The History of MMA: Book Review

by - 8:59 AM

Told by a former MMA combatant whose promising career came to an unexpected end due to a freak sparring session injury, “Saleh Stevens' History of MMA - From Rome to Today” covers the many critical influences that ultimately shaped the practice of mixed martial arts as it is understood today. In his first book, the author begins by offering his insight into the role of the earliest practitioners of pankration, a sport that was included in the original Olympic Games.

Starting with a centuries-old sport and style of combat mythologized in the stories of a number of Greek and Roman heroes, Stevens goes on to detail how MMA came to grow out of a variety of concepts and philosophies coming from seemingly disparate sources. From Japan to England, Brazil, the United States and beyond, the history of MMA frequently crosses international borders and is often adopted with great zeal by those who encounter a teacher capable of sharing the principles of an approach to martial arts that favors adaptability over rigidity. 

In presenting the history of MMA all the way through the contemporary era of UFC and “The Ultimate Fighter,” Stevens offers a number of interesting anecdotes in addition to the detailed overviews aimed at providing the reader with the proper background and context. Whether it is President Theodore Roosevelt’s regular practice of engaging in MMA-style training sessions at the White House or Muhammad Ali’s boasting in advance of his match with Antonio Inoki, “Saleh Stevens' History of MMA - From Rome to Today” succeeds in providing an entertaining and informative look into the people, organizations and events leading up to MMA’s rapid growth in popularity over the last decade.

Formerly an MMA competitor whose success as an amateur seemed to foreshadow a lengthy career as a professional, Stevens has shifted his focus to coaching after suffering a severe lower-leg injury that eliminated any possible future as a combatant. As a coach, Stevens believes in a detailed approach to training and has therefore placed a significant limit on the number of athletes he is willing to work with at any given time. 

A certified nutritionist who holds degrees in biomechanics, exercise physiology and history, Stevens spends his time away from training up-and-coming fighters by writing for the popular MMA website he founded several years ago. Though MMA seems to be at the core of Stevens’ varied pursuits, the coach and author is just as likely be watching a Bruce Lee film as he is to be reading the works of Aristotle.
My husband and I watch a lot of MMA and UFC fights. We even have a friend who owns his own gym and has very talented fighters who he travels with. Because of watching the fights together, I have enjoyed learning more about the fights. I was given the chance to review this short story about the history of MMA and I wasn't disappointed. It's a very short book, just shy of 30 pages. I won't give away the contest of the book but it will keep you interested through the entire story. If you are like me, you can finish this book in under half an hour. But because it's so interesting, I'll be keeping it on our bookshelf for other who want to read it. It's a short but interesting read that will keep you turning page after page. Before you know it, you'll know more about the history of MMA!
*I was given this product for free in exchange for an honest review*
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