A STRAIGHTFORWARD PORTRAIT of the lifestyle of professional MMA fighters, Fight Life contains few surprises. Copious filming inside the gym of the subjects sparring, lifting, and grappling demonstrates the physical dedication necessary for the sport, while footage of actual fights is puzzlingly minimal. As in boxing culture, the fighters are often impoverished and uninsured, balancing day jobs with intense training schedules.
The film focuses primarily on two fighters at opposite ends of the spectrum: Jake Shields is a successful competitor, poised for fights that pay six figures, and who lives in a posh San Francisco bachelor pad. Lyle Beerbohm is a fighter on the cusp of mainstream success. The former prison inmate and drug dealer's fight gigs pay out significantly more modestly than Shields', but both fighters are equally grounded in the sweat and determination that is a constant necessity of the field; Shields is virtually ego free, and very aware that on any given day he could win or lose.
Aspiring fighters, or diehard MMA fans, will no doubt be fascinated by Fight Life's intimate portraits—Beerbohm's story, in particular, offers a bit of emotional color thanks to his long-suffering and proud, loving parents. To the casual observer, though, the endless training scenes may be nearly as grueling as it is for the fighters.