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Exclusive: Born A Champion Clip Brings You Right Onto The Jiu-Jitsu Mat

Do you believe in second chances? They're difficult to dole out and even harder to obtain. Just ask, well, anyone who's ever made a mistake or fallen short of their own expectations. The pursuit of redemption after receiving a second chance is at the heart of Born a Champion, the upcoming martial arts film from studio Lionsgate and director Alex Ranarivelo. 

Ahead of the film's release in select theaters and on digital and On Demand on Friday, January 22, Looper is excited to share an exclusive clip from Born a Champion

Dexter and The Boondock Saints actor Sean Patrick Flanery leads Born a Champion as Mickey Kelley, a legendary Brazilian jiu-jitsu practitioner who is devastated after losing a match in Dubai against a talented fighter named Blaine. Years after the bloody match goes down, Mickey — and the world — learns that his opponent actually cheated. This opens the door for Mickey to redeem himself in a rematch against Blaine, but does he have what it takes to emerge the victor this time around? 

Born a Champion also stars Dennis Quaid as Mason, Katrina Bowden as Layla, and Reno Wilson as Terry Pittman, who's featured in the exclusive clip shown above. The scene takes viewers right onto the jiu-jitsu mat, where Mickey is grappling with Travis Prince (Jonathan Kowalsky), a fighter who recently won Brazilian Nationals. The problem is that Mickey doesn't even know who Travis is or what accolades he has under his belt; it's only until after Mickey gives Travis advice, treating him as if he's an amateur on the rise and not already a well-known fighter, that Terry informs him of who he just rolled with. 

"You really don't know what the f*** is going on out in the world, do you?" Terry asks a dumfounded Mickey. "Like I asked you before, what the f*** are you doing here?"

It's quite the reality check for Mickey, who has a long road ahead of him on the journey to vindication.

Born a Champion is a love letter to Brazilian jiu-jitsu

Filmmakers make sports movies for all sorts of different reasons. For some, it's all about bringing to life the thrill of high-stakes competition and heart-stopping action. For others, it's a potential attempt to make characters of their own creation into the next Rocky Balboa. Some might simply like telling stories best when there's basketball or football involved, and others may enjoy sharing real-life tales of sports figures throughout history. But for Born a Champion co-writer and star Sean Patrick Flanery, the film was actually a passion project — one that serves as a love letter to Brazilian jiu-jitsu.

Flanery, who collaborated with Born a Champion director Alex Ranarivelo on the film's script, has trained in various martial arts, but Brazilian jiu-jitsu is the one with which he connected most. He's currently a third-degree black belt in the sport, and he even opened up his own studio to teach BJJ with his own personal flair. As Flanery told The Los Angeles Times back in 2013, "To be a black belt, you have to have all the information and to be able to execute it properly, and you have to be able to convey the information briefly, concisely, and articulately for future generations of Brazilian jiu-jitsu practitioners. Having a black belt is one of my greatest achievements and something I'm very proud of, and I want to be the best teacher I can be."

Speaking about his approach to teaching, Flanery explained that he wanted to "combine the Brazilian technique with the American business model," and to create a "sanctuary" with his BJJ academy. "Inside the doors, everyone is the same," he told The L.A. Times. "We have a common goal, and we're all in pursuit of it, and we all help each other out."

Clearly, Flanery is passionate about Brazilian jiu-jitsu, and to know that he could combine his love of acting with his love for the sport in Born a Champion is certainly something special. 

Born a Champion will arrives in select theaters and on digital and On Demand on Friday, January 22.