THE two bare-knuckle fighters go head-to-head as a cameraman desperately tries to capture every gory moment.
Blood trickles down competitor Alex Etherington’s face – but he carries on – completely unaware that his rival has just bitten off his ear.
In a desperate bid for glory, Alex, 32, then attempts to eye-gouge his opponent before being crowned winner, with the camera zooming in on his chunk of ear, now lying on the concrete floor.
This gruesome scene, in a disused warehouse in Stockton-on-Tees, County Durham, is just one of 300 underground fights that have played out in the UK over the past year.
These highly dangerous bouts rack up millions of views on YouTube and TikTok, with the top three underground fight clubs receiving 51million views for their latest fixtures – a rise of 162 per cent on last year.
The shocking new craze is exposed in a new Channel 4 documentary, UNTOLD: The Secret World of Fight Clubs, which has gained unprecedented access to two leading clubs as it aims to uncover what is driving young men to put their lives on the line.
The brutal brawls can take place anywhere, from boxing rings to ice hockey rinks and even in muddied rivers under the cover of motorway bridges.
Welder Alex took part in Swedish-based King Of The Streets’ first UK brawl last year. It is a ‘no rules, no rounds’ bare-knuckle fight club, where the aim is to knock out your opponent or force them into submission.
Brawls like these operate outside the licensing of boxing authorities, making them part of the unregulated and secretive fight scene.
He says: “I felt lucky to get on King Of The Streets. It’s quite sought after. I only got on it because my friend vouched for me.
“It got half a million views on YouTube and I got around 7,000 followers on Instagram overnight. That was heavy for me.”
He says of his fight: “I didn’t know what was going to happen because it was my first No Rules fight. I couldn’t really have a game-plan really. I didn’t know what to expect.”
‘My ear was bitten off’
Alex, who lives in County Durham, faced Bachir “Bash” Fakhouri, from Hastings, East Sussex, in the bout.
Dad-of-one Alex recalls: “He was desperate for a win as he’d come off a few losses. Ten seconds in, he bit my ear off. I didn’t know it had come off at first. Blood was trickling down my face.
“He wouldn’t let go of my hair. I ended up getting whiplash from it. He was going for my eyes.”
Eye-gouging is allowed but Alex says it usually stopped before any serious damage is done.
“He was screaming,” he said. “The ref stopped the fight and I won.”
Alex went to hospital but was told they couldn’t reattach his ear.
“It had been torn so it wasn’t a clean cut,” he said. “There was a risk of infections too, so there was no chance. It’s quite a big chunk, about the width of your pinkie finger. It doesn’t bother me.”
He says he brought it home to show his girlfriend Fizza Khan, 33, an audiologist, who insisted he keep it.
Alex says: “I brought it back to show my girlfriend and she asked me what I was going to do with it. I told her I was going to chuck it out but she told me I couldn’t do that.
“It’s in a jar of alcohol solution. Someone told me how to do it. It’s in the kitchen on a shelf.”
While Alex won’t reveal how much he got paid for the fight, it’s estimated you can get around £2,000.
He says: “You only get paid if you win. It’s not enough to make a career. This isn’t a job for me.”
He adds: “It was a weird bucket list thing. I needed something else in my life, not just the monotony of clocking in and out of work.
“Boxing wasn’t doing it. MMA wasn’t doing it.
“This is really exciting. It’s just different and it’s great. I still haven’t felt more free than when I was fighting there, where there’s no rules and restrictions. That was a little slice of freedom, real freedom.”
He adds: “For weeks after, I was on cloud nine.”
£7k per video
The documentary also features Remdizz, not his real name, who runs underground fight club King Of The Ring in the Manchester area.
He held his first scrap in a makeshift ring in his mum’s garden back in 2021.
Remdizz recalls how one fighter’s arm came out of his shoulder twice.
He says in the film: “I said we’re going to have to stop because people are putting their lives on the line so to speak, so I’m always worried but there’s only so much I can do after they’ve said yeah, I’ll fight.
“They’ve signed a waiver.”
He is now top of the scene in the UK, with his brutal brawls attracting 30million views on YouTube.
The former Muay Thai boxer, who acts as adjudicator, now runs King Of The Ring full-time – and can make £7,000 per video.
The secretive fight clubs occur on a monthly basis in rotating locations, with postcodes revealed by text a few days before.
Remdizz says of his success: “The fire didn’t stop. It got bigger and bigger then boom hit the million views and that now to date is on 4.9million. That gives me the fire to think yes, let’s do another big show. That’s my thing I’m always chasing.”
The dad says he has big ambitions for King of Ring to provide for his family: “Obviously we want the two cars, the three dogs and the big mansion. But grand scheme of things, all I want is two houses bought outright, paid for, if I can do that kind of thing for us, that’s the most I can ask for.”
Boxing over knife crime
But he insists it’s not just about the money.
He says fight clubs like his can help turn youngsters away from knife crime, with his motto being “use your left and right, put down the knife”.
Alex says, despite the risks, his girlfriend is “really supportive”.
He says: “She understands what I’m trying to do.”
But he plays down the dangers for daughter Courtney, 12, from a previous relationship.
He says: “For my daughter it’s a completely safe thing. She is proud of me. She thinks I’m superman.”
He reveals he has been inundated with people wanting to fight him since his victory.
Alex says: “I had two messages a week for three months. I even got one in the hospital while I was trying to get my ear fixed.”
But the No Rules legend is being selective about who he fights next.
He says: “It’s getting ruined because of the wrong people. people who want to look tough, who want to make a name for themselves. They’re not training properly for it.”
UNTOLD: The Secret World of Fight Clubs is available on C4 streaming from November 20