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Tag: MMA documentaries

Fight Flicks Review: Fight Life Offers a Candid, If Well-Traveled Look Into the Mind of an MMA Fighter

There’s a moment early on in Fight Life in which Jake Shields laments (or comes as close to it as he can while retaining his trademark roboticness) the negative effects his career has had on his personal life.

“Everyone’s always like, ‘What are your hobbies?’ and unfortunately, I don’t really have any hobbies because MMA is my hobby, my job, my career. My whole life revolves around it at this point, you know?”

It’s a statement that both serves as the mission statement of the aptly named Fight Life and one that would perhaps support the idea that MMA fighters are not the most intriguing subjects around which to base a documentary. Fighters fight for their families, or to overcome demons from their past, or simply because it’s all they know. While these may be considered fresh revelations to the most casual of MMA fans, it’s nothing that a seasoned fan of the sport hasn’t been treated to a zillion times over in the lead-up to a UFC event or boxing match. As a result, Fight Life winds up feeling less like an intimate look into the personal lives of guys like Shields and Beerbohm and more like an 80-minute Countdown episode.

Chronicling the lives of Jake Shields and Lyle Beerbohm (among others) in the lead-up to their 2009 fights with Robbie Lawler and Duane Ludwig, respectively, the documentary from James Z. Feng is an equally inspiring and underwhelming look at the daily struggles and triumphs of the professional mixed martial artist. Part of the blame for the film’s shortcomings can be placed on its subjects — or at least Shields, who has never been a charismatic individual despite his accomplishments. But really, the biggest issue facing the film is its outdated perspective. MMA has undergone several huge changes in the time between when Fight Life was shot and its release, and neither Shields nor Beerbohm have exactly become the dominant forces that the documentary attempts to set them up as.

That’s not to say that Fight Life is absent of any compelling moments, however…


[EXCLUSIVE] Fighting in Plain Sight Director Edward Doty Discusses His Upcoming Documentary of Rafiel Torre, MMA’s Most Infamous Journalist Turned Con Man and Killer

(The Fighting in Plain Sight campaign video via IndieGoGo.)

By Jared Jones 

Mixed martial arts was facing an identity crisis in the early aughts to say the least. The UFC had just been purchased by the Fertittas, who were slowly attempting to shed the “human cockfighting” label the sport had acquired in its early years. Although athletic commissions around the country were beginning to adopt the unified rules put into place by Jeff Blatnick, John McCarthy and Joe Silva, a large majority of fights on the local level were still contested in underground, unsanctioned events. There was no fame or fortune fueling these warriors of the early days; there was only passion.

At the center of all this was Rafiel Torre, a charismatic reporter, former undefeated fighter and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Black Belt who covered all aspects of MMA for such prestigious publications as ADCC News and Submission Fighter. Considered one of the most notorious journalists of his day by those closest to the sport, Torre interviewed countless top fighters in an effort to promote and help showcase the human side of mixed martial arts during a time when most audiences viewed it as borderline criminal.

In February of 2001, Torre announced that he was coming out of retirement, supposedly to settle a vendetta with a former student of his, the 300+ pound Ioka Tianuu. The fight transpired at King of the Cage 7 and, aside from being one of the most obvious works in the sport’s history, would ultimately serve as the catalyst to Torre’s demise. Four years later, Torre would be convicted of first degree murder and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Attempting to chronicle this unbelievable story is Edward Doty, a filmmaker and mixed martial arts enthusiast who has been documenting the sport for some 15 years. His first MMA documentary, Life in the Cage, is a must-see for “real” fans of the sport, but it was Doty’s close relationship with Torre that spawned the documentary he is currently attempting to crowdfund through IndieGoGo, Fighting in Plain Sight. We recently sat down with Doty to discuss his love of the sport, the facade that was Rafiel Torre, and what he is looking to accomplish with Fighting in Plain Sight. 

CagePotato: As an amateur filmmaker early in his career, was it the spectacle inherent in MMA that drew you to the sport? 

Edward Doty: I began training in Traditional Martial Arts (Yang style Tai Chi Chuan and Jing Mu Kung Fu) in 1993. In the September ’93 Issue of Black Belt Magazine, I saw an ad for “Tournament to Determine World’s Best Fighter!” I called the number, and Rorion Gracie picked up. It was the line to the Torrance Academy. Being the punk 15 year old that I was, I asked, “Yeah, do you guys have an under 18 division?” clearly not realizing what it was they were trying to do. After a pause, he said, “No….18 and over only” and hung up.

A couple years later I was doing Forms Competition at the Ed Parker tournament in Long Beach, and SEG had a booth set up, advertising UFC 3 and showing UFC 2 on a small TV. The fight? Pat Smith vs. Scott Morris. My life changed at that moment. There was just something so authentic about it. It was exhilirating, kinda scary, but most of all, honest. I still appreciated what I was doing, but it became clear over the next couple of years that Martial Arts was never going to be the same, and that was probably for the better. Two months after turning 18, I fought in the Team USA Shidokan in 1996 and promptly got my face caved in. Even so, I still loved training, and I began BJJ at Jean-Jacques Machado’s academy in 1997. I still train, albeit sporadically, and am a Purple Belt under Eddie Bravo.

My freshman year of college I realized I wanted to take my equally passionate love of Film and make that my career. In 1999 while attending a Neutral Grounds show promoted by my friend Bobby Razak, I realized that there were stories within MMA that needed to be told. That was the genesis of my first film, Life in the Cage.


Sad Video of the Day: ‘The Truth Behind Evan Tanner’s Death’

(Props: Bobby Razak)

Never take for granted anything in life. Never underestimate the surroundings you’re in, be it the city, the mountains, the desert. Once you do, that’s when it comes to say hello to you.” — Charles Lucas, Supervising Deputy Coroner of Imperial County

In advance of a feature-length film about Evan Tanner called 1, MMA filmmaker Bobby Razak has released a 20-minute documentary about the former UFC middleweight champion’s tragic 2008 death from heat exposure, which occurred during a doomed solo adventure in the desert near Palo Verde, California. Through interviews with the coroners and rescue personnel who were directly involved with the case, “The Truth Behind Evan Tanner’s Death” describes the brutal circumstances surrounding Tanner’s last days, and what might have saved his life. It also clears up the theories that the death was a suicide (as some scholars have suggested) or that the famously-troubled Tanner had relapsed on alcohol. And contrary to initial reports, Tanner’s death apparently had nothing to do with his motorcycle running out of gas.

Watching this documentary five years after Tanner’s passing is like ripping open an old wound. Some of it is genuinely hard to watch, and credit goes to Bobby Razak for his ability to take viewers into the hostile environment that killed Tanner, and convey his mounting desperation. If you’d like to donate some cash to help Razak complete the full-length movie, visit the Evan Tanner Film Indiegogo page.


CagePotato Roundtable #23: What Is Your Favorite (Non-Rocky) Fight Movie of All Time?

(Because if Rocky movies were fair game, this column would just be all of us agreeing that Rocky IV was the greatest movie ever made.)

Since we already made a list of what we consider to be the best fight movies of all time, today we’re here to talk about our personal favorites. Just one small rule: In an attempt to keep this column from quickly degrading into a list of Rocky movies, we agreed that none of them would be eligible for inclusion. What we ended up with is a list containing a few legitimate classics, a few cult favorites, and the formula for a damn good movie night with your fellow fight fans this weekend. At least for those of you who won’t be streaming War MMA’s inaugural event on Saturday night, obviously. Read on for our picks, and please continue to send your ideas for future Roundtable topics to

Ben Goldstein – who is making his triumphant return to the CagePotato Roundtable.

(Rather than pick just one memorable scene, we’ve included the whole documentary.)

John Hyams’s 2002 documentary The Smashing Machine is mainly remembered as a cautionary tale — a hard look at a hard sport, full of broken bodies, drug abuse, and predatory behavior of the physical and emotional varieties. And make no mistake, it should be remembered for all of that. It’s absolutely gut-wrenching to watch the downfall of an incredible talent like Mark Kerr, an alpha male who was utterly chewed up by professional fighting.


‘Fightville’ UFC 145 Fight-Picking Contest: The Winners…

Thanks to everybody who entered our UFC 145 fight-picking contest last week! Many entered, but only three were skilled enough to claim the Fightville prize-packages, which include the movie’s official t-shirt from No Mas and a signed poster. The top three pickers were MoshuDragon, Alan K, and TheGangi, who predicted all three winners correctly, and picked unanimous decision victories for Jon Jones and Mac Danzig. Since MoshuDragon also guessed a first-round stoppage for Travis Browne, we’ll call him the unofficial first-place winner and throw in a CagePotato t-shirt.

If your name has been called, please send your real name, address, and shirt-size to and we’ll hook you up ASAP. Follow Fightville on Facebook and Twitter, and watch it now on iTunes.


Review: ‘Fightville’ Captures the Highs and Lows of an Unforgiving Sport

(Props: movieclipsTRAILERS)

By Elias Cepeda

If you ask a movie reviewer what sets great movies apart from good ones, many would tell you that great movies are the ones that manage to transcend their premises. The Rocky series wasn’t about boxing; it was a story of an underdog who succeeded through hard work and determination in the face of impossible odds. Fight Club wasn’t about dudes beating each other up in basements; it was a dirge for our lost masculinity and the rise of anonymous consumerism.

And the new MMA documentary Fightville isn’t about the fighting; it’s about the struggle.

Directed by Petra Epperlein and Michael Tucker — who have previously collaborated on four other full-length features, including the Iraq war documentary Gunner Palace — Fightville is a gritty and thought-provoking glimpse into the human condition that should appeal to fight fans as well as fans of good filmmaking. Simply put, it’s the best MMA documentary since The Smashing Machine.


Just What You’ve Always Wanted: Chuck Liddell/Tito Ortiz Feud Coming to DVD

By Jason Moles

Before I dig in, let’s take a look at what Amazon has to say about this ingenious idea:

Once friends, now bitter enemies, UFC superstars Chuck ”The Iceman” Liddell and ”The Huntington Beach Bad Boy” Tito Ortiz waged intense battles inside and outside of the Octagon. UFC Bad Blood: Liddell vs. Ortiz gives an all access look at the epic feud forged in heated competition over the UFC Championship, and fueled by personal conflict that often boiled over. Through exclusive new interviews, rare behind-the-scenes footage, and hard hitting action from their historic fights, you can re-live the rivalry that helped launch the Ultimate Fighting Championship into the mainstream, and make Chuck Liddell and Tito Ortiz household names that will be forever linked.

Special Features: Countdown to UFC 66, UFC 66: Chuck Liddell vs. Tito Ortiz, and UFC 47: Chuck Liddell vs. Tito Ortiz

Well it’s about time that massive video library is being put to use. One of the most well-known and publicly talked about feuds in mixed martial arts will live forever on DVD and Blu-ray come August 30th, you know, in case you ever want to show your grandkids what human cock fighting looked like. Not sure about you, but wouldn’t this have been a bigger seller last year when Chuck Liddell coached opposite Tito Ortiz on The Ultimate Fighter 11? Rumor has it the DVD was supposed to be released much earlier but had to withdraw from stores due to a bulging disc and a cracked case.

To bring a few of you up to speed…


Miami Hustle: That Man From Cuba

Genghis Con continues his campaign to make you like Mondays, as the second episode of his web-doc Miami Hustle dropped right on schedule. This episode follows decorated Cuban wrestler Alexis Vila as he prepares for his ninth pro MMA fight at flyweight. The episode starts with the final stages of sweating just before weigh-ins, and ends with his fight with OKC-based Lewis McKenzie at MFA New Generation 4 in February. Vila is an impressive talent, and don’t be surprised if you hear his name pop up when people start talking about the UFC’s plans at 125 pounds.

As with pretty much everything Genghis Con does, this is completely worth the time to sit down and watch. The two-man film crew managed to catch some funny stuff, not the least of which is Vila’s girlfriend stunningly bad timing to start with “I need to lose some weight…” Considering that she’s talking to a wrestler — an Olympic wrestler at that — and a pro fighter who’d just weighed in hours before, she’s not going to get much sympathy about how hard it is to shed ten pounds.

Also keep an eye out for Bellator’s Zombifier-in-Chief Hector Lombard, as he comes to watch Vila fight and gift Jorge Masvidal with a big knife, and JZ Cavalcante and Jorge Santiago ditching training to go surfing. Slackers.

You can catch Miami Hustle Monday nights here at 8pm ET, but seeing as how you can barely remember where you left your phone and what pants you’re wearing, we’ll go ahead and remind you next week.



Review: MMA Documentary ‘Fightville’ Is Good for the Sport

(Props: SXSW)

By Fidel Martinez,

I should preface this review by stating that at best I’m a very (very) casual fan of MMA, and at worst I’m completely ignorant about the subtleties of the sport. With that said, I don’t think that admission disqualifies me from writing about a documentary film on the subject. In fact, I think I’m exactly the kind of person that filmmakers Petra Epperlein and Michael Tucker were targeting with Fightville.

The film, which premiered at the SXSW Film Festival on March 12th, profiles four individuals involved in USA-MMA, a “feeder” league based out of Lafayette, Louisiana. The stars are two fighters (Dustin Poirier and Albert Stainback), their trainer (Tim Credeur), and their promoter (Gil Guillory, owner of USA-MMA). Epperlein and Tucker do a fantastic job at showing the nitty-gritty of a lower-level fighting league. From the unglamorous setting-up of the ring in a rodeo to the fighters balancing their personal lives (work, family, etc.) with their full-time job of training, Fightville provides an important contrast to the extravagance of the UFC — with its millions of viewers, hundreds of thousands of dollars in prize money for the headliners, ring girls, and promotional muscle.