Director Vlad Yudin Talks 'The Hurt Business'

It is a rare opportunity for fans to pull back the curtain and understand an industry from the inside out. It is even more unique to be given a glimpse at the growing industry of mixed martial arts through the eyes of the warriors.

Until now.

The Hurt Business director and producer Vlad Yudin (Generation Iron) sat down with PopCultureNow.com and went into detail about the world of MMA and ultimate fighting.

His film -- which opens September 29, 2016 in select theaters nationwide -- boldly depicts the daily lives of the fighters who make up this sport and shows the positives and begins to explores the downside to what it means to truly be an ultimate fighter.

Featuring Jon Jones, Ronda Rousey, Chuck Liddell, and Holly Holm, The Hurt Business shows how brutal living inside this world can be -- both in and out of the octagon.

Yudin gave us every hard-hitting detail.

What first got you into this style of filmmaking?

Well to be honest, I never separate documentary from feature films. It's about telling a story and expressing what I want to express. Documentaries are something I love to do - it's something my partners and I do very well. I feel like it's very underrated and doesn't get that much respect. I wanted to prove people wrong and get respect for documentary films.

You've covered a wide range of content in the films you've made. What drew you to MMA fighting and that lifestyle?

It was the fact that I didn't understand it very much - the whole sport and culture. I was not a fan of MMA and that's what led me to discovering more about it. And then that's what led to me creating a film about it. Prior to that I made a film about bodybuilding called Generation Iron and it was sort of a similar situation. It was creating a film about a niche sport that no one knew too much about. And through that, I discovered so much about it. And MMA was the same thing. Obviously, it's a much bigger sport in the world right now as far as growth, but at the same time I felt like, specifically from the perspective of the fighters, I wanted to go through their minds and why they choose that sport. And why they choose to dedicate their lives to it.

So what made you choose the people you chose for the film?

Well, when I first started making the film, I was mostly dealing with a lot of amateur and lower level fighters. I got a chance to discover one aspect of it. A lot of the aggressive guys fight in the streets and I got to learn that side of it. And then I started meeting more professionals - championship fighters. And then I discovered a different mentality of fighter. Those guys are very smart. The guys you just mentioned, those are high-caliber athletes. They don't live an aggressive lifestyle at all. They would never get in a fight outside of the job. We followed guys like Rashad Evans and Jon Jones, with a main storyline of MMA and where it comes from, and the other storyline that's the behind-the-scenes journey of these individual athletes' day-to-day life.

Holly
(Photo: The Hurt Business)

Was there a specific approach you took for conveying that day-to-day personal life?

Yeah. From the beginning, I wanted to make a very objective film. I didn't want to censor anything. So whatever these athletes go through, we talk about in the film. A few of them, especially the ones who fought in the early and mid-nineties, they experience a lot of medical issues. They experience head trauma and obviously multiple concussions. The sport really started in the mid to late nineties so there's only been one really sufficient program for the sport and its dangers and it was conducted at Toronto University. It's still in progress of being looked at more. We talk about that program and how concussions can severely hurt your brain. And of course any rational person knows that if you take these hits to the head, that will take a toll on your health. We talk about these things in the film and don't necessarily take a side and present it in an objective way. It's good to hear it's conveyed that way.

HurtBizInterview
(Photo: YouTube / The Hurt Business)

Do you think the sport is on the same level as the NFL or NBA in terms of being mainstream?

It is definitely becoming that. I feel like it's either already on the same level or already beating boxing. And if it's already surpassing boxing, and I know most people will hate to hear that, it can definitely reach those others sports, ratings wise. I can easily call it mainstream now. But in the next five years, it is going to be as big of a monster as the NBA and everything else.

And the UFC going for over four billion dollars probably is early proof of this.

Yeah, the UFC was just sold a couple months ago for 4.4 billion dollars. And obviously is just an organization, and same with Bellator, and there are a lot of other smaller ones as well. That sale itself shows what MMA promotion has a lot of value to it. It's interesting to see that. Yes, that sale was definitely a head-turner.

Rashad
(Photo: The Hurt Business)
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What other stories do you want to tell in the future of your filmmaking?

As far as the feature film documentary goes, you never know. Every day I discover something new and learn something new. We'll see. I've been fortunate enough to make some films that were very interesting for me to work on and also that really connected to the audience. I hope people who watch The Hurt Business and don't know a lot about MMA will be able to discover a whole new world. I'm really focused on developing GenerationIron.com, our digital network for fitness and bodybuilding. We launched it about a year ago after the film. But yeah, we'll see what happens with the feature films.