I had noticed in comment sections a mention or two of BE's new feature writer Jonathan Snowden's book. At first I passed this off, not knowing exactly what he had written. After talking with "thisredengine" and then seeing more mentions of a book I was curious and last weekend when I was at Barnes & Noble I thought I'd take a look for it and see what he had written. I have to say It was more than I was expecting in scope and length, which was a pleasant surprise. So now not only do I own a copy, but after reading it, wanted to pass on my thoughts to other fans of MMA that may not know about it yet.
I realize MMA fans run a large spectrum with the time they have been involved with the sport and before I get to the book, I want to touch on where I'm coming from. A friend of mine got me watching UFC back somewhere in the early single digits. I can't be sure exactly when because we tended to watch them on tape and not live and I initially remember watching the first three or four in one sitting. Until after Zuffa bought UFC and got the ball rolling again with them, I watched almost every fight (UFC and later Pride) on tape. My involvement up until about two years ago was a mix of sometimes getting a PPV, sometimes missing it, sometimes finding fights online (especially before zuffa really clamped down), picking up DVDs, etc.
The reason I mention my fan history is that it could impact what you get from the book. For me, the first half of the book was very involving. Back when I was first watching some of the early UFC days I had no idea what was going on behind the scenes. There was no bloodyelbow.com or similar site to visit, I lived only off of the tapes I got hold of. So it was great to get a look at all the backstage stuff with fighters and the businesses. Getting to watch the history unfold in a (mostly) linear fashion was something else I enjoyed in the book. When watching things here and there, sometimes playing catch-up (especially with Pride) or missing events all together it was great to get another chance to relive it. This book definitely made me nostalgic and want to rewatch many of these fights again.
The second half of the book (from a bit past when zuffa bought UFC and especially once Pride was gone and the TUF era began) was a bit less interesting to me. Mostly because it was information I've come across online, read elsewhere, re-watched these "more modern era" fights in many reruns on Spike, etc. That's not to say the second half is not still good, just pointing out the difference in the emotional connection I had. First half sucked me right in; second half was a bit more leisurely read. For any fan that was just getting into MMA when TUF started and didn't dive fully in; there would still be quite a bit of history in there to learn.
As a whole the book took a fairly even approach to events it talks about. Giving readers a look at something they rarely see on mma history lessons often featured by the UFC (now that they are the top dog and own most of every great fight library)-- both sides of the story. Not to say it attacks the UFC, quite the contrary; it simply gives you all the shades of gray and let's you make your own decisions. In the end it really didn't change my opinion on any company view or fighter view I had, it just have me more information about it all.
All in all it was a good book and I'd highly recommend it to any fan. Even if you are one of those fans that already knows-it-all; you might still enjoy reliving the early years of the sport. Really though, the most disappointing thing about the book was that it gave me a little more respect for Snowden and might make it harder for me to give him crap on here. Oh well, I'll always have Kid Nate.