“Eye for an Eye” Movie Review: The First British-Bangladeshi MMA Fighter

Editorial Board

“My goal was to get into the UFC,” says Mok Rahman clad in a black hoodie and sweats from his gym in Portsmouth, England. The 44-year-old first-generation British-Bangladeshi MMA fighter stands tall at 5’10, 220 lbs with a massive build, but carries this cheerful and bubbly personality, whether talking to his neighborhood friends or people from his gym. Rahman, lovingly referred to as “Mok,” by his family and friends, is a local legend for his remarkable run as an MMA fighter, in an immigrant community where such goals within sports are oftentimes unheard of. 

More notably, the first British Bangladeshi MMA fighter has been making headlines and now has a live documentary on Mok’s story and struggle. Eye for an Eye is an original documentary directed by Mos Hannan including Assistant Producer Kaliph Rahman and Shubho Hassan, all three first-generation British Bangladeshis as well. Telling the story of a local community hero and standout, Hannan’s documentary does the much-needed job of narrating Mok’s life story and career as an MMA fighter.

Hannan gives us a glimpse of the life of Mok Rahman through scenes of the documentary—training at the gym, reminiscing about his meteoric rise, walking through his neighborhood and interacting with his everyday friends and family. Eye for an Eye puts you in the shoes of someone who grew up in the neighborhood and community of Mok, while literally doing so. On that note, what is unique is that the director and star of the documentary both being Sylheti-Bengali allow for the often unheard-of dimension of being Bengali, Muslim, and having an immigrant background as a pro-athlete.

When Mok is posed with the question of what his community and family thought of his decision to be an MMA fighter, Mok smirks and breaks off into Bangla by impersonating the average response to his uncommon profession: Eta kita korteh? Fagol hoye geseh ki na? (“Why would you want to do that? Have you gone crazy or something?”).

Narrating an athlete’s rise from the perspective of a co-ethnic who shares the same background and cultural expectations, endows Eye for an Eye the unique angle of how Mok’s own perspective played into his decision and how as a result, his success is so profound and unprecedented. 

The beginning of the documentary shows Mok reflecting on his career while training. Clips of Mok pummeling opponents with lightning speed and tiger-like ferocity punctuate his gleeful narration of his rise. Fighting to Mok means that he will “fight anybody,” that all challenges are good challenges and fear of an opponent seems unimaginable. Mok seems completely unshaken by any of his competition, even when recounting his tragic loss and injury. The scene is thrilling, the pro-fighter is breaking off into storytime, but the tale has its climax as well as its challenge. 

Mok’s phenomenal success in the ring brought him to Cage Warriors in 2012, at the height of his fighting career. At the time, Cage Warriors was the biggest promotion in the UK which was then branching internationally. In 2012, Cage Warriors was held in Dubai, where Mok came face to face with Bradley Scott. While fighting against UFC Veteran Bradley Scott, Mok is pummeled instead, crashing to the ground and injuring his eye permanently. Bradley Scott later made it to the UFC.

Mok’s overall fighting record is 13-4. However, the fight with Scott left him injured for life after his appearance in Dubai at Cage Warriors. Hence the name of the documentary, Eye for an Eye, Mok today carries his battle scar as a result of his defeat in the cage. He lives with his wife and kids in Portsmouth now.

Eye for an Eye is also about the story of one of the many combat sports competitors who don’t make it. Rahman left fighting for good after his injury for life. Today, he trains young people trying the ropes at MMA—for free even, as his way of giving back to the community. 

Mok arises from his fighting career with many unique assets; one clearly being his roots as a first-generation British-Bangladeshi from Portsmouth. Another is Mok’s Gladiator shorts as a unique asset. Mok is just one of a handful of MMA fighters and boxers to wear gladiator shorts, as a stand-out feature among other such features.

When community friends like Director Mos Hannah are asked ‘why does Mok Rahman wear gladiator shorts,’ Mos replies, “he’s “just a madman.” 

Eye for an Eye is a masterpiece of a documentary, a well-told story of someone who started off with daunting odds and of course, a work of art by the community on one of the pillars of pride within that same British-Bangladeshi community.

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