A unique look into a side of MMA that only a few know and only Genia can give Chris Palmquist, partner, MixedMartialArts Out Freakin Cold Forget pay per view Forget championship belts or sanctioning bodies This is Mixed Martial Arts combat in its purest, rawest form Follow Jim Genia into the illicit world of vale tudo anything goes Locations are always changing and known only to a few, from run down, shuttered gyms to speakeasy combat cages The ruthless damage exacted on the human body leaves a trail of hard won scars The fighters battle for everything but a payday, risking it all for honor and pride In a world of conformity, these are men of action who struggle against rules, selling out, and their own demons Jim Genia offers on the mat access to a brutal arena and the men who spill their blood there Captures the good, the bad, and the ugly Matthew Polly, author of American Shaolin It s a raw, wild scene and Genia takes you in his pocket for the ride Sam Sheridan, author of A Fighter s HeartPages of No Holds Barred Photos


10 thoughts on “Raw Combat: The Underground World of Mixed Martial Arts

  1. Greg Greg says:

    Outside of the UFC, Strikeforce, Bellator, M 1, Pride RIP , WEC RIP and any other fairly high profile pro MMA organizations that I have missed which there are a bunch there are people slugging it out and banging in smaller shows trying to make a name for themselves and beyond those smaller pro and amateur shows there are people in New York City one of two States in the country that still has not made MMA fighting legal , or that s what I ve heard, looking on the internet it looks like th Outside of the UFC, Strikeforce, Bellator, M 1, Pride RIP , WEC RIP and any other fairly high profile pro MMA organizations that I have missed which there are a bunch there are people slugging it out and banging in smaller shows trying to make a name for themselves and beyond those smaller pro and amateur shows there are people in New York City one of two States in the country that still has not made MMA fighting legal , or that s what I ve heard, looking on the internet it looks like there are three states where it is not legal, New York, Vermont and Connecticut, but Connecticut is weird because Mohegan Sun has it s own athletic commission and holds sanctioned MMA fights at their casino, so it s sorta legal there if you say the casino is part of Connecticut who meet in martial art schools, boxing gyms and other venues they can find to hold fights with very few rules, no prize money and most of the time no doctors or EMTs on call It s called the Underground Combat League UCL and it might be the most pure MMA organization if you think of MMA as being a direct descendent of Vale Tudo, the no holds barred, anything goes fighting competitions from Brazil I didn t know anything about the UCL until I came across this book at work a couple of weeks ago Of course once I did see the book I became instantly fascinated with the idea of it s existence and I vowed to myself that I d find a way to get to see one of the fights I figured if I could play poker at an illegal club run by some Russians I could find a way to partake in the other fairly legitimate activity that is legal in other parts of the country but not for us New Yorkers I haven t actually seen one of these fights yet, but the book and the authors website did help clue me into some other MMA things going on in the Big Apple, things beyond just being able to take classes and spar sometimes not that I want to fight, I just want to go watch, I m probably too old to think of trying to actually fight at my age although it s a tempting thought It s slightly bizarre that MMA is illegal illegal being a weird word here in New York State Schools run that offer MMA classes, and in those classes you can spar doing MMA The major components of MMA Boxing, Muay Thai, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Wrestling are all above board activities in New York There are bjj tournaments, there is professional boxing and muay thai fights held at places like Madison Square Garden, just about every high school in the state probably has a Wrestling program, never mind most of the NCAA schools There are also tournaments for thetraditional martial arts, like Karate, and Tae Kwon Do But mixing them all together and letting a fighter chose between disciplines within a fight, that isn t above board, at least not in a sanctioned fight setting and the New York State Athletic Commission is fairly strict about trying to shut down underground shows As I said it s a tad bit strange or bizarre to me, especially since we re a long way from the early days of the UFC when Royce Gracie wrecked people in a seemingly effortless manner with his bjj and wrestlers were dropping boxers on their backs and then turning their faces into ground meat The era of the purely one dimensional fighter is for all purposes gone, and even the specialists the pure strikers, the pure submission artists still know they have to have some skills in the other areas to stand a chance It s no longer a competition between mismatched disciplines and ineffective flashy martial arts, at least not at any sanctioned level Of course everything I ve said is pretty much common knowledge for anyone who pays any attention to MMA, the opposition is usually fairly uninformed when it comes to their arguments but on a purely gut level it can be a little shocking the first time you watch someone get ground and pounded, or watch say see last weekends Strikeforce fight where one fighter snaps another fighters arm in a submission hold That shock holds quite a bit of sway though and it s tough to explain to someone that there isto the fights than pure barbarity and what looks like homoerotic groping on the ground That isn t necessarily true about the UCL though, where it sounds like you still can see a fight between a boxer and one of the power animal style of martial arts and see which one prevails in an actual fight This book is about some of the people who fight in these underground bouts It s also about what it would mean if MMA did get sanctioned in New York State, and to see that quite a bit of the book deals with quite active and quite regulated fight scene in New Jersey that has no major underground scene, but does have sanctioned amateur fights with quite a few rules that make the fights soundlike intense sparring bouts than an actual fight and a variety of professional shows going on The book also deals with some of the organizations that have made a run at the dominance of the UFC, doomed organizations like the IFL and EliteXC, which made it to network TV years before the UFC and had some of the highest viewed fights in MMA history but still managed to fall apart because of mismanagement and an upset loss in one fight by the one star they had, underground fighting legend and internet sensation, Kimbo Slice.On an informational level the book is really interesting, especially for someone like me who likes MMA and watches a fair amount of the major events but doesn t have the time energy motivation awareness mobility work schedule to look for the smaller shows going on in neighboring states, pay much if any attention to the big MMA forums like sherdog where I m sure I d be keptin the know of what is going on in the less visible areas of the sport or who knows very many other people who are interested at all in this unlikely thing that I keep gettingandfascinated by Except for some of the big fighters who have come out of the NYC area and that there are some top notch schools in the area, I didn t really know anything about the MMA world of New Jersey, and figured there were probably some fights going on below the radar in New York, but I had no knowledge at all about them My problem with the book is that it got confusing at times with the names of people I had a hard time following who some of the people in the book were, most of the people were only given first names, which I understand because there are some difficulties that can arise for fighters who have taken part in UCL style events in New York some promoters won t allow fighters who took part in underground fights to fight in their events I suck at remembering names, so this is mostly my fault, but I would have liked to get little clues to help me recall who people were, especially when they hadn t been mentioned for a few chapters Similarly, there was a weird vagueness to some other details, like the author would mention that a fighter went on to fight a former UFC champion at an event in some other state, but the UFC champion or former UFC fighter wouldn t be named, just referred to cryptically I m sure I could have easily googled to find out who the author was talking about but it confused me a little why names weren t given I wondered if there was some strange UFC rule in place, I ve heard that they are sort of controlling to an unusual degree when it comes to what gets written about the organization, but else where in the book names like Forrest Griffin and BJ Penn get used so I don t think that is it The names thing got me kind of distracted while reading but it wasn t a huge deal I think if I had a better memory for names I wouldn t have had this problem at all MMA fans in New York are definitely the target audience for this book, it s fun to read about the fights taking place in the corners of the five Boroughs, but there is definitely plenty of material that will interest people who aren t from NYC and are interested in professional fighting in general The book ends with an attempt to explain why the author is drawn to covering this sort of fighting and I think he does a great job here explaining what it is that is so great about watching an MMA fight, that is something I don t think I ve ever succeeded in doing once, even though I ve given it my best at least a few times


  2. Benjamin Benjamin says:

    The main failure of this book is that it simply doesn t deliver on its premise Only a small part of the book is actually about underground fighting and that isn t particularly interesting or compelling Most of the book is actually about life in the minor leagues of mixed martial arts which is a fine topic for a book but that wasn t why I wanted to read this.


  3. David Karpel David Karpel says:

    Genia isn t the best writer, but as a reporter of a time and place I ve never been he does the job well enough Essentially, he captures the grit of underground mma It s a fascinating and disappearing world, as mma becomeslegitimate across the country.