The 15 Best Fighting Documentaries Every UFC/MMA Fan Should Watch in 2023

For nearly 27 years, the UFC has been a prominent force in the MMA world. As a top organization, its collaboration with ESPN has boosted its already significant popularity. Yet, this triumph was not instantaneous; the UFC has strived for years to reach its current level of accomplishment through persistent effort and commitment.

The $4 billion MMA powerhouse UFC had a long, difficult path to success. Luckily, numerous documentaries have been made to show the UFC and MMA.

Are you curious about the best UFC/MMA documentaries ever made?

This article will discuss the 15 greatest UFC/MMA documentaries of all time, along with details about their subject matter.

Best UFC/MMA Documentaries Ranked

Here is a list of the top UFC/MMA movies in order of rating.

DocumentariesIMDb RatingReleasing Year
Fighting in the Age of Loneliness8.32018
Fighting for a Generation: 20 Years of the UFC 7.82013
The Smashing Machine: Mark Kerr7.72002
Takedown: The DNA of GSP 7.42014
Once I Was a Champion7.42011
Conor McGregor: Notorious 7.12017
Rites of Passage: The Rebirth of Combat Sports7.12001
Like Water6.92011
Jens Pulver: Driven6.82011
The Hurt Business6.42016
Such Great Heights6.22012
Pride DecadeN/A1997

1. Fighting in the Age of Loneliness

If you’re searching for a comprehensive look at mixed martial arts (MMA) and the UFC’s past, look no further than Fighting in the Age of Loneliness, an internet documentary. Beginning with its inception in 19th-century Japan, it follows judo’s wild voyage around the globe as it evolves into the mixed-martial arts of today.

Felix Biederman, the documentary’s sole narrator, does a great job of giving in-depth detail in an orderly schedule. It took weeks of work and studied to create. (Jon Bois).

The documentary is just under two hours long and divided into five segments; it covers everything. Women’s divisions, USADA, drugs in the sport, rivalries, UFC business transactions, the development of the UFC over the years, its celebrity fighters, the sale of the UFC in 2016, Pride’s corrupt connections, and a great deal more are discussed.

It even discusses how politics impact UFC and MMA. It’s also free on YouTube.

2. Fighting for a Generation: 20 Years of the UFC

A fantastic documentary for fans of MMA to learn about the evolution of the UFC from its inception in 1993 to the present day. The book detailed the history of the UFC from its inception to the buyouts by SEG in 1995 and the Fertitta siblings in 2001.

From having no rules, being seen as savage, and being attacked by lawmakers to adopting rules and becoming one of the safest fighting sports (certainly safer than boxing), Fighting For a Generation demonstrates how the UFC evolved through trial and error.

The Fertitta siblings were just enthusiasts like the rest of us and were prepared to go millions of dollars in debt to attempt to make it work, despite having no experience in production or combat.

The program ends with a look at The Ultimate Fighter’s triumph and the inspiring athletes who boosted the UFC. BJ Penn, Chuck Liddell, Matt Hughes, Anderson Silva, and Conor McGregor are among the athletes in focus.

3. Bisping

A documentary detailing the extraordinary MMA career of Michael “The Count” Bisping, from one of the most despised UFC fighters to one of the most popular, and now a UFC commentator, and from written off to UFC middleweight champion and defeating Anderson Silva.

Michael Bisping, who rose from modest origins to become one of Britain’s finest fighters, talks about the importance of mental toughness in mixed martial arts. He discusses how MMA fighters are constantly struck down and questioned but must keep going forward.

The documentary additionally highlights Luke Rockhold’s feud with Michael Bisping and his entertaining trash-talking throughout his MMA career. Darker aspects include how he ultimately lost his sight due to combat and the facts of MMA.

Bisping is an uplifting UFC documentary with intriguing people like Vin Diesel.

4. The Smashing Machine: Mark Kerr

The Smashing Machine chronicles Mark Kerr’s path as one of the first MMA pioneers who contributed to the growth of the UFC and Pride. It’s a fantastic MMA documentary because it provides a detailed inside glimpse into a top combatant’s professional and domestic lives.

Mark discusses various topics, including how he began MMA fighting because he was destitute and how his pre-fight nervousness prevented him from eating or imbibing. However, when he was in the cage, the nerves turned into concentration as it became a matter of murder or being killed.

The Smashing Machine additionally demonstrates the early days of MMA. It was normal to win by knees or kicks to the face of a downed opponent, headbutts, eye pokes, cutting open wounds, and other street-style moves.

The documentary captures the sound of close-up blows and their effect. It emphasizes what warriors endure mentally and bodily.

The documentary shows how Mark Kerr overdosed on steroids, sleeping pills, and analgesics and entered a 28-day detox program.

Mark says he injected needles into his arms 10 times daily. And he took drugs to hide training and combat injuries because he couldn’t skip fight payments.

More than meets the eye in this documentary about Mark Kerr’s life in and out of the arena. On the outside, he was a gentle, easygoing, and generous guy, but on the inside, he was a wild beast. The Smashing Machine, as a whole, is essential viewing.

5. Takedown: The DNA of GSP

Takedown chronicles GSP’s life and UFC career up to his third-to-last match against Nick Diaz in 2013. (UFC 158). The film looks at one of the finest MMA competitors of all time and some of the sport’s top trainers, including John Danaher and Firas Zahabi.

GSP says he turned to fighting because he was harassed in school. And his father enrolled him in karate lessons. Then Royce Gracie, the tiniest competitor at UFC 1, who defeated all of his larger opponents to win the competition, served as an inspiration to him.

It demonstrates how GSP, who was never the best in any specific martial art, could use his obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) to become incredibly proficient, focused, and committed to his MMA profession.

GSP became one of the best martial artists at combining various styles. And he decides whether an MMA battle should occur upright or on the ground. GSP discusses how his defeat to Matt Sierra was the most embarrassing day of his life and how he decided to leave his Pride outside of MMA and the UFC cage after that.

Takedown also discusses GSP and Nick Diaz’s acrimonious feud and trash-talking and how this will drive their impending battle. Takedown is a masterfully made UFC documentary. It offers a wealth of combat insight into MMA and GSP, one of the sport’s best fighters and most modest individuals.

6. Once I Was a Champion

Once I Was A Champion recounts Evan Tanner’s existence as a mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter and former UFC champion, as well as his untimely demise as an active UFC fighter.

In the documentary, many of the most prominent personalities in MMA express their thoughts on Evan Tanner and the circumstances surrounding his passing. These individuals include John McCarthy, the judge, Matt Lindland, Chael Sonnen, Forrest Griffin, Dana White, Rich Franklin, Phil Baroni, and Randy Couture.

It depicts the difficulties of fighting. Such as how Evan Tanner, who was training at Team Quest but was poor, resided in a camper and didn’t really enjoy fighting but saw it as work.

Evan Tanner was an over-analyzer and a nihilist. Even though he was the undisputed UFC king, he wasn’t truly happy. It also shows how he was lonely because he had to care for himself from age 13.

Tanner’s drinking is the subject of the final chapter of Once I Was a Champion. It delves into how it has cost him his wife, UFC career, and life.

7. Choke

The 1995 Vale Tudo Championship in Tokyo, Japan, is the subject of the behind-the-scenes documentary Choke. It follows Bjj master Rickson Gracie as he trains for it. Observing what goes into an MMA fighter’s success, particularly in the early years of the sport. These plots are one of the finest scenes of the documentary choke.

You can see precisely how Rickson Gracie prioritizes family time and practices semen retention for two weeks before a battle. You can also encounter his excellent breathing methods, meditation, time in nature, suppleness and movement training, and more.

Choke chronicles every one of Rickson Gracie’s bouts up until the 1995 VTJ tournament. For example, the preparation and mindset of some of his future opponents who thought they could win the tournament and overcome Rickson, who at the time was unbeaten in mixed martial arts (MMA) and had a record of 450-0 outside of it.

Choke is an excellent video about Bjj’s power in MMA. And why it became so popular in a century compared to martial arts like grappling and boxing, which have existed for millennia.

Choke is an excellent example of the lifestyle and work ethic needed to become one of the best MMA/UFC fighters.

8. Conor McGregor: Notorious

The documentary traces McGregor’s journey over the four years leading up to the McGregor vs Diaz 2 fight, from residing with his partner at his mother’s home in Ireland and getting debt collection letters to winning UFC titles and becoming the highest-paid and most popular fighter in MMA history.

It begins with McGregor’s journey into martial arts and how he quit his job to train full-time. He then worked his way up to becoming the Cage Warrior featherweight. Later he became the lightweight champion and then joined the UFC.

In the documentary concerning McGregor’s life, what stands out most is his belief in himself. It also shows how much his girlfriend trusted him from the start. This is a key part of being a successful fighter. You can see how much he loved the sport, how he trained, and how he always hung out with the same close friends.

MMA fans, warriors, and aspiring fighters must view the documentary.

9. Rites of Passage: The Rebirth of Combat Sports

If you want to see the early years of MMA before Unified Rules were created in 2001, Rites of Passage, an early MMA video, is a must-watch.

Inoue siblings, Brazilian vale tudo competition, The Monster (Kevin Randleman), and the Wolf are the three parts of the documentary. (Eugene Jackson).

Famous early mixed martial artists describe each segment, including Randy Couture, Mark Coleman, Frank Shamrock, Kevin Randleman, and many more.

The fighters talk about their childhoods, why they fight, and how they got into fighting. Kevin Randleman is the most honest. He talks about being abused as a child and how that made him try to kill himself. He talks about his other problems and how he always kept his mind strong.

Rites of Passage features great cage-side fight videos from UFC Japan, vale tudo events, and high-tempo hip-hop music.

Rites of Passage shows how MMA evolves from a brutal sport to a chess match. It also reveals the MMA stage, where athletes control their fate and can stop at any time.

10. Like Water

Before facing Chael Sonnen in his impending debut match, Like Water tracks Anderson Silva. It’s funny because Silva never responds negatively to Chael Sonnen’s continuous trash-talking. He believes it’s just not in his character because he’s concentrated on the fight.

In a way, Silva talks trash during his fights because he acts like he doesn’t care about his opponents. He is doing everything his way by taunting them and making it look like he’s not trying.

Dana White is consequently distraught with Anderson Silva. This is because Silva doesn’t treat the battle against Demian Maia seriously, and he isn’t being utterly inert in the cage.

Like Water also provides information about Anderson Silva’s exercise regimen and fighting strategies. For instance, you can see Anderson Silva rehearsing the triangle grip he used to finish Chael Sonnen in the fifth round after being rag-dolled for over 20 minutes.

11. Jens Pulver: Driven

Driven is tense as Jens Pulver discusses his emotional and physical preparation for what may be his final fight, despite having dropped his previous four fights and becoming the UFC’s first lightweight title in 2001.

Driven is a unique look at Jens Pulver’s youth and life. He talks about how he got into MMA because of his cruel, drunk father as a child. Verbal abuse and beatings made him a strong man. But it also caused him many emotional and mental problems.

Jens also talks about how he lives from paycheck to paycheck. Because MMA doesn’t pay well, but he can’t quit because he has a wife and kids and has been fighting for 25 years. This makes his next UFC fight even more exciting and makes Driven a must-see UFC documentary.

12. Fightville

In particular, Dustin Poirier and Albert Stainback, two up-and-coming MMA competitors in Louisiana with UFC aspirations, are featured in Fightville. Fightville was created in 2011. It is incredible because Dustin Poirier goes on to become one of the most significant MMA competitors in the world.

The documentary delivers an amazing task of showing what kind of mind, desire, natural ability, and hard work it takes to become a top-level MMA fighter who gets into the top MMA companies like the UFC. Dustin Poirier says that he never thought about money when he was doing MMA. He just loved to fight as a kid.

Fighting is used as imagery for life in the movie Fightville. In life, you can always push your limits, grow, get better, and expect more from yourself. The lesson it sends is to put yourself out there and do more.

It also tells the stories of two gym owners and their training athletes. One is former UFC fighter Tim Credeur, and the other is Gil Guillory, who runs a small MMA company called USA MMA in Louisiana.

Gil Guillory explains how tiny MMA companies often lose money or barely break even when putting on local events because they pay for everything upfront.

Gil promotes and organizes events with the assistance of his small children to save money. The performance after the documentary featuring Dustin Poirier’s title fight costs $55,000, a substantial sum of money.

Tim Credeur discusses how MMA distinguishes actual martial arts from theoretical and film-based material today. “To make something for everyone is to alter its true nature.” Overall, Fightville is an inspiring and engaging film to watch.

13. The Hurt Business

The Hurt Business includes the sounds of several well-known UFC and MMA competitors. It takes a closer look at the feelings, way of life, and ups and downs that many combatants experience.

The program looks at injuries. It shows how fighters deal with being parents and how many fighters are idealists who can be psychologically affected by wins, which can sometimes lead to sadness.

It touches on the unfortunate truth that many MMA competitors have nothing to show for their careers, the worries of brain injury, the history of MMA dating back to Pankration at the Olympics in Ancient Greece, and more.

The main fighters are Jon Jones, Sara McMann, Rashad Evans, and Michael “Joker” Guymon, who used to fight in MMA. The Joker is the most honest about his life and role in MMA, where he talks about how he used to be a fighter, dealt with sadness, and kept his school open.

14. Such Great Heights

The UFC documentary Such Great Heights follows Jon Fitch’s training at American Kickboxing Academy (AKA). And his title match against welterweight king Georges St-Pierre.

The video shows Jon Fitch as a quiet, humble man. He loves boxing because it is honest, and there are no easy ways out. It also indicates that Fitch has a very strong mind, which is more important than his ability and why he had such good MMA success.

The movie Such Great Heights does a great job of showing how AKA trained Fitch for his title fight. One of the ways they like to test him is by having him practice for 5 rounds with a different fighter for each game. This is called “shark tank sparring.”

The movie Such Great Heights does a great job of showing how AKA trained Fitch for his title fight. One of the ways they like to test him is by having him practice for 5 rounds with a different fighter for each game. This is called “shark tank sparring.”

Josh Thomson, Cain Velasquez, Pat Minihan, and other new opponents also discuss their MMA experiences. Pat Minihan takes the cameras into his RV, parked outside the gym, where he sleeps. He also talks about sleeping in sheds, cars, and on fighters’ beds.

Lastly, the documentary highlights how much love and company fighters get and feel from their teachers and trainers and how important that is to their growth and success in the lonely sport of MMA.

15. Pride Decade

This video would show you if you didn’t know why Pride Fighting Championships (Pride FC) were so popular before the UFC bought them out.

In case you’d like to see plenty of the best MMA fights from the early days of the sport, Pride Decade is one of the best documentaries to watch. The video is about fighting, and Pride, which ran from 1997 to 2007, had almost all of the best MMA champions in the world.

Many of the early competitors who had a significant influence on the organization are featured in Pride Decade. In Pride Decade, they discuss their pre-fight emotions and their life as fighters. Additionally, it highlights the outstanding championship tenure of Fedor Emlianenko, Wanderlei Silva, and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira.

Pride Decade also shows great rivalries, like the one between Japan’s most popular fighter, Kazushi Sakuraba, and the Gracie family. It also shows the rivalry between the UFC and Pride, in which Chuck Liddell is sent to Pride to compete in Pride’s second major Grand Prix tournament, a one-night middleweight tournament with a very strong roster.

Pride Decade is a must-see MMA documentary because of its combat theme. Free on Youtube, parts 1 and 2.


Many MMA supporters and watchers find the sport exciting, thrilling, and full of action. They are unaware that every combatant experiences adversity, uncertainty, or dread. Watching the above-mentioned movies, people can learn about the MMA competitors’ ups and downs, enthusiasm and motivation, and strengths and flaws. The films also give viewers a glimpse into the background of the sport.

Each documentary provides a different motivation and tale. Whether you are a beginner in the MMA world or a wannabe combatant, these 15 best UFC/MMA documentaries are a good place to start.

Hopefully, the documents will teach you. Keep in mind that each fight is meant to inspire and reveal the truth in every blow or wrestling.

Golam Muktadir is a passionate sports fan and a dedicated movie buff. He has been writing about both topics for over a decade and has a wealth of knowledge and experience to share with his readers. Muktadir has a degree in journalism and has written for several well-known publications, including Surprise Sports.