There's a scene in Red Dead Redemption 2 where the main character stumbles across a fight club, in which a mob of outlaws and lowlifes have congregated around the makeshift arena that plays home to slews of bloody, brutish fistfights. The moment itself, funnily enough, harks back to Rockstar's Ballad of Gay Tony DLC from Grand Theft Auto 4, when players themselves could partake in a series of underground boxing fights for money.
It's no surprise, then, that Red Dead Online players are beginning to set up their own fight clubs, heavily inspired not just by Rockstar's back catalogue, but the iconic 1999 David Fincher film of the same name. Red Dead Redemption 2's multiplayer open world beta has only been live for two weeks, but the community has gathered around this trend as Rockstar's in-game economy goes back to the drawing board for some much needed reworking.
Red Dead Online's fight clubs originally began life as chance encounters that escalated in multi-manned brawls, which usually met an abrupt end when someone brought a gun to the punching match, but players are slowly beginning to officiate the melee tournaments with regulated, organised meet ups. These competitions, as in real life, will often take place in hard to reach areas such as rooftops or basements to prevent being compromised, and some have even hired player bouncers to keep out any potential griefers or snitchers.
Like in the movie, there's often a set of rules underpinning each match, though - as much as people like to reference Tyler Durden's classic line - there's often no law stopping people from talking about fight club. Instead, one Saint Denis based operation outlined their rules on the Red Dead Redemption Reddit, where a lot of organisers tend to promote their own events:
"No tonics/enhancements. Two people to a fight. One referee who starts the match with two shots from a pistol into the air. Wave to challenge a member non-verbally. No shirts (for men). No weapons You can use any melee technique you want. But the first move has to be a normal punch." Break any of these rules, explains phate2000, and the fight is automatically over, "probably because the ref will shoot you in the face."
Rockstar itself has yet to comment on Read Dead Online's rising fight club phenomenon, either to give its blessing or crack down on their continued existence, but it doesn't look like they'll be going away anytime soon. Sign up, if you think you can take the beating, but don't forget to leave your shirt at camp.
If fight clubs aren't your thing, have a read of our best Red Dead Online tips to progress in the Wild West without having to brawl for money.