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 listener 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.
I liked the book, but it was lacking content. I felt like it was rushed. I wanted to hear more personal stories and maybe more of analysis.