveal the triumphs, struggles, and sacrifices they endure on their quest for greatness.

From the blood, sweat, and tears shed in training camps to the electrifying moments inside the Octagon, these films offer an immersive experience.

Prepare to be inspired, enlightened, and awestruck as you dive into the best UFC/MMA documentaries of 2024, ranked for their must-watch factor.

Key Takeaways

  • There are a wide variety of documentaries available about MMA fighters, organizations, legends, training, impact, history, personal lives, evolution, business, cultural significance, challenges and struggles, specific fights, and the mental and emotional aspects of the sport.
  • Some notable documentaries include "The Smashing Machine: Mark Kerr," "Once I Was a Champion," "Fighting for a Generation: 20 Years of the UFC," and "The Hurt Business."
  • These documentaries provide insights into the lives of MMA fighters, their training and preparation, the impact of the sport on society, the history and evolution of MMA, and the challenges and struggles faced by fighters.
  • The documentaries also explore the business aspects of MMA, the cultural significance of the sport, and the mental and emotional aspects of competing in MMA.

The Smashing Machine: Mark Kerr (2002)

The Smashing Machine: Mark Kerr (2002) is a rarely seen documentary that vividly portrays the intense and often brutal world of mixed martial arts. The film delves into the life and career of Mark Kerr, a renowned fighter in the early days of MMA.

While Kerr's success inside the cage is well-documented, the documentary also sheds light on his struggles outside of the cage. It explores the toll that the sport takes on fighters' personal lives, revealing the physical and emotional challenges they face.

The Smashing Machine offers a raw and unfiltered look at the impact of MMA on the lives of its athletes, highlighting the sacrifices they make and the hardships they endure in pursuit of their dreams.

Once I Was a Champion (2011)

After overcoming numerous obstacles, Once I Was a Champion (2011) provides an intimate and inspiring look at the life of Evan Tanner, an MMA fighter who rose to the top of the sport. This documentary sheds light on the impact of mental strength on MMA fighters and explores the struggles and challenges faced by MMA champions.

Tanner's journey is a testament to the importance of mental fortitude in the face of adversity. The film delves into his personal battles with addiction and depression, as well as his determination to overcome these obstacles and become a champion. Through interviews with Tanner and those close to him, viewers gain insight into the mindset required to succeed in the unforgiving world of mixed martial arts.

Once I Was a Champion serves as a reminder that true champions aren't only defined by their physical abilities, but by their resilience and mental toughness.

Fightville (2011)

While exploring the challenges and struggles of MMA fighters, 'Fightville (2011)' takes viewers on a captivating journey into the world of small-town Louisiana fighters. This documentary delves into the impact of MMA on the local community, highlighting how it provides a sense of purpose and belonging for both the fighters and the spectators.

'Fightville' also sheds light on the crucial role of coaches and trainers in shaping the fighters' careers. The film showcases the intense physical and mental training that these fighters undergo, emphasizing the importance of discipline, dedication, and guidance in their journey towards success.

Through the stories of these aspiring fighters, 'Fightville' offers a deeper understanding of the sacrifices and determination required to pursue a career in MMA, while also highlighting the transformative power of the sport within a close-knit community.

Jens Pulver: Driven (2011)

Jens Pulver: Driven (2011) is considered a must-watch MMA documentary for several reasons. Firstly, it provides a deep and personal look into the mental and emotional aspects of being an MMA fighter. It explores Pulver's upbringing, his rise to success, and the hardships he faced along the way. By delving into his triumphs and tribulations, the documentary offers invaluable insights into the mindset of a fighter. It highlights the resilience and determination required to compete at the highest level.

Moreover, Pulver's journey and struggles in MMA make this documentary a must-watch for any fan of the sport. As a former UFC lightweight champion, Pulver faced numerous challenges throughout his career, both inside and outside of the cage. This documentary showcases those challenges and provides a raw and honest portrayal of the sacrifices and dedication necessary to achieve greatness in the world of MMA.

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Such Great Heights (2012)

'Such Great Heights (2012)' takes viewers on an inspiring journey into the world of MMA training and preparation. This documentary explores the impact of MMA on fighters and delves into the various training techniques employed by these athletes. It offers a unique glimpse into the physical and mental challenges faced by MMA fighters as they strive to reach the pinnacle of their sport. The film showcases the dedication, discipline, and determination required to succeed in the competitive world of MMA. Through interviews with trainers and fighters, 'Such Great Heights' provides valuable insights into the training methods utilized by these athletes, including strength and conditioning exercises, technical drills, and mental preparation strategies. The documentary serves as a valuable resource for aspiring MMA fighters and fans alike, offering a comprehensive look into the rigorous training routines and techniques employed in the world of mixed martial arts.

———————– ——————-
Impact on Fighters Training Techniques
Showcases the challenges faced by MMA fighters Reveals strength and conditioning exercises
Explores the mental and emotional aspects of the sport Highlights technical drills
Offers insights into the dedication and discipline required to succeed Provides strategies for mental preparation

Takedown: The DNA of GSP (2014)

'Takedown: The DNA of GSP (2014)' explores the life and career of Georges St-Pierre, one of the greatest UFC fighters of all time. This documentary delves into the impact of GSP's training methods and showcases his dedication to his craft.

Known for his exceptional athleticism and technical prowess, St-Pierre's training regimen was meticulous and innovative, pushing the boundaries of what was considered possible in mixed martial arts.

His legacy in the MMA world is undeniable, as he held the UFC welterweight title for years and successfully defended it multiple times. St-Pierre's influence extends beyond the octagon, as he became a role model for aspiring fighters and inspired a new generation of athletes.

'Takedown: The DNA of GSP' provides a comprehensive look at his journey and cements his status as a true legend in the sport.

Choke (1999)

The documentary 'Choke (1999)' provides an intimate and compelling look into the life and career of Rickson Gracie, a legendary figure in the world of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Mixed Martial Arts.

  • Exploring the cultural impact of 'Choke' (1999):

The film showcases the cultural significance of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and its influence on the development of MMA. It delves into the Gracie family's legacy and how their martial art revolutionized the sport.

  • Analyzing the mental and emotional aspects in 'Choke' (1999):

The documentary delves into the mental and emotional aspects of Rickson Gracie's journey as a fighter. It explores his mindset, determination, and the psychological challenges he faced both in and out of the ring.

  • Gracie's unwavering dedication:

'Choke' (1999) highlights Gracie's unwavering dedication to his craft and his relentless pursuit of excellence.

  • The triumphs and tribulations of a legend:

The film chronicles Gracie's triumphs and tribulations, capturing the highs and lows of his career and offering valuable insights into the life of a fighter.

  • A behind-the-scenes look into the world of MMA:

'Choke' (1999) provides a rare behind-the-scenes look into the world of MMA, offering viewers an up-close and personal perspective on the sport and the individuals who dedicate their lives to it.

Anderson Silva: Like Water (2011)

'Anderson Silva: Like Water (2011)' showcases the incredible journey of MMA legend Anderson Silva, providing a captivating insight into his life and career. Anderson Silva's impact on the MMA community and his legacy is undeniable.

Known for his exceptional striking skills and unorthodox fighting style, Silva was a dominant force in the middleweight division for almost a decade. However, his career wasn't without its challenges and struggles.

From his devastating leg injury against Chris Weidman to his controversial drug test failures, Silva faced numerous setbacks throughout his career. Despite these obstacles, Silva's resilience and determination allowed him to bounce back and continue to compete at a high level.

'Like Water' offers viewers a glimpse into the mindset and journey of one of the greatest fighters in MMA history.

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Conor McGregor: Notorious (2017)

Conor McGregor's rise to fame and his impact on the MMA world are explored in the documentary 'Conor McGregor: Notorious (2017)'.

This film provides an in-depth look at the Irish fighter's journey from his humble beginnings to becoming one of the biggest stars in the UFC.

McGregor's charisma, confidence, and fighting style captivated audiences and elevated the sport to new heights.

The documentary also delves into the behind-the-scenes struggles and challenges that McGregor faced throughout his career.

From his meteoric rise to stardom to his controversial antics outside of the Octagon, viewers get a glimpse into the complexities of McGregor's persona.

'Conor McGregor: Notorious' offers a captivating narrative that showcases the triumphs and tribulations of one of MMA's most iconic figures.

Pride Fighting Championships (2003-2007)

Pride Fighting Championships brought a unique blend of entertainment and competition to the MMA world from 2003 to 2007. This legendary MMA organization, known as Pride FC, had a significant impact on the global MMA scene. Let's take a closer look at the rise and fall of Pride FC and its lasting impact.

Pride Fighting Championships (2003-2007)
The Rise and Fall of a Legendary MMA Organization
The Impact of Pride FC on the Global MMA Scene

Pride FC was founded in 1997 in Japan and quickly gained a reputation for its exciting fights and talented roster of fighters. The organization showcased a mix of MMA styles, including striking, grappling, and submissions, which captivated fans all over the world.

During its peak years, Pride FC featured some of the biggest stars in MMA, including Fedor Emelianenko, Wanderlei Silva, and Mirko Cro Cop. The organization held numerous iconic events, such as the Pride Grand Prix tournaments, which showcased the best fighters in various weight classes.

However, despite its success, Pride FC faced financial and legal challenges that ultimately led to its downfall. In 2007, the organization was sold to the UFC, marking the end of an era for Pride FC.

Nevertheless, the impact of Pride FC on the global MMA scene cannot be overstated. It introduced many MMA fans to the sport and played a crucial role in popularizing MMA in Japan and around the world. The organization's influence can still be seen today in the careers of fighters who rose to prominence in Pride FC.

Ultimately, Pride Fighting Championships will always be remembered as a legendary MMA organization that brought a unique flavor to the sport. Its rise and fall are a testament to the ever-evolving nature of MMA and its enduring impact on the global MMA scene.

Fighting for a Generation: 20 Years of the UFC (2013)

One of the most comprehensive and informative documentaries about the UFC and its impact on the sport of MMA is 'Fighting for a Generation: 20 Years of the UFC' released in 2013.

This documentary delves deep into the history of the UFC, tracing its evolution over the span of 20 years. It provides a detailed look at the organization's rise from its early days as a spectacle to its current status as a global phenomenon.

The impact of the UFC's 20 year history on the sport is explored, highlighting how it has transformed MMA into a mainstream sport with a massive following. The documentary also examines the influence of the UFC on the development of MMA as a whole, showcasing the techniques, rules, and strategies that have emerged as a result of the organization's success.

Fighting in the Age of Loneliness (2018)

During the documentary 'Fighting in the Age of Loneliness (2018)', viewers are immersed in the emotional journey of MMA fighters as they navigate the challenges of their sport and the personal struggles that come with it.

This documentary sheds light on the impact that combat sports can have on the mental health of fighters, particularly the feeling of loneliness.

MMA fighters often face isolation and loneliness due to the rigorous training schedules, the physical demands of the sport, and the pressure to perform.

The constant need to prove oneself and the intense competition can also contribute to feelings of isolation.

'Fighting in the Age of Loneliness' provides a raw and insightful look into the psychological toll that combat sports can take on fighters, highlighting the importance of mental well-being in this demanding industry.

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Pride Decade

Throughout the 'Pride Decade', numerous iconic moments and legendary fighters emerged, solidifying the organization's impact on the world of mixed martial arts. Pride Fighting Championships, which ran from 2003 to 2007, played a crucial role in shaping the careers of MMA fighters.

Here are five key ways in which the Pride Decade influenced the careers of these athletes:

  • Global Exposure: Pride provided fighters with a platform to showcase their skills to a worldwide audience, elevating their status and creating international stars.
  • Rule Set: The unique rule set of Pride, including the allowance of soccer kicks and knees to the head of a downed opponent, created a distinct style of fighting that challenged fighters and forced them to adapt.
  • Legendary Rivalries: Pride Decade witnessed legendary rivalries such as Wanderlei Silva vs. Quinton Jackson and Fedor Emelianenko vs. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, which captivated fans and elevated the sport.
  • Cross-Promotion Opportunities: Pride's partnership with other organizations, such as the UFC, provided fighters with opportunities to compete against top talent from different promotions, further enhancing their profiles.
  • Legacy: Many fighters who had successful stints in Pride, such as Fedor Emelianenko, Mirko Cro Cop, and Mauricio 'Shogun' Rua, went on to have illustrious careers in other organizations, solidifying their status as MMA legends.

The Pride Decade left an indelible mark on MMA, shaping the careers of fighters and contributing to the growth and evolution of the sport.

The Hurt Business (2016)

'The Hurt Business (2016)' takes viewers on a gripping journey into the world of MMA, exploring the physical and emotional toll that fighters endure in their pursuit of greatness. This documentary delves deep into the mental and emotional aspects of being an MMA fighter, shedding light on the psychological challenges they face both inside and outside of the octagon.

It showcases the immense pressure and stress that fighters experience, as they constantly push their bodies to the limit and strive for victory. Additionally, 'The Hurt Business' also examines the role of business and marketing in the MMA industry. It highlights the financial incentives and commercialization of the sport, providing insights into how fighters navigate the business side of their careers.

Rites of Passage: The Rebirth of Combat Sports (2001)

One of the most influential documentaries in the MMA world is 'Rites of Passage: The Rebirth of Combat Sports (2001)', which explores the transformation and resurgence of combat sports.

  • Historical significance: 'Rites of Passage' has contributed to the understanding and appreciation of the history and origins of combat sports by showcasing the roots of various martial arts disciplines and tracing their evolution into modern-day combat sports.
  • Cultural impact: The documentary has had a significant cultural impact in showcasing the rebirth and evolution of combat sports. It highlights the dedication, discipline, and sacrifice of fighters, shedding light on the unique subculture that exists within the combat sports community.

'Rites of Passage' has also helped to dispel misconceptions and stereotypes surrounding combat sports, promoting a greater understanding and acceptance of the sport among a wider audience.


In conclusion, these UFC/MMA documentaries aren't just ordinary films – they're immersive journeys that will leave you breathless. With their raw and unfiltered look into the world of mixed martial arts, these documentaries showcase the triumphs, struggles, and sacrifices of legendary fighters.

From the intense training to the electrifying fights, these films capture the essence of MMA like never before. Prepare to be captivated, inspired, and in awe as you step into the Octagon and witness the extraordinary world of MMA unfold before your eyes.

Mike Williams
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