The MMA community might believe they have a good idea of Reza Madadi’s character, but a new documentary, ‘Mad Dog—from Chaos to Comeback,’ gives us an entirely new insight into the Iranian fighter.
The film focuses on Madadi’s comeback at UFC Dublin after his 14-month imprisonment for the aggravated burglary of a designer handbag store, which took place in May 2013. The documentary reveals that the take from the robbery was 1.7 million Swedish kronor, but in the very first scene ‘Mad Dog’ makes it very clear that the media coverage of the robbery convicted him long before the Stockholm district court passed their judgment, three months after the incident.
“When a normal person goes down, no one gets to hear of it,” Madadi tells us in the opening shots. “The only ones who know are the family, and when he gets out, everything’s rosy. But in my case, everyone knew.
“People say I must be guilty because of the glass splinters on my clothes. I must be guilty because the papers say I am. So what happens when an onlooker (hears the story), they think it was Reza Madadi. You know yourself the power of the media.”
Madadi takes us back through his humble beginnings in Tehran and explains how “brutal” beatings at the hands of his older brother may have helped him in his later career as a fighter. The films shows how a young Madadi was given his introduction to combat sport through the Uppsala Athletics Club, where he trained in wrestling as a young teenager.
Several of his Allstars teammates appear throughout the documentary including former light-heavyweight contender Alexander Gustafsson. With the help of his training partners, coaches, manager and family members, we are taken back through the controversial fighter’s career in which his gameness and willingness to rise to any challenge are cited as some of his primary attributes.
Interestingly, the film shows that such is the love that the Swedish fans have for Madadi that he won the Swedish MMA Gala ‘People’s Prize’ on three occasions, despite the fact that Gustafsson was also one of the nominees for the award. Given that his arrest and aggression were central to most of the articles printed about him ahead of UFC Dublin, it’s amazing to think the Iranian was more of a fan favorite that a man considered that MMA front-runner in the country.
We get to see a completely different side to the energetic, grinding fighter over 70 beautifully shot minutes. The caring and sensitive side to ‘Mad Dog’ is revealed through tender moments with his wife, mother, and children. As pointed out by several fighters and the protagonist himself, there appears to be a definite separation between the ‘Mad Dog’ MMA personality, and Reza Madadi, the family man, and friend.
The documentary shows Madadi’s reactions to his war of words with Parke. The infamous weigh-in between the two gained international coverage when the Northern Irishman threw a pink handbag at Madadi, poking fun at his arrest for the burglary back in 2013. Although we know the result of the fight, it doesn’t take away from the compelling comeback story of ‘Mad Dog’, and the film ends with the Stockholm-based lightweight explaining his plans for the future.
The only thing you can criticize the film for is the lack of fight footage they were able to show from Madadi’s UFC career. However, the filmmakers did an amazing job of capturing the legendary energy that the Irish fans can bring to a fight night.
The beatings suffered at the hands of his brother, his immigration to Sweden as a youth, the stereotypes he endured based on his Iranian lineage and his eventual arrest that resulted in the loss of his freedom, his career, his superficial friendships and precious moments with his new born son—it is clear the Reza Madadi has struggled his whole life.
‘Mad Dog – From Chaos to Comeback,’ is the 37-year-old’s attempt to clear his name on the back of his arrest for a crime that he claims he did not commit. From the damning statements he makes about how the police to overlooked some major evidence before convicting him, to his revelation that he did have some small involvement in the incident, this documentary is a must-see for all diehard MMA fans.
A Swedish edition of the film originally premiered December 27th of 2015 on Sweden’s largest digital newspaper Aftonbladet.se. In just two weeks the film boasted 83,000 views, which made it the most popular sports documentary the newspaper’s sports platform ever hosted.
The film had an international release on February 4 on Vimeo-on-demand and it is available all over the world except for the US. Directors Martin Sandin,
Mauri R. Chifflét and the project’s founding father Christian Albinsson hope to screen the documentary at various film festivals in the US over the coming months, but the team is hopeful that MMA fans in the States will be able to see the film by May.
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