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Showtime’s ‘Tough Guys’ documentary explores MMA’s early roots in 1980s Pittsburgh

tough guys article

Showtime has a treat for MMA fans that debuts Friday on the premium-cable channel.

“Tough Guys” is a 90-minute documentary that airs at 9 p.m. ET/PT on the primary Showtime channel.

The film takes a look at MMA’s origins and development, specifically in Pittsburgh in the 1980s. Before the boxing-centric “Toughman” contests tested the limits of loosely regulated combat and creeped into the mainstream, “Tough Guys” events in Steel City gave us a glimpse of what would become the MMA we know today.

The documentary is executive produced by critically acclaimed filmmaker Morgan Spurlock (“Super Size Me”) and Academy Award winner Ross Kauffman (“Born Into Brothels”). And it contains a surprisingly large amount of footage from those events.

A few MMAjunkie writers watched a screener of the film and highly recommend it.

Here’s the description from, which currently has a 9.3/10 rating for “Tough Guys”:

“Ten years before the debut of the Ultimate Fighting Championship, two karate promoters and their fighters, a rough group of barroom brawlers, bikers, teachers and steel workers, pioneered the first mixed-martial arts league in the nation.”

Check out a preview above, or go to

Coincidentally, the film debuts on the eve of UFC Fight Night 116, which airs Saturday on FS1 from Pittsburgh’s PPG Paints Arena.

Showtime's 'Tough Guys' documentary explores MMA's early roots in 1980s Pittsburgh

tough guys showtime