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Web Video / Fighting in the Age of Loneliness

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"For the Rest of your life; Go out, touch gloves...and fight."
Fighting in the Age of Loneliness is a 2018 Web-Documentary about the history of MMA, written and narrated by Felix Biederman and directed/produced by Jon Bois. It is divided into 5 chapters that trace the sport's entire history, both proud and not-so-proud, throughout the ages and explains why it became, and has remained a part of the cultural touchstone regardless of or because of the parties who make the sport happen, and the forces outside it that give it shape. How a sport about weirdos and creeps can managed to find an audience and find magic, even in a world that feels like it's falling apart at the seams.

Fighting in the Age of Loneliness contains examples of these tropes.

  • Badass Family: The Gracies. They may have been MMA's old money, but Gracie Jiu-Jitsu did it's job, and it seems like every other family member picked up a new style or way to cause punishment.
  • Badass Normal: Maurício Rua was described as "looking like a podcaster who goes to the gym", but he went ahead and won the PRIDE 2005 Middleweight Tournament just by being able to out-aggression and outfight everybody.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Another way to look at the end of the film. Things suck, and it doesn't look like things are gonna get better, but finishing the fight is what you absolutely can do. Put on your gloves and go out there.
  • Blood Knight: Carlos Gracie would take on all fighters he could find. His father gave him to judo master Mitsuyo Maeda to train him up, but his desire to fight never went away.
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  • Boring, but Practical: Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu in comparison to the balls-out style of Vale Tudo
  • Broken Ace: Points out that all of the great aces of fighting tended to not just fade, but usually get clobbered before their retirement. which made Anderson Silva's match against X so amazing. He won regardless.
  • Determinator: Helio Gracie, whose matches would sometimes last hours.
  • Downer Ending: One way to look at the final monologue of the film. Everything you know or love will get monetized and become bland so that people with more money than you can ring all the capital they can out of you. Even in a bloodsport that was once too weird and barely regulated to be liked by the US Congress.
  • Early Installment Weirdness:
    • Gracie Jiu Jitsu was relatively still like the martial art that came before it, but paved the way for MMA.
    • Early MMA, or Vale Tudo, was mostly a no-rules no-holds-barred contest before rules got added.
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    • Pancrase is an early MMA promotion that preceded UFC in a few months. Instead of the brutal no-rules UFC, Pancrase was a weird Pro-Wrestling/Real fighting where fighters used thigh-high boots and had to strike with open hands.
  • I Just Want to Be Normal: Characterizes the UFC and their president Dana White as trying to be like a normal sport like basketball in the 2000's to today, to the detriment of the product they were putting out.
  • Legitimate Businessmen's Social Club: PRIDE got a real reputation for being a yakuza front just because plenty of people who were known to be yakuza showed up to events, the president lived in a building ran by the yakuza and several other in-hindsight fairly obvious connecting points.
  • Political Correctness Gone Mad: Invoked deliberately to make a point about why the alienation of the 90's helped MMA: it's not Political Correctness at all; but rather HR Culture made by gigantic corporations (defined as standards that were created that protected the vulnerable, but with stringent rulesets) that created the alienation that many felt because now, if they were broken, the person in question could be out of a job for a good long while.
  • Public Domain Soundtrack: Many of the tracks used in the documentary as background music can be heard in Jon Bois' work.
  • Secret Art: Martial arts of all kinds were considered this for some time, but as time went on, eventually people began inventing their own and proliferating it all to the public.
  • Similarly Named Works: Luta Livre and the pro-wrestling style Lucha Libre are pronounced quite similarly, however both styles of combat couldn't be more different. Interesting enough, both have origins in Catch Wrestling.
    • Luta Livre can also mean the Olympic Freestyle Wrestling (Although sometimes refered as Luta Livre Olímpica) and also an alternative name for Pro Wrestling.
  • Sliding Scale of Cynicism Versus Idealism: Firmly on the side of Cynicism. However, that same cynicism is elaborated on as a reason why people grew to love MMA like they did and do; in a world that was no longer set up to care or support people, it became a release from all the trying problems of the world and the alienation of it all.
  • Slobs vs. Snobs: Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu vs. Luta Livre. The Gracie family dominated Jiu-Jitsu with wealth, power, and promotion, but Luta Livre could be practiced by anybody and was about as hardnosed as any bloodsport gets.
  • Start My Own: Basically the story of Judo; Kano Jigoro was too small and inexperienced for Jiu-Jitsu, so he basically created an art based around throws and grapples so he could win bouts against large competition (or so the documentary says, as the real history is a bit different), which unintentionally set the stage for one of his pupils to go on an exhibition across the world, which led to Gastao Gracie asking him to train his son, which eventually led to the creation of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu.
  • Training from Hell: The way a fighter in the Ultimate Fighter managed to drop 20 pounds in under a day, where he essentially locked himself inside of a sauna for hours to the point that he couldn't move his legs getting out of it. And then did it again when he was just a few pounds over. Naturally, the guy won his next fight handily.

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