One of the side effects of MMA’s growth has been documentaries and behind-the-scenes looks into the lives of those that have either made it or those that want to make it in the fight game.
One of those very films is 2011’s Fightville, which gained some steam due to one of its likeable main stars making it into the UFC. Now, one of the sport’s most notable documentaries of the past few years debuts on Showtime Friday at 9:30 PM EST, giving a new audience a look into the regional MMA scene in small-town Louisiana.
We’re first introduced to Gil Guillory, a man that learned the craft of promoting through his days as a small-level professional wrestler. Guillory understands what it takes to make a dent and focuses on how “we’re not selling fights, we’re selling entertainment.”
At least as he’s portrayed, Guillory comes off as a hard worker. He is relentless in putting together good shows and letting everyone possible know why they should come. Much of the film focuses on the fighters’ attempts to rise to glory but Guillory also has a plot thread in building to his first major venue show at the Cajundome.
The first fighter we meet understands the show business aspect and even practices his staredowns in the mirror. Albert Stainback is kind of an odd guy, a man that beats his chest as an homage to humans “coming from monkeys”. He doesn’t believe in God and buses tables to get by.
After 17 amateur fights, Stainback is prepping for his first pro bout. Apparently, his girlfriend is a stripper and they are behind on rent. The cash-strapped young fighter going for the dream is just one of the usual MMA memes spun throughout Fightville, along with attempting to articulate fighting on a spiritual level, associating fighters with warriors, etc.
Along the path, a few familiar faces come along in current UFC featherweight contender Dustin Poirier and UFC/TUF alum Tim Credeur, who runs the small school where Stainback, Poirier and others train at. The filming is done as Poirier is still working the small show circuit and while he’s got a lot of upside, “potential has a time limit.” Guillory isn’t sure if he’ll meet that potential.
If there is a standout in Fightville, it very well may be the well-spoken and intense Credeur, a military veteran who demands respect and will beat it out of you if you don’t show it. One such example is his philosophy on training. One of his charges — Corey Judice — hasn’t been training but has a fight coming up. To teach him a lesson on why you don’t skip out, Credeur works him over in sparring to teach him a lesson.
The rest of the movie is predictable, but still worth a watch. We get the tough luck backstories of Poirier and Stainback, the latter of which signs a pro contract that is nothing more than a handwritten note on a piece of paper. He attempts to pull off a Clockwork Orange-style vibe in his entrance with derby hat, white dress shirt and white pants, “Singin’ In The Rain” accompanying his walkout.
We see Poirier dole out a Credeur-style beating to Stainback after he takes three months off training due to lack of motivation. The method has a gang-style initiation vibe to it, leaving an odd “I get it but don’t get it” feel for anyone who has trained in martial arts before.
Everything leads up to the Cajundome show with Guillory “scared to death” about losing his shirt. Through the story, you understand why Poirier made it and why Stainback didn’t. There’s no Rocky story here by any means, but you do find yourself rooting for Guillory to succeed in the big show and for everything to work out.
For those that read this site regularly, Fightville isn’t going to blow your doors off and you probably won’t pick up anything new in the way of insight. However, it’s a fun look at the Louisiana scene, the background of a young UFC talent who could wear gold someday and what happens when an equally talented fighter loses interest.
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