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How the Hell Did I End Up Cageside?: An Accidental MMA Writer’s Memoir is the working title of a book recounting my days as USA TODAY’s first mixed martial arts beat writer, a time that coincided with the rise and fall of several challengers to the surging Ultimate Fighting Championship.

I started paying attention to MMA when I was doing the Sports Scope blog at USA TODAY, where we were trying to expand our horizons and bring more sports into the fold. When I returned from my book leave in 2008, MMA became one of my official responsibilities.

And I dived right into the issues as well as the day-to-day event coverage. One of my first stories was a USA TODAY cover story pegged to the CBS prime-time fight card featuring YouTube sensation Kimbo Slice, and I explored the world of the many challenges to the newly popular UFC. Over the years, I reported on the difficulties of getting MMA sanctioned in New York, the realities of drugs in MMA, and the tough job of being an MMA referee.

I also went to big fight nights. Rashad Evans knocking out Chuck Liddell. The massive UFC 100 card in Las Vegas, with Georges St. Pierre cruising to victory and Brock Lesnar pulling his pro wrestling antics. I continued to report for USA TODAY for a while after my departure from the full-time staff, seeing Randy Couture make quick work of boxer James Toney.

I had hoped to publish a book on The Ultimate Fighter, and I spent a lot of time in 2012 completing the draft. It was never published, but some of the interviews will live on in my Cageside book.

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