Far from the glitz, glamour, and money of the UFC, across the country every weekend young men and women square up against each other in a caged “ring” to test their mettle as mixed martial arts fighters. And for every UFC champion, thousands of men and women compete in their local gyms and at ramshackle MMA events. Cage fights can be bloody and brutal. The cost of competing can be high – being knocked out cold, tearing ligaments or tendons, breaking bones, even death in very rare cases. And while the top UFC champions may earn millions, lower level pros may only earn a few hundred dollars per fight, and amateurs earn nothing, yet for these fighters the dedication and training needed to compete is comparable to their UFC counterparts. Who are these weekend cage warriors? Why do they do it? ? Is it fame and fortune, or something more primal?

              The Hurt Game takes an insightful look at amateur and entry-level professional MMA. Featuring the perspectives of retired UFC standout Ivan Salaverry, along with other notable cage fighting professionals, it examines the real costs and rewards, financial and otherwise, of cage fighting as a career. Filmed over a two-year period, the film follows four unique fighters who strive for success in an often brutal and unforgiving sport, and put their lives on the line in pursuit of the ultimate goal - a UFC contract. Some have college degrees and demanding professional careers, and some struggle to make ends meet. But education and background become insignificant once they step inside the cage, where toughness, courage, determination, fitness, skill, and luck determine who gets bragging rights for the day. The Hurt Game offers an intimate and rarely seen glimpse at this sport, as the combatants watch their dreams and reality collide in and out of the cage.

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