There were many legendary MMA movies throughout history, but the attendance of MMA fighters is not mandatory for the great success of the movie.
Of course, the famous Octagon warrior offers better technique than a trained actor or a stuntman, but anybody can learn moves if he practices enough.
Some MMA films are comedies, others are about the paths of warriors and amazing successes, depressions, obstacles, and problems they were dealing with en route to a victory.
We’ve chosen the best MMA movies for you! Please don’t miss watching any of them!
These are the best movies for you to watch if you like mixed martial arts:
Stars: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Emily Mortimer, Tim Allen, Jennifer Grey, Joe Mantegna
MMA names: Randy Couture, Enson Inoue, Frank Trigg, Mike Goldberg, Josh Rafferty
Story: Frankly, this is more of a Karate movie as the head role, martial artist Mike Terry (Chiwetel Ejiofor), comes out from a Karate background and fights in all kinds of battles. But there’s a part of the movie that has pretty much common things with mixed martial arts, so we had to put it on the list.
Mike lives by a strict code of no competitions because he believes that matches are going to weaken fighters. But he’s a good person and it is going to cost him. He saved a famous movie star (Tim Allen) from the attack, and the celebrity helps him find a job in the movie industry.
But unfortunately, Mike owes a lot of money, and he’ll have to put his personal beliefs and integrity on the line when he decides to participate in a prize battle.
Of course, he wins, but the majority of the bouts are stand-up wars and remind more of old-school kickboxing with more liberal rules. But overall, it is an excellent piece of choice to open our list.
Never Surrender (2009)
Stars: Hector Echavarria, Patrick Kilpatrick
MMA names: Georges St-Pierre, Anderson Silva, Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, BJ Penn, Heath Herring
Story: A talented fighter Diego (Hector Echavarria) is taken into the world of illegal underground fighting combats, promoted by dangerous and tricky Seifer. Diego is not a fan of brutal force, but he’ll have to use his skillset and power and show how merciless he can be.
The movie has a lot of street fighting scenes, for example when St-Pierre (Church) wants to visit Diego, you can see all kinds of good and bad sides of MMA on the concrete.
Also, you can enjoy the great example of a 3-on-3 fight, where the cage fighters were attacked by bettors who accused them of “costing them so much money”. Of course, these guys can fight out of the cage too.
Stars: Channing Tatum, Terrance Howard, Brian J. White, Luis Guzman
MMA names: Cung Le
Story: Shawn MacArthur (Channing Tatum) is struggling by selling counterfeit goods in New York, but his natural talent for fighting connects him with a conman Harvey Boarden (Terrence Howard).
This alliance looks good, as MacArthur destroys every single martial artist in a bare-knuckle fight, from professional boxers to mixed martial arts stars.
One day, Shawn wants to exit the crime world, but there’s no light at the end of the tunnel. He must fight his way out of the dark world.
He’ll meet the most dangerous opponent in his whole career before finally turning back to the world of underground fighting.
Tapped Out (2014)
Stars: Cody Hackman, Krzysztof Soszynski (UFC fighter)
MMA names: Anderson Silva, Lyoto Machida
Story: Michael (Cody Hackman) was a 12-year-old kid when his parents were killed in a robbery gone wrong. He remembers the man who pulled the trigger because of his tattoos. He has only one wish – to revenge on the man who slayed his parents.
Michael is a troubled kid, but everything changes when he starts spending time in a Karate dojo. In the first place, he’s cleaning the gym, but then, the coach sees his talent and starts teaching him.
The kid progresses very fast, but also takes part in one illegal fight, where he KOs the opponent with a straight punch to the stomach after eating some serious blows.
Upon hearing that the killer of his parents will participate in the MMA underground arena, he goes to the new gym to train with famous coaches (acted by Lyoto Machida and Anderson Silva).
In the first place, the promoter refuses to let him fight in the tournament, but Michael destroys the security guy, and the official changes his mind and lets him fill the papers.
Michael scores a vicious standing knockout in the first fight and defeats the second opponent via Anderson Silva’s submission switch (armbar to triangle armbar). The third fight ends with Lyoto Machida’s crane kick, while the murderer Dominique (Soszinski) waits for him in the final fight.
After getting battered in the first, Michael wins the second round. Dominique misses with a knee, hits the fence, and hurts himself. They lock the cage and Michael can only kill the slayer of his parents or be killed in the fight.
At one point, Michael knocks his opponent down and unloads a big barrage of punches, but then changes his mind and finishes the fight with a kneebar, forcing an undefeated dangerous opponent to tap.
Fight Valley (2016)
Stars: Susie Celek, Miesha Tate (UFC fighter)
Other MMA names: Holly Holm, Cris Cyborg, Katlyn Chookagian
Story: This is one of the rare movies that cover the female MMA circuit. Tori Coro, Windsor’s sister, was killed in an underground fight. It is rumored that she died in Fight Valley, an illegal fight league where fighters go to earn money.
Susie Celek (Windsor) finds out what happened and wants to avenge the death of her sister Tora, whose body was found in the woods on the outskirts of Camden, NJ.
She infiltrates the world of underground brawlers to proceed with her plan. Jabs (Miesha Tate) comes to help her and agrees to train her on her route to revenge.
Fight Valley is the first movie where you see female fighters grounding and pounding each other, attempting sweeps, transitions, and even submission switches. Some parts are very realistic, you’ll love this movie if you’re a fan of female MMA!
Further reading: The 12 hottest female UFC fighters
Here Comes the Boom (2012)
Stars: Kevin James, Henry Winkler, Selma Hayek, Bas Rutten (UFC fighter)
MMA names: Joe Rogan, Mark DellaGrotte, Krzysztof Soszynski, Bruce Buffer, Mike Goldberg, Herb Dean, “Stitch” Duran, Jason “Mayhem” Miller, Mark Munoz, Satoshi Ishii, Wanderlei Silva, Chael Sonnen
Story: Scott Voss is a 42-year-old biology professor and a former NCAA wrestler. When the financial advisor threatens to ax extracurricular activities from a cash-strapped school, Voss decides to become a successful MMA fighter in order to raise money.
In the first place, Scott is a terrible striker. He was brutally knocked out by a violent knee in his first fight (that scene kinda reminded me on Ben Askren vs. Jorge Masvidal KO).
Luckily, he meets Niko, a former fighter who tries to get American citizenship. They make an agreement – Niko (Bas Rutten) will help him with MMA, while Scott is going to assist him with the USA citizenship questions and tests.
Scott keeps losing, but his toughness comes to the fore. In one fight, Voss KOs his opponent with an overhand right and pukes all over him, which turns him into an internet sensation.
The principal threatens to fire him, but Scott tells him he’ll get the money with or without his support. Niko leads Voss to the best striking coach and finally, the biology professor starts winning and gets a call from the UFC.
Niko rejects it in the first place, but Voss’ striking coach tells him what happened behind Niko’s back. After some back-and-forth, Niko calls Joe Rogan, sets a meeting, and the two agree on a short-notice bout against Ken “The Executioner” Dietrich (Krzysztof Soszinski).
Scott’s students a walkout song in Las Vegas, Nevada, at UFC 176, where Scott gets battered for two rounds against a legendary UFC name, but then miraculously recovers in the third, batters his opponent, and sets himself out of the triangle choke via slam for a knockout victory.
He saves the extracurricular activities and becomes the hero of the school, while Niko obtains USA citizenship.
Stars: Joel Edgerton, Tom Hardy, Nick Nolte
MMA names: Nate Marquardt, Anthony Johnson, Roan Carneiro, Josh Rosenthal
Story: It is absolutely the best ever MMA movie made. Tommy Riordan, a former marine, returns from war to his alcoholic father, a former boxer. Tommy would like to train, and he joins a local dojo because his father doesn’t look interested in teaching his son.
Upon hearing about a 5-million dollar MMA tournament, an unknown fighter Tommy Riordan wants to test his luck.
He enters the ring without walkout music or support of the crowd but destroys the first three opponents via violent barrages of ground and pound strikes. Unfortunately, Tommy has to fight his estranged brother (acted by Joel) in the final.
Riordan batters his brother for three rounds, but he suffers a broken arm at the end of the third due to a nasty Omoplata. A former marine refuses to tap, switches stance, and continues attacking with his right hand only, while his brother begs him to surrender throughout round four.
Tommy is too proud to tap, so his brother drags him to the ground, sets up a rear-naked choke from behind, and the unknown fighter finally surrenders, ending the fight bruised, covered in blood, and badly hurt.
Yet, in the end, he reconciles with his brother – family comes first!
Octagon Radar tried very hard to choose the best MMA movies of all time. We tried to focus on the roles of UFC fighters, the story of the movie, and the presence of the Octagon (the ring is fine, but only Pride FC and other promotions take part in the squared circle, not UFC).
Please tell us if you enjoyed our list. Would you like to add something or change the movie order?