A review and excerpt from Dave Walsh's new MMA novel "The Godslayer."
Dave Walsh of Liver Kick and the founder of SBN's late, lamented Headkick Legend, has written a new novel The Godslayer which draws heavily on his knowledge of MMA. Dave was kind enough to let us excerpt a chapter of the book which is at the bottom of this post.
Dave did a great job here with Godslayer. Truth is often stranger than fiction and in the case of Godslayer, I kept having flashbacks to past moments of modern MMA history and saying, "I remember that happening with those guys."
The writing is sharp. The storytelling is fluid. The transitions are smooth. The most important question I have when it comes to reading a genre of book that isn't my cup of tea is to ask, "Is this an easy read?" Even at 260 pages in length, this book is a very easy read. I read it in full during an afternoon reading session.
Without giving too much of the book away, here's the general storyline of Godslayer. Alek Turner is a 38-year old retired MMA fighter. He was champion of a league called the United Fight League, whose front-man is named Jeordie Johnson. Jeordie is two parts Dana White, one part Vince McMahon. He's absurdly over-the-top and, for an outsider to the MMA industry, completely unrealistic. However, every action and quote coming from Jeordie reflects some crazy moment from the past that you've seen from Dana or Vince when it comes to dealing with fighters.
Now in retirement and paid a monthly salary to show up at events as an ‘ambassador' for the UFL, Turner finds out that retirement sucks. He hates dealing with his ex-wife and the drama she puts up by bringing her new man into his life while complaining about Turner not being a good father. There's definitely an element of Mickey Rourke from The Wrestler here. Turner hates being told what to do by everyone else, including the promotion he's working for. He was pushed into retirement by the promoter because the fans said he was washed up as a fighter. If you know the life stories of Randy Couture, Matt Hughes, Don Frye, and many other retired MMA fighters then you will recognize that parts of their life stories seem to mesh together here to come up with the Alek Turner character.
that is the beauty of this book. The lines between MMA history and fiction are completely blurred. The actions of the characters are entirely believable for people who are involved in the fight business. I wouldn't suggest you reading this book if you're looking for a pick-me-up Anthony Robbins-style motivational kind of deal, but it's dramatic writing mixed in with the darker side of the MMA sport and the consequences prize fighters often suffer from because of their past actions.
The Godslayer by Dave Walsh
00. The World Champion
"Ladies and gentlemen, fighting out of the blue corner, weighing in at two hundred and five pounds, fighting out of Los Angeles, California, he is the current, reigning, United Fighting League Light Heavyweight Champion of the World -- the Godslayer -- Alek Turner!" The announcer stands rigid in the center of the six-sided, chain link enclosed ring, microphone in hand while with his other hand clutching onto a set of index cards points to the corner where Alek struts back and forth, ready to uncoil.
The crowd erupts as he walks back and forth in front of the black banner draped over the side of the cage, being held up by a few members of Alek's crew. Pete, his head trainer stands in the center with his glasses gleaming under the bright spotlights, clapping his hands together and shouting encouragement. There is a time as the pre-fight ceremony is taking place where Alek likes to shut his mind off, forget his humanity, his responsibilities and that there is a real world. Instead, there is just three men that matter; himself, the referee and the man staring him down from across the cage.
The referee pulls them both over as the announcer drapes his arm underneath him, holding the microphone up to his mouth while he confirms that he went over the rules backstage and wants a clean fight. It always struck Alek as a worthless gesture -- they all knew the rules by now -- especially him. He was on top of the world; the UFL Light Heavyweight Champion, with no end in sight for his new found reign, this his first title defense. The man standing on the other side of the referee is Renato Santos, a Brazilian who worked his way up to this shot against Alek, but Alek knew that he stood no chance once that bell rang. The look on his opponent's face is that of a man who is already defeated, trying to play the role of a tough guy ready to usurp the newly crowned king.
They slap gloves and step back to their corners as the droning sound of the crowd just turns into white noise and the referee's hand cuts down through the air, cuing the start of the fight. Alek quickly struts to the center of the ring, hands up as Santos slowly saunters out in a squatting stance, keeping his lead hand circling around to try to throw Alek's attention away from him looking to drop down, grab his leg and drag him to the canvas. Alek throws a few soft jabs, waiting for Santos to throw a hook and then quickly duck down.
Like clockwork, Santos throws a left hook that misses and dives for Alek's left leg, just as Alek quickly brings his left knee up as it connects flush onto the temple of Santos who staggers back, catching himself with his right hand and propping himself up as Alek patiently waits for him to move back into striking range. When Santos is back on his feet Alek quickly hits him with a jab with his left hand before following up with a right hand to the body, then a left hook to the body as Santos moves to protect his midsection. Alek quickly swings his right arm around, getting a full extension and coming down from what felt like the top of the world, swinging a crushing overhand right that connects to the top of his opponent's head, sending him crashing to the mat.
Alek doesn't bother hopping on him, he just walks off, pointing for the referee to check on him. The buzz of the crowd and their forms begin to come into focus for him as the cage door spills open, officials and doctors spilling in to check on the fallen Santos. Pete and the boys quickly rush in, shouting and celebrating, running up to Alek and squeezing him before letting him go.
The reason that Alek makes it look so easy is because for him, it is easy. He laughs to himself as more and more people file into the ring. Jeordie Johnson, the President of the UFL walks over to him with the Light Heavyweight Championship belt in his hands, shaking his head with a huge grin on his face.
"The winner, and still the UFL Light Heavyweight Champion of the World, Alek Turner!" The announcer shouts out, dragging out each syllable as the fans erupt even louder than before.
"You fucking did it again, Turner," he embraces Alek before the ref grabs his hand and raises it up high. "You fucking did it," Jeordie laughs as he pulls the belt across Alek's waist and snaps the metal buttons into place.
"Told you that I would," Alek smiles, turning around to look at his grinning boss. "Told you."
"You said you'd make it look easy," he shakes his head, still grinning. "You always do. You're gonna hold onto this belt for a while, I can feel it."
The sound of the crowd swells up as Alek takes a deep breath, soaking in the accolades and for the first time, looks around the jam-packed arena and notices just how many people are there. It isn't his job to know how many people were there, but the smile on Jeordie's face meant that this show was a success, and the ease of Alek's victory in his first title defense meant that a star was being born, you could smell it in the air.
The Godslayer was now a living legend.