Skip to Content

20 Best MMA Movies of All Time

Heorhii Rysak

The art of mixed martial arts (MMA) transcends the confines of the octagon, spilling over into the vibrant world of cinema with as much force and fervor as the sport itself. Capturing the raw spirit of MMA, Best MMA Movies in this genre offer a potent blend of action, emotion, and the indomitable human spirit. This article celebrates the very best of these cinematic knockouts, providing a ringside seat to the Top Mixed Martial Arts Movies.

Warrior (2011)

Director: Gavin O’Connor

Tagline: “Fight for Family, Fight for Honor”

Stars: Tom Hardy, Joel Edgerton, Nick Nolte

MMA Cameos: Nate Marquardt, Rashad Evans, Stephan Bonnar

Duration: 140 minutes

Budget: ~$25 million

“Warrior” (2011) is an emotionally charged sports drama that delves into the world of MMA, where two estranged brothers, Tommy and Brendan, find themselves on a collision course inside the ring. Tommy, a haunted ex-Marine played by Tom Hardy, returns to his hometown and seeks redemption through a high-stakes tournament. His brother, Brendan, portrayed by Joel Edgerton, is a high school physics teacher struggling to keep his family financially afloat. In a desperate bid, he reenters the competitive fighting world. Their paths converge in a climactic battle that becomes about much more than just the prize money. Directed by Gavin O’Connor, the film is a poignant exploration of family, forgiveness, and the personal costs of victory.

Never Back Down (2008)

Director: Jeff Wadlow

Tagline: “Win or Go Down Fighting”

Stars: Sean Faris, Djimon Hounsou, Amber Heard

MMA Cameos: None of significant note

Duration: 113 minutes

Budget: ~$20 million

“Never Back Down” (2008) is an action-packed drama set against the backdrop of high school rivalry and the adrenaline-fueled world of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA). The film follows rebellious teen Jake Tyler, portrayed by Sean Faris, who, after a troubling move to Orlando, finds himself baited into an underground fight club led by the charismatic and enigmatic Max Cooperman, played by Evan Peters. Under the guidance of veteran fighter Jean Roqua, acted by Djimon Hounsou, Jake embarks on a journey to master his temper and hone his fighting skills to face the formidable and ruthless champion Ryan McCarthy, played by Cam Gigandet. The movie meshes the angst of teenage drama with the physicality of MMA, culminating in a high-stakes showdown that teaches lessons of discipline, respect, and the importance of channeling rage into something positive.

Redbelt (2008)

Director: David Mamet

Tagline: “The Fight is Rigged, but Honor is Real”

Stars: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Tim Allen, Alice Braga

MMA Cameos: Randy Couture, Enson Inoue

Duration: 99 minutes

Budget: ~$7 million

“Redbelt” (2008) is a unique fusion of martial arts action and personal drama, written and directed by acclaimed playwright David Mamet. The story revolves around Mike Terry, a principled Jiu-Jitsu instructor portrayed by Chiwetel Ejiofor, who avoids the competition scene, believing fighting should be about self-defense rather than sport. However, a series of unfortunate events, including an accidental discharge of a police officer’s firearm in his dojo, drags him into the competitive world he has long avoided. Struggling to keep his dojo afloat and his integrity intact, Terry is pulled into the murky waters of the fight industry. The film explores the conflict between martial arts philosophy and the commercialization of the sport, set against a noirish Los Angeles backdrop, and it stands out for its authenticity and exploration of the warrior’s path beyond the ring.

Flash Point (2007)

Director: Wilson Yip

Tagline: “Fists, Fury, and Firepower”

Stars: Donnie Yen, Louis Koo, Collin Chou

MMA Cameos: None, predominantly a martial arts film

Duration: 88 minutes

Budget: N/A

“Flash Point” (2007) is a high-octane action film from Hong Kong, featuring the martial arts dynamo Donnie Yen as Detective Sergeant Ma Jun. Known for his uncompromising and fierce methods, Ma Jun is pitted against a trio of formidable Vietnamese gangsters who are on the brink of sparking a major gang war. As tensions rise, the line between lawful restraint and vengeful obsession begins to blur for Ma Jun, particularly after his undercover operative Wilson (played by Louis Koo) is compromised. Directed by Wilson Yip, the film is a showcase of Yen’s mixed martial arts skills, blending various fighting styles like MMA, judo, and Brazilian jiu-jitsu, with traditional Chinese martial arts. “Flash Point” culminates in an explosively choreographed finale that pushes the boundaries of on-screen martial arts realism and intensity.

Here Comes the Boom (2012)

Director: Frank Coraci

Tagline: “One Teacher Still Makes the Grade with a Knockout”

Stars: Kevin James, Salma Hayek, Henry Winkler

MMA Cameos: Krzysztof Soszynski, Bas Rutten

Duration: 105 minutes

Budget: ~$42 million

“Here Comes the Boom” (2012) is a heartwarming comedy with a punch, starring Kevin James as Scott Voss, a once-energetic high school biology teacher who becomes an unlikely MMA fighter. When budget cuts threaten to cancel the school’s music program and lay off its teacher, played by Henry Winkler, Scott starts to raise money by moonlighting as a mixed martial arts fighter, despite having no experience. Throughout his improbable journey, Scott gains something more than just money: he earns the school’s respect and reignites his own passion for teaching. With its blend of humor and action, the film delivers both laughs and excitement, as well as showcasing MMA’s potential to change lives in and out of the ring. Cameos by real-life fighters like Bas Rutten add authenticity and fun to this inspiring underdog story.

Fighting (2009)

Director: Dito Montiel

Tagline: “Some Dreams Are Worth the Fight”

Stars: Channing Tatum, Terrence Howard

MMA Cameos: Cung Le

Duration: 105 minutes

Budget: ~$25 million

“Fighting” (2009) is a gritty urban drama that dives into the underground world of unsanctioned street fighting. Channing Tatum stars as Shawn MacArthur, a young hustler who scrapes by selling counterfeit goods in New York City. When Shawn’s fighting prowess catches the eye of seasoned scam artist Harvey Boarden, played by Terrence Howard, he is introduced to the illicit circuit of no-holds-barred street fighting, offering him a chance to win significant money and perhaps a sense of purpose. As Shawn ascends the ranks, he faces tougher opponents and the risk of being swallowed by the corrupt world he’s stepping into. The movie paints a vivid picture of a man fighting for a better life, blending intense action sequences with a narrative that explores themes of survival and redemption in the concrete jungle of NYC.

Blood and Bone (2009)

Director: Ben Ramsey

Tagline: “Justice Delivered with a Single Blow”

Stars: Michael Jai White, Eamonn Walker, Julian Sands

MMA Cameos: Bob Sapp, Kimbo Slice, Gina Carano

Duration: 93 minutes

Budget: N/A

“Blood and Bone” (2009) is a raw, action-packed film that follows the story of Isaiah Bone, played by the charismatic and formidable Michael Jai White, who enters the fierce world of underground fighting after being released from prison. Bone’s motives go beyond personal gain: he’s on a quest to fulfill a promise to a fallen friend and to bring justice to one of the city’s most notorious crime lords. In this gritty and brutal arena, Bone must use his superior fighting skills and strategic intelligence to navigate through a series of battles, leading up to the ultimate showdown. The film is renowned for its authentic and well-choreographed fight scenes that showcase various martial arts disciplines, making it a standout in the genre and a testament to honor and loyalty in the face of adversity.

Undisputed II: Last Man Standing (2006)

Director: Isaac Florentine

Tagline: “The Champion of the Cell Block”

Stars: Michael Jai White, Scott Adkins

MMA Cameos: None of significant note

Duration: 98 minutes

Budget: N/A

“Undisputed II: Last Man Standing” (2006) is a gripping action film that thrusts viewers into the brutal world of prison boxing. Michael Jai White stars as George “Iceman” Chambers, a former heavyweight boxing champion who finds himself wrongfully imprisoned in Russia. Facing a new realm of fighting, Chambers is coerced into participating in a savage mixed martial arts competition. Scott Adkins, playing the role of Yuri Boyka, emerges as Chambers’ formidable nemesis—a ruthless fighter who seeks to establish himself as the undisputed champion. As Chambers adapts to the unforgiving rules of MMA, he battles not only for his reputation but also for his survival. The movie delivers hard-hitting action and a compelling narrative, setting the stage for the rise of Boyka as a cult favorite among martial arts enthusiasts.

Born a Champion (2021)

Director: Alex Ranarivelo

Tagline: “A Fighter’s Heart Never Ages”

Stars: Sean Patrick Flanery, Dennis Quaid, Katrina Bowden

MMA Cameos: Edson Barboza, Mickey Gall

Duration: 112 minutes

Budget: N/A

“Born a Champion” (2021) is an inspirational martial arts drama centered around the life of Mickey Kelley, one of the first American black belts in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, played by Sean Patrick Flanery. After a devastating defeat in Dubai, where he faced cheating by his opponent, Mickey disappears from the competitive martial arts world, leaving behind rumors of foul play and a life-changing injury. Years later, video of the fight surfaces, prompting the aging underdog to return to the ring for a rematch against the reigning champion, laying it all on the line for honor and redemption. Alongside Flanery, Dennis Quaid adds depth to the narrative, playing Mickey’s best friend and confidant. “Born a Champion” is a tale of love, loss, and perseverance, showcasing the human spirit’s capacity to triumph over adversity.

The Warrior’s Way (2010)

Director: Sngmoo Lee

Tagline: “Sword Against Six-Shooters”

Stars: Dong-gun Jang, Kate Bosworth, Geoffrey Rush

MMA Cameos: None, as it is a martial arts/fantasy film

Duration: 100 minutes

Budget: ~$42 million

“The Warrior’s Way” (2010) is a visually striking action-fantasy film that combines martial arts with a Western setting. The story follows Yang, played by South Korean actor Jang Dong-gun, who is a warrior and the world’s greatest swordsman of the Sad Flutes clan. After refusing to complete a mission that goes against his honor, Yang flees to the American West with a baby he saved, landing in a dilapidated circus town amongst a host of colorful characters. There, he befriends Lynne, portrayed by Kate Bosworth, a knife-thrower with vengeance in her heart, and Ron, the town drunk and once-great warrior, played by Geoffrey Rush. As Yang attempts to lay down his sword for a peaceful life, his past catches up with him, leading to an explosive confrontation where the swordsman’s skill is matched against gunslingers of the West, blurring the lines between Eastern and Western action cinema.

The Fighter (2010)

Director: David O. Russell

Tagline: “Every Punch Is a Story”

Stars: Mark Wahlberg, Christian Bale, Amy Adams

MMA Cameos: None, focuses on boxing

Duration: 116 minutes

Budget: ~$25 million

“The Fighter” (2010), directed by David O. Russell, is a potent biographical drama charting the ascent of boxer “Irish” Micky Ward (Mark Wahlberg) and his turbulent relationship with half-brother Dicky Eklund (Christian Bale). Eklund, a former boxer whose life spiraled into drugs and crime, serves as Micky’s unreliable coach, steering him to a string of losses. Faced with a failing career, Micky is buoyed by his girlfriend Charlene (Amy Adams) and a new no-nonsense trainer. His resulting comeback intertwines familial strife with professional bouts, depicting Micky’s fight for a title as a metaphor for his struggle against life’s hardships, crafting a narrative of grit, familial bonds, and the relentless pursuit of triumph despite overwhelming odds.

Undisputed III: Redemption (2010)

Director: Isaac Florentine

Tagline: “Fight for Freedom, Strike for Vengeance”

Stars: Scott Adkins, Mykel Shannon Jenkins

MMA Cameos: None of significant note

Duration: 96 minutes

Budget: N/A

“Undisputed III: Redemption” (2010) marks the return of Scott Adkins as Yuri Boyka, the fearsome Russian martial artist from the previous “Undisputed” installment. In this chapter, Boyka, grappling with a knee injury sustained in “Undisputed II,” is relegated to the depths of prison life. When an international prison fighting tournament promises freedom to the victor, Boyka must reclaim his dignity and fighting prowess. Despite his initial hesitation due to his injury, the lure of redemption and a return to glory proves too strong to resist. Directed by Isaac Florentine, the film elevates the action with its high-stakes combat scenes and the protagonist’s journey of self-discovery. “Undisputed III: Redemption” not only showcases MMA-style fighting but also delves into the human spirit’s resilience and the profound quest for second chances.

D.O.A.: Dead or Alive (2006)

Director: Corey Yuen

Tagline: “This Tournament Is Killer”

Stars: Jaime Pressly, Holly Valance, Sarah Carter

MMA Cameos: None, as it is based on a video game

Duration: 87 minutes

Budget: ~$21 million

“D.O.A.: Dead or Alive” (2006), directed by Corey Yuen, brings to life the eponymous video game in an action-packed cinematic spectacle. The film assembles an eclectic cast of fighters, including Jaime Pressly, Holly Valance, and Devon Aoki, as they’re invited to an exclusive martial arts tournament on a remote island. The plot revolves around each character’s personal journey and their interconnected backstories, leading them to face off in various combat challenges. With a blend of skilled martial arts, high-flying acrobatics, and beach volleyball, the film maintains a light-hearted tone amidst the action. As the tournament progresses, the fighters uncover a nefarious plot by the event’s organizer, Donovan, played by Eric Roberts, leading them to band together to fight a common enemy. “D.O.A.” is a visually engaging tale of camaraderie, betrayal, and the quest for victory.

Brawler (2011)

Director: Chris Sivertson

Tagline: “In the Ring of Life, Fight Your Demons”

Stars: Nathan Grubbs, Marc Senter

MMA Cameos: None of significant note

Duration: 84 minutes

Budget: N/A

“Brawler” (2011), set against the gritty backdrop of the New Orleans underground fighting scene, is a raw depiction of the brutal realities of street fighting. The film follows two brothers, Charlie and Bobby Fontaine, who find themselves entangled in the ruthless world of illegal fighting. As they make a name for themselves, their bond is tested by rivalry, greed, and betrayal. Fueled by a volatile mix of family loyalty and violent ambition, the brothers must confront each other and the consequences of their actions. This intense drama explores the darker aspects of MMA culture, where the fight for survival outside the ring is as dangerous as the battle within it. “Brawler” is a compelling narrative about blood ties, honor, and the price one pays for plunging into the depths of underground violence.

Fightville (2011)

Director: Petra Epperlein, Michael Tucker

Tagline: “Where Fighting’s Not a Game, It’s a Life”

Stars: Gil Guillory, Dustin Poirier (as themselves)

MMA Cameos: Several real MMA fighters appear as themselves

Duration: 85 minutes

Budget: N/A (documentary)

“Fightville” (2011) is a documentary that dives deep into the gritty world of lower-tier mixed martial arts, capturing the lives of aspiring fighters in Southern Louisiana. The film, directed by Petra Epperlein and Michael Tucker, shifts its focus between the physical rigors of training and the personal sacrifices made by the fighters, highlighting their dedication and the stark reality of their challenging career path. At the center of the narrative is Dustin Poirier, who would eventually become a top contender in the UFC. “Fightville” showcases the raw and often overlooked aspects of MMA—the dedication, discipline, and the pursuit of a dream amidst the hardscrabble circuit of amateur fighting. It’s a poignant portrayal of the sport, offering insight into what it takes to climb the ranks and what drives these athletes to endure despite minimal recognition and financial reward.

Tapped Out (2014)

Director: Allan Ungar

Tagline: “He’s Got One Chance to Even the Score”

Stars: Michael Biehn, Cody Hackman, Krzysztof Soszynski

MMA Cameos: Anderson Silva, Lyoto Machida

Duration: 105 minutes

Budget: N/A

“Tapped Out” (2014) is a martial arts drama that narrates the tale of redemption through the journey of Michael Shaw, played by Cody Hackman, a troubled teenager who’s sentenced to community service at a rundown karate school. Entering an MMA tournament to face the man who killed his parents, Shaw finds mentorship under a former MMA champion. The film intricately weaves Shaw’s quest for vengeance with his path to inner peace and forgiveness, driven by the discipline of martial arts. With cameos from MMA legends like Anderson Silva and Lyoto Machida, “Tapped Out” offers authentic fight scenes and an inspiring storyline, reminding viewers of the transformative power of martial arts and the importance of facing one’s demons in and out of the ring.

Occupation: Fighter (2011)

Director: Andre Enzensberger

Tagline: “In the Cage, Every Fight Is Personal”

Stars: Chad George (as himself)

MMA Cameos: Josh Barnett, Dan Hardy

Duration: 85 minutes

Budget: N/A (documentary)

“Occupation: Fighter” (2011) is a riveting documentary chronicling eight months in the life of Chad George, an MMA fighter nearing the sport’s pinnacle. The film intimately captures the exhaustive regime and personal sacrifices of a fighter: grueling training, drastic weight cuts, financial hardship, and relationship strains. It lays bare the sheer tenacity required in MMA—not just physical, but mental resilience. Viewers are drawn into George’s world, sharing in his dreams, battles, and the relentless drive needed to chase a dream within the punishing confines of the fighting world. More than a sports documentary, “Occupation: Fighter” is a testament to the human spirit, spotlighting the life of a fighter with raw honesty, inside and outside the cage.

Haywire (2011)

Director: Steven Soderbergh

Tagline: “They Left Her No Choice But to Finish Them”

Stars: Gina Carano, Ewan McGregor, Michael Fassbender

MMA Cameos: None of significant note

Duration: 93 minutes

Budget: ~$23 million

“Haywire” (2011) is a kinetic espionage thriller directed by Steven Soderbergh that stars MMA fighter Gina Carano as Mallory Kane, a highly skilled operative for a government security contractor. After a successful mission in Barcelona, Mallory is betrayed and left for dead by someone in her own agency. Utilizing her lethal skills, she embarks on a mission to uncover the truth and bring those responsible to justice. Shot with a slick, stylistic approach, the film weaves together intense hand-to-hand combat sequences that showcase Carano’s fighting prowess, with a star-studded supporting cast including Ewan McGregor, Michael Fassbender, and Channing Tatum. “Haywire” is a pulse-pounding action film that subverts the spy genre with a powerful female lead and riveting fight choreography, providing a raw and realistic portrayal of a woman’s fight against deception and conspiracy.

Like Water (2011)

Director: Pablo Croce

Tagline: “In the Fight Flow, Be Like Water”

Stars: Anderson Silva (as himself)

MMA Cameos: Several real MMA fighters appear as themselves

Duration: 76 minutes

Budget: N/A (documentary)

“Like Water” (2011) is an introspective documentary that centers on the life and career of Anderson Silva, one of the most enigmatic and dominant champions in the history of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA). The film’s title references Bruce Lee’s famous philosophy to “be like water,” a mantra Silva embodies as he prepares to defend his title. The documentary provides a candid look at the rigorous training and mental preparation that goes into a championship fight. It also delves into Silva’s personal life, revealing a side of him that fans seldom see—the devoted father, the humble competitor, and the philosophical fighter. “Like Water” captures the essence of martial arts not just as a sport, but as a way of life, and showcases Silva’s relentless pursuit of greatness and the grace with which he handles both victory and the pressures of being at the top.

Ip Man (2008)

Director: Wilson Yip

Tagline: “The celebrated Kung Fu master of Bruce Lee.”

Stars: Donnie Yen (as Ip Man), Simon Yam, Lynn Hung, and Siu-Wong Fan.

MMA Cameos: There are no mainstream Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fighters making cameos in this film. “Ip Man” is a semi-biographical account of Yip Man, the first martial arts master to teach the Chinese martial art of Wing Chun. The film focuses on events in his life that supposedly took place in the city of Foshan during the Sino-Japanese War.

Duration: 108 minutes.

Budget: Approximately $11.715 million USD (estimated 100 million Hong Kong dollars).

“Ip Man” (2008) is a gripping, biographical martial arts film that dramatizes the life of the legendary Wing Chun grandmaster Yip Man, masterfully portrayed by Donnie Yen. Set against the turmoil of the Sino-Japanese War, it showcases Ip Man’s unwavering spirit as he rises against foreign oppression. Amidst personal tribulation and the suffering of his compatriots, Ip Man remains a pillar of strength, using his skills to safeguard his family and uphold the dignity of his people. The film brilliantly blends intense, stylistic combat with poignant emotional depth, reflecting on the essence of martial arts beyond the fight: honor, respect, and the resilience of the human spirit. Directed by Wilson Yip, the film transcends action-packed sequences to tell a compelling story of resistance, making “Ip Man” a standout masterpiece in martial arts cinema.


The 19 films highlighted in this article encapsulate the essence of Mixed Martial Arts, transcending mere combat to tell rich, varied stories of human struggle and triumph. From the gripping emotional core of “Warrior” to the gritty determination portrayed in “Blood and Bone,” these movies go beyond the octagon to deliver poignant narratives about the indomitable human spirit. They champion themes of redemption, resilience, and the relentless pursuit of dreams, resonating with audiences far beyond MMA enthusiasts. These films remind us that the fight within is the most formidable of all, offering a window into the universal battle against life’s adversities. Collectively, they don’t just represent the pinnacle of Best Mix Martial Arts Movies; they stand as powerful testaments to perseverance and the enduring human will. You may also be interested in our review of Best MMA Gloves, you can watch it here