The Romans found out about the combat just reading the announcements for the painted on the walls of the city. The announcements informed about the date of the fight, who were the gladiators and the results of combats. A "v" near the fighter’s image stood for victory - "vicit" and "p" stood for "periit", meaning failure and that the gladiator was killed. A "m" - "missus", stood for lost but the fighter was spared.
A usual game brought in front of the public between ten and thirteen pairs of gladiators, each fight lasted around ten minutes. The largest contest of gladiators ever known to be given was by the emperor Trajan in Dacia. He celebrated this way the victory in 107 AD and included 5,000 pairs of fighters.
Gladiators fought barefoot in sand. Some fights were to the death - “sine missione” (without release). Sometimes the spectators cheered the gladiators with specific messages like - "habet, hoc habet” (he’s had it) or "habet, peractum est” (he's had it, it's all over), when one gladiator was wounded.
When a gladiator acknowledged he was defeated he could raise a finger. The games sponsor was the one that decided the gladiator’s fate, after asking the public how well he had fought. When a gladiator was killed the games sponsor paid compensation to the owner up to 100 times the gladiator's value and even more if the gladiator was popular. Some gladiators were killed accidentally.