“Pound for Pound: The Modern Gladiators of Mixed Martial Arts” Book Review

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“Pound for Pound” is the story of five of the best fighters from the modern era of MMA, tied together with the history and growth of the sport as a whole. Focusing on Georges St. Pierre, Mauricio “Shogun” Rua, BJ Penn, Anderson Silva, and Fedor Emelianenko, while some fans might argue the authors choice of fighters, they will quickly realize that the book is much more than the origins of these five, but uses their relationships with others to craft an international story of MMA.

With one company controlling what fans believe to be the history of MMA, this book works to set the story straight and discusses it with no bias. We spoke with the author, Brian D’Souza, who has written for ESPN.com, FoxSports.com, FIGHT! Magazine, Sportsnet Magazine and CagePotato.com, where he addressed this exact issue. “Everyone knows that there’s a revisionist history being floated around,” Brian said, “Because it benefits the current 900-pound gorilla in the room–Zuffa. Say or do the wrong thing, and you could be joining Frank Shamrock in being omitted from the UFC Hall of Fame, DVD’s or just have your contribution to MMA history minimized in the UFC Encyclopedia. Whoever reads this book, be it casual or hardcore fans, I think they’ll appreciate the material as a way to take them beyond the experience of watching fights.”

Weighing in at over 360 pages, the book is broken up into four sections, with each section representing a geographic region and, therefore, that part of the world’s contribution to the sport and others involved in it. There is also a section with photos towards the back, although I do not understand why these pictures were not simply implemented in the chapters that they belonged. Being a veteran journalist, we do not need to worry about this book being well-written, as it most definitely is and does a great job of connecting the dots of different people to create a web of MMA tales.

I enjoyed the section on BJ Penn, as he has been part of the sport from a very early time, and became a major player quickly. Here, we learn about the meteoric rise of the Hawaiian native and get some insight on some of his biggest fights and moments in the UFC. GSP’s section is also very revealing, and shows readers the different emotional states that the current UFC welterweight champ has gone through before he became the dominant fighter he is now. Fans who have heard other fighters call St. Pierre a “mental midget” or other names will now understand just why he was insulted like that, and how he has matured and grown since then (which I found more interesting than reading about his fights). The chapter that I think all fans will love (and must read) is the part on Fedor Emelianenko, which was meticulously researched and will shock fans with some of the stories not about “The Last Emperor”, but about the final days of Pride FC. I would love to tell you more, but they would be huge spoilers, so you need to read it for yourself!

You can order “Pound for Pound: The Modern Gladiators of Mixed Martial Arts” on Amazon.com for $17.49, and is totally worth the price. This is great storytelling, putting together a puzzle of fighters from different eras and parts of the world and connecting it into one extensive and cohesive history of the entire sport. This is a must-read book for all MMA fans, and even though it is only March, I am confident to think this might be the MMA book of the year.

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