MMA documentaries have become commonplace over the past few years, but rarely do they come with an objective, well-rounded perspective on the brutal sport we subscribe to. ‘Fight Life' attempts to offer an insightful viewpoint on MMA by following the lives of two notable athletes in MMA at vastly different stages in their careers - Jake Shields and Lyle Beerbohm.
The documentary profiles both fighters between the years 2009-11, with Beerbohm preparing for his fight against Duane "Bang" Ludwig and Jake Shield against "Ruthless" Robbie Lawler. Both fighters competed under the Strikeforce banner, but with Shields headlining the flagships show, while Beerbohm fought on the Challengers show.
Many other fighters and notable figures in MMA make appearances during the documentary, as Director James Z. Feng goes inside the Cesar Gracie fight camp, where he interviews the likes of Nick and Nate Diaz, Gilbert Melendez and head coach Cesar Gracie. The fighters detailed the proceedings of a regular day in training, while Gracie explained how fighters such as Shields and Diaz elevated their respective games by practicing with each other on a regular basis. For those who have never seen the "Scrap pack" in their natural environment, this is a compelling portion of the documentary.
Even though it is intriguing to watch, the Shields section of the documentary is relatively standard portrayal of a fighter ahead of his scheduled fight, and is certainly not, in my opinion, the highlight of the movie. On the other hand, Beerbohm's story is a more empathetic underdog story about a former drug dealer and meth addict turned (at the time) undefeated fighter, and serves the purpose of humanizing the fighters by giving viewers a hard look into the dirtier aspects of a fighter's life. Both Beerbohm's mother and father are interviewed at varying parts of the documentary, as they detailed their son's troubled past, as well his 180 degree flip since finding his new "addiction," MMA.
Apart from focusing on the pre-fight happenings of the two athletes, the documentary touches upon the issues of fighter pay and insurance, which are problems that many MMA fighters deal with during their respective careers. Fighters such as Frank Shamrock make appearances to discuss these aspects of the fight game and offer their experience on the matter.
Overall, ‘Fight Life' is a riveting depiction of the positive and negative aspects of MMA. While it is mainly done through the perspective of two fighters at varying points in their respective careers, it extends further across the MMA landscape and informs the casual viewers about several important facets of the fight game that do not take place inside the cage.
Fight Life' is available for a rental on iTunes for $3.99 and $9.99 to buy. The film can also be purchased at www.fightlife.tv.