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The yakuza find something to do with their money | Fighting in the Age of Loneliness

The yakuza find something to do with their money | Fighting in the Age of Loneliness


– [Narrator] Japan, our
former foe in the Pacific. It experienced what economists
call a post-war miracle as their economy reached
unforeseen growth for decades, to the point that they had the world’s second highest gross domestic product, and a per capita income as high or higher than any of its Western counterparts from the 70s to the 80s. By the early 80s, Japan surpassed the US in production of cars and electronics, and its richest institutions were eyeing up prized American real estate. The trade deficit between
the two states ballooned. That booming Japanese economy? It turns out, for that last decade, it was due to our old
friends, cheap credit and overspeculation. (foreboding music) Real estate stocks and every
other kind of instrument was so overpriced after the 1980s that the Bank of Japan tried
to halt the resulting inflation by massively increasing
their interest rates, that banks could lend
each other money with. This caused prices of
those overvalued equities to crater, and since
every major institution was loaded with debt from
trying to buy more assets, they were now totally
underwater and unable to make their basic payments. The government swooped in to rescue firms that were too big to fail,
guaranteeing their debt and injecting them with more capital. These were called zombie firms, lurching shells of their
former overborrowing selves, who were worth less than
their combined assets, as they shuffled around
aimlessly in post-bubble Japan. Lenders who once cut a
check to anyone with a pulse now barely opened their books at all. Youth unemployment surged, wages fell, Japan’s economy lost a fifth of its value. But someone had money, and a lot of it. People didn’t stop needing money just because the banks told them no. They turned to loan sharks, and in Japan, loan sharks often belong to the preeminent organized
crime groups, Yakuza. Yakuza, like anyone else, have to park their money somewhere. (dramatic music) If the openly trashy
UFC was America’s answer to the pain of dislocation and a changing antiseptic world, the grand baroque display of
Pride Fighting Championship was an oasis for a
beleaguered, staggering Japan. (dramatic music) In 1997, the UFC was
toiling in the dark ages. They could fill smaller venues, but guys were mostly giving
and receiving brain damage for archival footage that
would be seen by most decades after the fact. At this same time in
Japan, Pride’s first event, a match between the
legendary Rickson Gracie and Nobuhiko Takada, drew
47,000 fans at the Tokyo Dome. (dramatic music) While the UFC was still
working out the kinks of its supposedly safer rule set, Pride fighters were permitted to soccer kick an opponents’ head. It’s exactly what it sounds like, as Mirko Cro Cop demonstrates here against the unfortunate Ron Waterman. Their opening rounds went
a grueling 10 minutes. Instead of matching up a ladder, they did one night tournaments,
as the UFC once did. Only the loose medical oversight and the promotion’s pro-steroid policy allowed Pride’s champions
to so consistently break laws of God and man. It also didn’t hurt
that this was the start of the second era of MMA. The first one, the one of the early UFC, was characterized by
fighters only excelling at one set of skills. It
was striker versus grappler, wrestler versus judo player, et cetera. By the time that Pride rolled around, MMA athletes began developing
secondary skill sets that would allow them to
oppose their primary ones. Ukrainian Igor Vovchanchyn,
originally just a kickboxer, developed a command of
advanced punching techniques, in addition to becoming more formidable while grappling on the ground. It was tough for a
relatively single faceted jujitsu player like Francisco Bueno, to know how to attack
him, so Bueno didn’t. A minute in, he got danced into a corner and suffered one of the
most brutal knockouts in the history of the sport. (crowd shouting) – [Announcer] Igor Vovchanchyn, oh my god! – [Narrator] Wrestlers like Rampage Jackson developed rudimentary
boxing that enabled them to set up their takedowns
or, as we see here, use the threat of his takedown to surprise Kevin Randleman with a barrage of strikes. Unsurprisingly, what started
out big only got bigger. Because of the influence
of both pro-wrestling and involvement with organized crime, there was a lot of silly bullshit. Your typical Pride card
may have been headlined by, say, Russian hardass
Fedor Emelianenko, versus Croatian Special
Forces officer Mirko Cro Cop, a match steeped in nationalism, history, and feverish
anticipation, of seeing a guy who would seemingly walk
through anything to win, against a man with a ballistic missile for a left high kick, to
determine who was truly the scariest Eastern European stoic. You would get some other legit fights, legends like Takanori Gomi,
Hayato Sakurai, and Shogun Rua, but they would be sandwiched
in between matches that were kind of like
“fat guy versus whoever.” Consider Bob Sapp, who
was enormous, artless, and beloved by everyone. Once an offensive lineman
for the Minnesota Vikings, all 350 pounds of him were suspended by the NFL for alleged steroid use. A few years later, he
showed up in the Pride ring with nothing but football and
pro wrestling on his resume, and zero actual martial arts ability. In his second fight,
he met Kiyoshi Tamura, a disciplined veteran who had notched wins over several notable fighters,
including Renzo Gracie. Sapp, who outweighed Tamura by 150 pounds, appeared to have absolutely
no plan of attack beyond bull rushing him
and throwing a haymaker. That plan, plus 11
seconds, was all he needed. This was not the early UFC. It was not an ostensibly noble quest to determine the superior fighting style. It was a promotion rife with freak shows that showed enormous
crowds what it looked like when a normal looking guy got
hit by an enormous strong guy. Management often fucked with fighters, switching their opponents
at the last minute to psych them out and giving them only a week or two to prepare. Multiple fighters alleged some
matches were fixed outright. The one fight more or less confirmed by a participant to be rigged
was former UFC champion Mark Coleman diving into a
heel hook from Nobuhiko Takada, who, by all rights,
should have been plastered all over the mat by Coleman. Said Coleman, years later, “I
needed to support my family. “They guaranteed me
another fight after that, “and I needed that security. “It was what it was, I’m
going to leave it at that.” (dramatic music) Pride was often not even close to a legitimate sporting event, but for all the freak shows, rigged fights and weird bullshit, it could
feel bigger than a sport, too. Take Mauricio Shogun
Rua and his otherworldly 2005 tournament run. (gentle music) At a time where most fighters could juice to their heart’s content, Shogun didn’t look like
the Olympia competitor his opponents and his Chute
Boxe stable mates resembled. The guys who dominated the tables in Pride had looks, howling rage,
terrifying iciness, or smartass attitudes that endeared the marketing side as
well as the matchmakers. Some quiet 23 year old
who smiled bashfully when interviewed was not the type. He had the body of a podcaster who hits the gym a few times a week, but also the youthful good looks and friendly affect of a podcaster. He was just an unlikely tournament hero. Most thought he would
fare fine in the 2005 Middleweight Grand Prix, but
would ultimately wash out. (dramatic string music) He was dealt American wrestle-boxer Quinton Rampage Jackson on his first go. (anticipatory music) In under five minutes, he rocked Jackson, pulverized his body, and
bullied him into a corner where he stomped him out
like he was an NFL t-shirt someone burned in a protest gone awry. (dramatic music) He drew rival camp Brazilian Top Team’s Antonio Rogerio Nogueira in his next go. Nogueira was the twin
brother of former Pride heavyweight champion
Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, a famously tough fighter who survived being run over by a
fruit truck as a child, temporary paralysis, and its
resulting physical limitations to become an impossible to
finish grappling phenom. His brother wasn’t as good a grappler, but being that he avoided the fruit truck, Rogerio was a little
lighter, a little faster, and a far better boxer. This is when Shogun’s luck
was supposed to run out, but there was no luck at play. The younger fighter pushed
Rogerio to the limit. Both men dropped each other,
but Shogun got the edge through takedowns and aggression. These fights were weeks apart, however, Shogun had a double
date later in the month to determine the tournament’s
final conclusion. (dramatic music) First, Alistair Overeem,
a physical specimen who suffered from frontrunner syndrome and trainers who made
such an unusually big man cut to 205 pounds and
nearly die every time. Still, Alistair had dangerous power and a guillotine choke from hell, but Shogun had already
savaged one superstar and triumphed over another. He stopped the Dutchman at six minutes and 42 seconds in the first round. – [Announcer] And Shogun
first, Shogun continues. (dramatic music) – [Narrator] This was where
things were supposed to get truly difficult. (intense music) Ricardo Arona was the
ur-asshole of Brazilian MMA. A chiseled specimen next
to Shogun’s normie gym guy, Arona was a rich kid
lothario who never saw a way to fight dirty that he didn’t like. He did everything he could to be an absolute prick in his matches. He stuck his thumbs in
Kazushi Sakuraba’s wounds to gape them open during their fight. A year later, he would
go on to force a tap out from Alistair Overeem, then deliver an absolutely filthy late hit. Instead of stopping fights
with his unequal technique, Arona would just lay on people, suffocating their movement and waiting until the final bell rang. He did this to Wanderlei
Silva in the previous round. So Shogun, the one from Chute Boxe, with worse takedown defense and more youthful imprudence
was fucked, right? (dramatic music) Shogun started out the fight
with a flying tornado kick and was immediately taken down. This is where it’s supposed to end, with the young upstart
making a quick mistake and being sentenced to several
minutes of prone sweating. But if it wasn’t apparent
by now, Shogun was special. Shogun’s hips immediately opened up, and instead of desperately hanging on in hopes of keeping Arona
from a better position, he snatched an incredibly
rare omaplata submission, where one does a near full
circle from their backs while catching the person
on top’s arm in their hips so as to pop out their shoulder joint. The omaplata wasn’t about to be finished, but Shogun had no intention of
stopping the fight that way. Instead, he used his
newly gained top position to escape the ground, went for a stomp on Arona’s smug face, missed, then beat his fucking brains in, becoming the unlikely Grand Prix champion only two minutes and 34
seconds into round one. (dramatic music) In retrospect, it made a ton of sense. Shogun was the first
really excellent athlete of the two dimensional
era, and was an absolute offensive powerhouse in
his two main arsenals, muay thai on the feet, and
utter brutality on the ground. But everything is always
inevitable after it happens. While it’s unfolding,
you still get to suspend your disbelief and watch the narrative that binds all great fights. Shogun’s run was everything
people loved about Pride. It was an insane spectacle
that, despite itself, told stories through its fights that transcended what
was a very niche sport on the other side of the ocean. Let’s check in on that other side of that ocean, while we’re here. Remember the first big push
for MMA in the United States, when culture was getting cleaned up and the economy was getting
more degrading for more people? It was just as quickly
thrown into the dark ages, while Japan in limbo played
out its wildest fantasies with the same sport. But when it came back into our cultural imagination, we were more ready for it this time. (helicopter blades whirring) America in 2005 was drunk off cheap credit and revenge manifested as endless warfare, and while we used our imperial might to impart our superior way
of life on hapless nations, we let a major American city
drown amidst billions allocated to the nebulous concept
of homeland security. (helicopter blades whirring) It was a good time for a select group, those who could benefit from quick credit, short term investments, or prosthetic sales for American troops. (crowd applauding) But in our unconscious
minds, we saw our WASP secret society president pretend to be a simple cowboy while
he spewed megachurch bullshit about how God was his
close personal friend. (crowd applauding) Our culture had an
insatiable need for violence, but Iraq was now just too real, with Americans dying in scores
in asymmetrical warfare. We loved the concept of revenge, but couldn’t deal with the
cost of how it was dealt to the unsuspecting weddings,
schools, and hospitals on the other side of the world. (helicopter blades whirring) But there was some very real,
very consensual violence that did not cause body bags
filled with Americans or the humiliation of an empire that could be found in mixed martial arts. The unambiguity of fighting
didn’t hurt either. When we called a bunch
of Ivy League dickheads profiting off of people’s
shitty credit “ownership society” and mass murder “nation building,” it was nice to see two guys
fucking demolish each other without someone telling you it was competitive self learning,
or whatever, beforehand. (tense music) Your home belongs to the bank, your gas tank is lining the pockets of those who had more to do with 9/11 than the country your brother
just died fighting in, and you’re told the
economy is in high gear, even though your paycheck
is buying less and less. But what you just saw in
the cage was unambiguous. One person hit another,
and the other fell. Nothing about it lied to you. (dramatic music) In other words, the earnest UFC was actually seeing the benefits of a nation that needed
something as tangible as tribal tattoos and knockouts. First, they had some unusually
successful pay-per-views, thanks to the stoic Chuck Liddell, the wizened Randy Couture,
and the muddle mouthed trash talk of Tito Ortiz. While they were losing so much money the Fertittas considered
the selling company, they went all in on reality
TV, and it paid off big. (perky music) “The Ultimate Fighter” placed 16 fighters in a gaudy Vegas McMansion as they fought through a tournament to decide
the ultimate fighter himself. Its first season finally
showed regular American cable watching families the world of MMA. The stars of TUF One were all the types of bizarre human beings
you find in the sport, from the irony poisoned but tougher than dogshit Forrest Griffin, to the inconceivably
prickish Josh Koscheck. Audiences were dispelled of the notion of fighters as terminators who lived, breathed and slept harming
other human beings. Instead of T-1000, we saw John Connor. A bunch of fucked up
outcasts who could be funny, vulnerable, cruel,
petty and compassionate, in the ways that people
who never really gelled anywhere in society could. This show exposed casual
viewers to the sometimes bleak realities of fighting for a living. In the third episode, light heavyweight Bobby Southworth found himself with only 24 hours to
make weight for his fight against Lodune Sincaid. Within those 24 hours, he had to somehow cut
approximately 20 pounds, an impossible task for the uninitiated, but a common practice in
the world of fighting. His teammate, Josh Koscheck, and his coach, Chuck Liddell, shut him inside a sauna
for one hour intervals, behind a door with a sign on it that recommended no more than 20 minutes. Southworth, wearing a sweatsuit on top of a plastic suit,
pedaled a stationary bike in the 210 degree heat, for awhile anyway. He eventually lied down,
and was so weakened by the end of the hour
that he had to butt scoot his way out of a room hot
enough to slow cook a brisket. (bright music) Two hours before the weigh-in, Southworth still had
three pounds left to lose, so it was back to the sauna for him. By this point, his kidneys were aching and he had to be dragged back in. When it was all over, Southworth had just barely made weight. He would eventually knock out his opponent in the second round, but to
the average cable viewer, the superhuman feat of strength was the one they had already seen. A reality TV producer
with all of the Adderall and non-union contracts in the world couldn’t have planned the finale, though. With the show itself being
a tournament structure, the finale featured the top two fighters in both of the season’s weight classes vie for a vaunted six figure UFC contract. The UFC, being very much who they are, split the contract across three years and wouldn’t pay out the maximum amount unless the fighter went undefeated, so it wasn’t a guaranteed annual contract, but they sure fought like it was. 3.3 million people watched Stephan Bonnar fight Forrest Griffin in the finale. It was beyond the wildest expectations of Dana White and Lorenzo
and Frank Fertitta. (bright music) UFC 52, where TUF One coaches Chuck Liddell and Randy Couture squared off in a rematch
of a pre-reality TV fight that Liddell dropped did 300,000 buys. That was double the previous record, and it was the new normal. The modern UFC was built on
the blood and scar tissue shed on the mat that night. Pride, then the top
promotion in the world, had some real competition. A victor would be declared,
but not before America finally crashed from its upper high, and the rest of the
world had to go through the same withdrawals as us. The promotion that once nearly vanished from the face of the earth,
now had aims of taking it over. Dana was beginning to set goals once thought impossible for the sport. Years later, in 2013,
the UFC’s Twitter account tweeted out a photo that they soon deleted for reasons unclear. This photo showed Dana and the Fertittas standing below three
words in big bold letters, that suddenly seemed a lot less crazy than they would have back
when they were holding fights in a Mississippi casino. (dramatic music)

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100 thoughts on “The yakuza find something to do with their money | Fighting in the Age of Loneliness

  1. The political narrative this guy is inserting into this series is unnecessary and often blatantly biased. I don't see the point or how any of it has any relevance. I'm at number three but getting to the point where I'm fast forwarding through a lot of the commentary just avoid this guy's politics. 14:11 Ivy league dickheads and mass murder nation building? Yup I'll be fast forwarding through this entire series.

  2. I don't know who either of the producers of this "documentary" are so Im somewhat unbiased… I just think this is put together poorly. I'm trying to follow along but it's way harder than it should be. It's like the work of a hispter with ADD who took too much of his Adderall.

  3. Felix does good VO, beyond his comedy character. Seriously, it shows a surprising performative range. Also, I'm an acting teacher so please murder me.

  4. Ugh. Spent so much time on spewing your political views instead of talking about MMA. We get it. You're all liberals. That's fine. Get back to talking about MMA.

  5. I like the implication that the hundreds of thousands of deathsof Iraquis are because of the US. When any cursory search will show that US caused deaths of civilians is in single digit percentages. As far as the oil goes oil prices increased not decreased after the invasion. How did we go into a counrty to steal oil and yet the prices skyrocketed? We must be a horrible imperial power. There was no bloodlust as a country to be satiated. Interest in violence is endmic to human beings in every single culture not the result of capitalism or neoliberalism, to act otherwise is completely reprehensible and ignorant of all anthropological studies. McCain was a hypocrite for opposing the original ultimate fighter because he fought in a war? That is as asinine a statement I've ever heard. So opposing a competiton with no guidlines or saftey procautions can't be said because a man fought in a war, McCainhas no record of commiting war crimes, really? He saw what look like exploitation of individuals for money and cried foul and you are equating fighting in a war with prizefighting? What a joke and condescension. But then again I must just be a angry white male.

  6. The production on these videos is outstanding. I usually watch the beef episodes related to NBA rivalries but tonight I watched the video about the red wings vs the prison pirates and now this series on mma and I had to subscribe. You should all be very proud of your content. I learned a ton and was capitivated the whole time. Great work.

  7. I get what you’re trying to do with the comparison of MMA and war, but it comes off as sort of snarky and agenda oriented. If this is a historical documentation of mixed martial arts then do we really need anecdotes about personal political opinion? It taints a beautiful piece imo. Obviously this is just my thoughts and it is your series so do what you want, but it seems very much out of place. And no it’s not because I’m a republican lol

  8. Such a good series, if nothing new, at least it's a very concise and thought-provoking primer for new fans. But… was it really necessary to do everything in the watercolor filter and the timeline/octagon/TRON graphic? It's… a little hard to watch. Great to listen to though, thanks, sorry for being nitpicky.

  9. 14:44 i think this point right here sums up the reason many intelligent people either give up, becoming bums, or find something that makes 100% sense to them and dedicate themselves to it.

  10. this entire series is AMAZING…i love what you did with the timelines and the win loss records, absolutely brilliant…thank you so much! its been a pleasure to watch this all since the beginning for me. Nostalgic overdose.

  11. Why do you seem to interject your politics into each episode? There are some points where I can say ok that is relevant, but many more points where its irrelevant but you find a way to add a random social/political point that adds little to nothing to a story about MMA. That said I enjoyed this series sans your occasional moralfagotry

  12. Only real criticism for this whole 5 part series belongs here. No mention of Sakuraba? Come on. He is so inspirational.

  13. Speaking of Japan…

    New Clear Hoax (LIKE, SHARE and FOLLOW)
    https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=10155733429625787&id=790650786

  14. Dot com bubble and 2001 crash was from japan doing what china is doing now. Also these guys are woke on how the world really works 👍🏽

  15. Pride was a fantastic event for the fans and no more shady than US promotions ran by mobsters and shady politicians taking bribes.
    Please step down from the soap box…

  16. In a way the UFC is becoming a little more like pride with big fights taking precedent over earned fight but its just not the same without soccer kicks

  17. You had to do it , you couldn't just make it about the sport . I just unsubscribed , go fvck yourself . I hope a hurricane destroy's your house & a terrorist rams an IED up you ass.

  18. A fine production and it would be even better without the blatant political bias and misinformation. But, that's the world we live in today. All politics all the time.

  19. There's not a single outlet that estimates Japan's per capita GDP or PPP as high or higher than the U.S. "In the absence of sufficient data…past GDP per capita cannot be calculated, but
    only roughly estimated…"

    Ever not once in the last 100 years. See for yourself:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_regions_by_past_GDP_(PPP)_per_capita#1%E2%80%932008_(Maddison)

  20. Pride fighting at the time overall was more exciting than the UFC. There was way too much wrestling and holding in UFC. In Pride they gave yellow cards which deducted a fighter's purse so that made them fight harder.

  21. A song begins at 0:54 that is the exact same background music that was used in UCLA professor Eugen Weber's Western Tradition series. The song is "Edge of the World" by Keith Mansfield. That series was made in 1989, so what a shock to hear it as music used today, in a documentary that literally came out last Thanksgiving.

    Keith Mansfield created an entire library of music that was licensed to PRS (a company in the UK that rents out music), which is why you often hear his synthy tunes. He's a true original who created tons of music for television, yet no one knows his name at all. You might know him best as the creator of the "Funky Fanfare" used in the 1970s before "Our Feature Presentation" (or at least might recognize that musical cue from when Tarantino uses it constantly before his movies). Just look him up on Spotify. I particularly recommend his album "Survival." No wonder he was used so often to set the ambience and sense of place for television.

  22. This series is pretty great, if heavy on the preachy bullshit. I rarely have someone tell me how I felt despite my own memories. John is better when he's highlighting the futile nature of an epic sporting event.

  23. Flew in from Miami Beach BOAC
    Didn't get to bed last night
    On the way the paper bag was on my knee
    Man, I had a dreadful flight

  24. Love Jon Bois. Who is this idiot trying to audition for his own Air America show?

    He seems to be badly misinformed about the last 40 years and is trying to draw huge relevancies between his poly sci professors version of history and ..mixed martial arts competition? Whatever he is doing, he is failing pretty hard.

    I hope Jon can work with better talent in the future.

  25. Weird title. Called it quits ~16 min in because the Yakuza were only mentioned briefly at the beginning. You should probably address the subject in the title well before that or change the title.

  26. This series is great, Jon’s editing style with Felix’s narration is awesome. You guys couldn’t have done a better job

  27. Don't watch these videos a lot but the guy narrating is Jon or Felix correct? And who are they?. I got into ufc and pride around the same time back with Tito vs chuck

  28. I was already auto playing the next episode, but I had to come back. I said previously how impressed I am by this series. I just needed to let whoever wrote this know- your talents have not gone unnoticed. In the first episode I was annoyed because I thought you were giving a arbitrary history lesson that had nothing to do with the fights I wanted to see. Almost immediately I was shown how wrong I was. The writing weaves together sociocultural staples of history to underline impact of MMA on the global consciousness. All brilliantly executed in tandem with solid narration and flawless editing. Thank you for connecting the dots in the way u did.

  29. its been good so far, but I had to struggle through certain points of this one…the political slant can be just too much…

  30. During the first half of video…

    Me: What the… Where is all the white cis het male bashing?

    Second half of video…

    Me: PHEW! There we go!

    Seriously tho, no you are nowhere close to the shape of Shogun at 23 or any age… Period. It's not cute, you'd get beat down by an 11 year old girl in the Octagon.

  31. The creator's personal issues are projected onto this documentary to a sad degree… all the fighters are "outcasts who dont fit anywhere in society" the early 2000s were actually a time of great financial suffering for everyone.
    I shouldn't be able to discern the narator's/author's stance on Keynesian Economics from a documentary on the UFC.

  32. I may not agry with the war in Iraq, but let's not that pretend that they were some sort of peaceful Utopia. I have a hard time believing that if we hadn't invaded that they wouldn't of gotten their ass kicked by Israel or Iran during the last ten years. Best case scenario in those circumstances is another genocide of the Kurds.

  33. This mini-series is insane, the music and the writing are so weird. It's just MMA!!!! It has nothing to do with the recession, or the wars, or some imagined societal loneliness, it's just a few fighting promotion companies trying to make money. It's not for outsiders, it's been mainstream for over a decade

  34. Jon Bois — your productions are usually pretty good, and I'd probably enjoy this series a little more….. if it weren't for the smug left-wing propaganda interjected into this production.

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