Fight Clubbing

"The first rule of Fight Club is — you do not talk about Fight Club.
The second rule of Fight Club is — you DO NOT talk about Fight Club."
Tyler Durden, Fight Club

An abandoned warehouse in a peaceful city is used as a rink for suburbanites to set out their differences (or just blow off some steam) through violence, in illegal matches. Usually has a level of secretiveness added to it, and sometimes, when teenagers are the perpetrators, they'll film it and put it on the internet, "the greatest of all evils".

While fight clubs aren't necessarily a bad thing (as long as there are set and agreed-upon rules and all fighters are willing participants), TV tends to demonize it a bit. There must have been some real-life examples based on the fictional ones.

This trope is quite common in Martial Arts movies set in the modern day, as a way to facilitate fight scenes and show off the fighters' moves. Fight clubs in these movies tend to be set up by the bad guys of the movie, and often have their members fighting each other to the death like gladiators in a Roman arena.

Not to be confused with a Club Fight, that is, a Bar Brawl.


Anime and Manga
  • Parodied in Kamichu!, in which stray and domesticated cats gather at an abandoned factory to train in martial arts so that they can protect themselves from humans. Their leader is even named Tyler Nyaaden.

Comic Books
  • Thunderbolts had a bizarre period at the end of its original run when it became a book about an underground fight club for supervillains.

  • Wolverine takes part in one of these at the start of X-Men.
  • Hot Shots! Part Deux had a hilarious version, parodying the beginning of Rambo III.
  • This is a very common martial arts movie trope.
  • The various unlicensed boxing events in Snatch., featuring Mr. Fightclub.
  • Never Back Down features underground MMA fights at a party, at a dance club, and underneath school bleachers.
  • In a deleted scene of The Foot Fist Way, Mike is first introduced killing a man at an underground fight club.
  • Real Steel features the Crash Palace, one of many underground joints for robot boxing. It's an abandoned warehouse, with little lighting, and littered with humans and robots milling about. Later on, Atom has his first fight in an abandoned zoo.
  • The 1994 Street Fighter movie has Vega in one of these.
  • In the 2011 film Warrior: Brendan intends to scrape together a living by fighting in "smokers," which are small-time, often unsanctioned fighting events.
  • Man of Tai Chi is about a martial artist getting seduced by underground arena fights.
  • Sherlock Holmes has Sherlock competing in a fight club in one scene.


Live-Action TV
  • Suburban Shootout - trope-heavy show...
  • Law & Order - fighting for a girl that was actually thirty, teenage example.
  • The Torchwood episode "Combat" does this with aliens added to the fun.
  • Clark Kent gets involved in one of these during Season 7 of Smallville in order to get rid of one of the Phantom Zone escapees.
  • In The O.C., Ryan is so sad about Marissa's death that he has to fight club about it.
  • Angel - except here the fighters are demons.
  • Parodied on Dead Ringers as Brian Perkins' Fight Club:
    The first rule of Brian Perkins' Fight Club is that you don't talk about Brian Perkins' Fight Club.
    The second rule of Brian Perkins' Fight Club is that you don't talk about Brian Perkins' Fight Club.
    The third rule of Brian Perkins' Fight Club is that you don't talk with your mouth full.
  • Fair City once did a story about a fight club in a school.
  • An episode of Bones revolved around this.
  • The Witchblade episode "Palindrome" has Sara, Danny, and McCarty come across a fight club while investigating a man who died of a severe beating. While the boys go undercover inside as competitors, Sara keeps watch outside because women aren't allowed in. Except not really: Sara has an Evil Twin who's the champion of the club and the killer, hence the episode title.
  • Sanctuary: This time with "abnormals" doing the fighting.
  • An episode of Tokusou Sentai Dekaranger had the Rangers investigating one of these. Also contains a Shout-Out to the Trope Namer, in that the Monster of the Week was an alien named Durden from the planet Tyler.
  • In an episode of 30 Rock, Liz finds out that the women she's been hanging out with are part of one.
    Liz: Oh god, is this a fight club?!
    • In another episode, when Liz asks Pete how he's getting out his aggression after losing his private time, a cutaway shows Pete fighting in one of these.
  • Blood Ties does it with zombies.
  • In the "Hundred Dollar Baby" episode of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, the gang tries to forge Charlie into an underground pit fighter, believing that he is impossible to injure. His "training" consists almost entirely of getting pummeled by Dennis and Mac. Ultimately Mac takes his place under the name "Clownbaby" and gets beaten up by a much smaller opponent.
  • In an early third season episode of Chuck, the Buy More guys start a fight club after Chuck accidentally flashes on combat skills and kicks Lester in the face.
  • In How I Met Your Mother, it is revealed that Marshall actually brawls with his brothers in a Fight Club scenario.
  • In season 11 of Degrassi, Drew gets beat up by gang members. He deals with the resulting PTSD by joining a fight club.
  • Parodied on The IT Crowd on the Countdown episode.
    Prime: "The first rule of Street Countdown is... that you really must try to tell as many people as possible about it! Itís a rather fun game and the more people we tell about it, the better."
  • An episode of Alphas has a metahuman fight club. It's rather more morally ambiguous than is common: some of the participants are a bit creepy, but the death that occurred turns out to have been an accident, other participants are entirely sympathetic, and one of the regular cast ends up joining up. The actual villainy in the episode turns out to be almost unrelated to the fight club: the bad guys were taking advantage of participants being exhausted when they left to kidnap them.
  • Jennifer Aniston introduced the women of Saturday Night Live one of the times she hosted. Aniston was married to Fight Club star Brad Pitt at the time.
  • Criminal Minds has unsub who part takes on this. However the unsub is a weakling, and is beaten by just about everyone, so he settles on shooting his opponents as his way of dominating them.
  • Hawaii Five-0: The Five-0 team deals with one in one episode, a fight club that has kidnapped the daughter of a well-known MMA fighter to force her to fight in an exhibition match. In a bit of Lampshade Hanging, McGarrett and Chin Ho promptly quote the "You do not talk about Fight Club" line upon learning of the group.
  • Blue Bloods has an episode where Danny encounters an underground boxing ring frequented by Wall Street execs as both spectators and competitors. One of the competitors ended up dead due to doctored gloves.
  • Gotham: This show's version of Black Mask offers his interns a chance to advance themselves in his company- if they'll fight each other to near-death for it (and, in the episode that focuses on it, all the way to death). The whole thing is broadcast live for the amusement of middle management.

  • Christina Aguilera's video Dirrty appears to be set in an underground fight club involving sexy women in Stripperiffic clothing.
  • Sick Of It All's video for Take The Night Off also takes place in what appears to be an abandoned building. Slight variation as, like the above example, the combatants are both women.
  • The Apocalyptica track "Repressed" does this with a twist. The video shows different women with rather obvious bruises calling each other up to organise an event. The whole video makes it look like these women are the victims of abuse...up until the end, where it's revealed they got these bruises from beating each other up in a warehouse. The very end shows them leaving the warehouse laughing and giving each other hugs.

  • Skin Lad from Road belongs to one.

Video Games
  • This is the point of Def Jam: Fight for NY. New York is apparently home to a very large underground fighting circuit and it must be very lucrative due to gambling... or something... because two large criminal empires are willing to go to war for control of it, and your character is the fighter who'll singlehandedly turn the tide in favor of one or the other.
  • Final Fight: Streetwise opens with an underground fight involving the main character. Throughout the rest of the game, you can choose to participate in the fights for cash. One of the opponents you can face is Cammy from Street Fighter doing an Intercontinuity Crossover.
    • In the first game, our three heroes fight Sodom in an underground fighting ring and The Andore family (Father, Grandpa, and Uncle) in a steel cage match.
  • You can join a fight club in Fable. One of the strongest members is the mayor of one of the towns.
  • Saints Row 2 has two of these. More appear in Saints Row IV, only with psychic powers and simulated versions of old gang leaders and one TV show character.
  • Jagged Alliance 2 has a fight club in the local Wretched Hive. It's a handy source of extra cash in the early stages of the game. The only rule is no weapons, although you can get away with using a knuckle duster, and if you win too many fights your enemies will start bringing guns into the ring.
  • Luis from Grand Theft Auto IV: The Ballad of Gay Tony is a former club fighter, and is forced back into the ring to pay off his mother's debts.
  • The early 90's coin-op game Pit-Fighter is all about this trope.
  • Once per chapter in The Witcher there's a pub with underground brawling in the corner. Butterbean appears as the mid-tier opponent in a game-wide championship.
  • In Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood, Ezio can fight downstairs in Bartolomeo's Roman barracks. The challenges are generally for the at least 40 year old man to take on up to five mercenarii and win. In less than a minute.
  • In Republic: The Revolution, participating in an underground "boxing club" is one of possible backgrounds for the protagonist, which shifts his ideology towards Force. There was supposedly an option to start up one yourself in the game proper, but it doesn't seem to have made it to the final version.
  • Fallen London has three, all run by the same guy, Feducci. The first, the Ring of Meat, is the most normal of them, where people in a meat locker just beat the crap out of each other. The second, the Ring of Roses, is organized in an old cemetery, inside a ring of rose petals, and its only rule is "first to make a noise of any sort loses". The third, the Painted Ring, is overseen by the man himself, and the arena is a painted circle on the dome of a slippery chapel. Obviously, the first to fall off loses, though thankfully Death Is Cheap in London and even the dead will get back up later. Feducci also runs (and participates in) the Black Ribbon, though that doesn't quite qualify, as its members duel each other to the Final Death.

Web Original
  • One of the major events in the pregame of Survival of the Fittest version three was an underground fighting tournament in the basement of a bar called Shooters. The tournament was a major enough event that it is still referenced in the occasional post during the main game. It is a slight subversion, though, in that tournament organizers Montezzo Valtieri and Lucas Dasai were said to have gone through the proper channels to make sure the tournament was completely legal.
    • Played a bit more literally in version four and its pregame with Garrett Hunter, who created his own Fight Club based on the film and actually sees himself as Tyler Durden.
  • The first rule of Chess Club...
  • In The Gamers: Natural One, the series' mainstays Gary and Leo are revealed to be running a "knitting club" where they and their fellow geeks duke it out with LARP boffer weapons.

Western Animation
  • Spawn - with added cannibalism.
  • Seen in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2003) episode "Fallen Angel", where this is one of the hurdles a candidate must pass in order to enter the Purple Dragons gang.
  • Parodied on The Venture Bros. during the origin of Billy Quizboy, where he and Pete White earn money for a cross-country road trip on a circuit of illegal underground cutthroat Quiz Shows. Billy then gets his arm ripped off as a result of White having confused a Mexican dog fighting ring with one of these.
  • Pam from Archer is shown in a flashback to have financed her college tuition through a highly successful and deadly tour of these. Her back is tattooed with over a dozen kill marks from these fights along with Lord Byron's Destruction of Sennacherib.
  • The Secret Saturdays episode "Cryptid vs. Cryptid" features a cryptid fighting ring.
  • In Avatar the Last Airbender, an underground earthbending tournament presented like one of these, is where the heroes initially encounter Toph, before recruiting her to join them and teach Aang earthbending.
    • The Book 4 premiere of The Legend of Korra has a smaller-scale example. Korra is fighting there incognito after tricking her parents into thinking she has headed back to Republic City. The next episode reveals that she was fighting her Enemy Without, rather than her actual opponent.
  • In the Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness episode "Kung Fu Club", Master Shifu gets word of an illegal fight club in the village and sends Po to stop it. The club turns out to be being run by a friend of Po's, and is actually more like a self-defence class. By the end of the episode Master Shifu agrees to lift the ban on ordinary people learning kung-fu.

Real Life
  • Toughman contests usually set up in local bars and host a boxing tournament for novices. Butterbean is one famous participant.
  • "Smokers" are private, unsanctioned boxing and Mixed Martial Arts events set up between gyms so that inexperienced fighters can get some ring experience before going into their first sanctioned bout.
  • "Bumfights," an infamous serious of videos in which a group of young men paid bums to fight each other and otherwise degrade themselves for change.
  • Kimbo Slice made a name for himself by brawling local toughs in backyards and parking lots and putting the clips up on youtube.
  • Arguable case; football hooliganism. Despite how they are often displayed the hooligans do not just fight random people, but other hooligans and it is done in an organized manner... well, as organized as a mass row can get.
    • In the Terry Pratchett novel Unseen Academicals the game of football has degenerated into just the hooligans with little or no actual play at the beginning of the story.
  • The Agreeable Recreation of Fighting, focusing on Ireland in the mid-to-late 19th century, where brawling was entertainment. The article contains several eye-openers: five percent of deaths were from infected bites; a policeman tried to stop an old man fighting, and was set upon by 500 people; another tried to break up a faction fight by firing his gun in the air, whereupon he was mobbed by the combined factions, then taken up against the magistrates for illegally owning a firearm. Drink was often involved, as were sticks and stones, but never malice.
  • The tradition of academic fencing or Mensur is still practiced by some student fraternities in the German-speaking world (and other areas of central Europe). The aim is not so much to defeat your opponent, but to get a cool scar or two in your face. A hundred years ago, such a Schmiss was regarded as a badge of honour among the German upper classes.
  • Fight clubs still happen in cities. And they're illegal. And Now You Know.