The MMA Encyclopedia is hands down, no contest the best single volume reference work yet written on Mixed Martial Arts, Pride and the UFC. It's a very fun read too.
Co-written by Bloody Elbow's own Jonathan Snowden and Kendall Shields with photographs by Peter Lockley, The MMA Encyclopedia is the kind of book that can hang out on your coffee table for months and provide five minutes of infotainment each and every time you pick it up.
In fact the damn thing is so distracting that the review has taken me much longer than it should have simply because every time I pick it up to double check something I end up getting sucked in for 15 minutes at least. Want to explain the essence of Evan Tanner or Phil Baroni to a friend who's beginning to learn the sport? Hand them The MMA Encyclopedia, it'll give them the quick and dirty breakdown you were struggling with and add a couple of funny anecdotes too.
This isn't your grandfather's encyclopedia, long on charts and stats and low on color. No, it's co-written by the inimitable Mr. Snowden and his unique knack for the sly aside peppers the book with comments that inform, enlighten and infuriate all at once.
Of course it's not perfect, that's not possible in a book like this. A few favorite legends are left out -- Erik Paulson and Igor Zinoviev are the two I noticed -- there are a couple of inaccuracies and most impossible to fix, the book is fighting a losing battle against time as new fights happen, new stars emerge, old legends collapse and it's not possible to keep current.
Nevertheless, The MMA Encyclopedia shows nothing as much as the real value of the book format even in 2010. Sure I have the whole internet at my fingertips and can always find updated information, but I can't take it to bed for a relaxing 10 minutes of MMA reading before turning out the lights. Nor does my laptap make for satisfactory crapper company the way The MMA Encyclopedia does.
All in all, it's a fine book and an excellent Xmas present for the MMA fan on your list.
Disclosure: I was given a free review copy. Score!