A friend and training partner suggested that I watch the movie “Born A Champion.” Initially, I responded with, is this like that Jiu-Jitsu movie that Nicolas Cage was in. He responded with, “No, I will never watch that dumpster fire..” After about a week, my wife and I watched it together and we both genuinely loved it.
The movie follows Mickey, played by Sean Patrick Flanery, a Rickson Gracie Black Belt and one of the first Americans to reach the rank. Mickey teaches private lessons to students out of a McDojo Karate school, pre the legalization of Mix Martial Arts. Without giving too much away, Mickey decides to enter an unsanctioned MMA tournament out that’s taking place in Dubai.
Mickey flies across the world and enters the tournament and competes wearing a traditions Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Gi, just like Royce Gracie did at UFC 1. He goes on to win his first two fights then encounters a disputed loss against Marco, Edson Barboza, that results in some permanent eye damage, ultimately ending his competitive career.
After recovering, Mickey returns home to his family and continues to teach private lessons inside of that McDojo. While life is great with his wife and son, there’s an unfulfilled drive that he can’t quite ignore. Once the video of the tournament hits the internet, fan interest pushes both the fighters and the promotors on another collision course in the desert.
The movie is fantastic. One of my favorite aspects is that it’s the brain child of Sean Patrick Flanery, a legitimate Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Black Belt. Everything from the lingo, the inside jokes, and the authenticity behind the movements during the fight sequences really made the movie. I found myself engrossed almost immediately and enjoyed it from start to finish. The story as well written, casting was spot on, and even tugged at your heart strings.
I highly recommend it.