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I remember this movie from the late 1980's / early 1990's. It was a VHS rental, and may have been a straight-to-video release.

The protagonist is a human aspiring to become the champion of an arena that has a "handicap field" that equalizes the physical strength of the combatants. Most of the combatants are aliens; no human has been champion in many years.

The reigning champion of the arena is a horned humanoid alien named "Horn". Horn is of low intelligence - the only word he can say is his own name - and there is a conspiracy to ensure that he remains champion.

The protagonist's first fight is against a huge alien with many limbs, named "The Slug". The conspirators are not yet concerned that the protagonist might become champion, and the handicap field functions normally, allowing the protagonist to fight at 100% strength, but restricting his much larger opponent to 60% strength.

When the protagonist challenges Horn, we learn that Horn has no respect for the laws and customs of the arena; Horn enters the arena first - the custom is for the challenger to enter first - and immediately headbutts a non-combatant - either an arena official or one of his own coaches.

The conspirators are now concerned that the protagonist could become champion, and they hack into the computer controlling the handicap field to bias the fight unfairly in Horn's favor. The protagonist's allies discover this and disable the handicap field completely.

  • Sloth, not slug. Other than that, your description was spot on. +1 – Valorum Feb 23 '15 at 16:54
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This is Arena (1989)

Per wikipedia

Arena is an American science fiction film directed by Peter Manoogian and starring Paul Satterfield and Claudia Christian. Set in 4038, Satterfield plays Steve Armstrong, the first human in 50 years to compete in the intergalactic boxing sport called simply "The Arena". The film was produced by Charles Band and features original music by Richard Band.

Lacking sufficient money for a ticket, Shorty attempts to raise the cash by gambling in an underground casino. The game is raided by the authorities and in the confusion, Shorty pockets the money. Caught in the act by crime boss Rogor (Marc Alaimo) and his enforcer Weezil (Armin Shimerman), Shorty is held for ransom. Steve promises to pay off the debt, so he reluctantly returns to Quinn and agrees to a contract. Remarkably he wins his first match with an alien named Sloth in an upset. He continues fighting, determined to prove that a human has what it takes to be champion, and soon becomes a top contender. Despite Rogor's multiple attempts to cheat, Steve ultimately wins the championship from Rogor's top fighter, an alien named Horn (Michael Deak).

You can watch the full movie on youtube (WARNING : NSFW - Violence).

enter image description here

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  • Dangit, Richard, you beat me to it. – Omegacron Feb 23 '15 at 17:10
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    @Omegacron -Perhaps you should ask them to turn the handicap field up a little? – Valorum Feb 23 '15 at 17:11

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