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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.

This book is basically salvaged from a book I wrote called Inside The Ultimate Fighter, which was never published because publishers were terrified to handle an MMA title at the time. The parts having to do specifically with the reality show were repurposed into a series of posts at Bloody Elbow.

Recent posts

  • Mayweather-McGregor: A corporate bailout, not a fight - I’m certainly not the first person to tell you I won’t be watching Floyd Mayweather box Conor McGregor tonight. It’s one thing to watch Randy Couture pummel James Toney in the co-main event of a strong UFC card. It’s another to shell out $99.99 to watch a UFC fighter who’s third, at best, in the current pound-for-pound rankings of a down period for MMA taking on a boxer who, for all his personal flaws, knows his craft about as well as anyone ever has. McGregor isn’t even the UFC fighter who would bring the most entertainment value to a freak-show …
  • It’s 3 a.m. Smile! You’re on camera! Inside The Ultimate Fighter - Fighters get used to the cameras, sort of, but maybe not each other. Several TUF alumni sound off in this excerpt from Beau Dure’s unpublished book about the show. Source: Inside The Ultimate Fighter: Fishbowl format distorts reality for reality TV – Bloody Elbow
  • Inside The Ultimate Fighter lives … at Bloody Elbow - I wrote a book about The Ultimate Fighter that never saw the light of day. But Bloody Elbow will publish excerpts for the next 10 weeks. Here’s the story of the book … Source: Inside The Ultimate Fighter: The best-selling tell-all book that never was – Bloody Elbow
  • How Kimbo Slice and MMA challenge our notions of celebrity and humanity - Written in the wake of a dizzying weekend of MMA news, with one of the sport’s top journalists (Ariel Helwani) temporarily losing his UFC credentials and one of the sport’s most famous figures (Kimbo Slice) passing away suddenly. Source: How Kimbo Slice and MMA challenge our notions of celebrity and humanity | Sport | The Guardian June 7, 2016
  • MMA writing: 2008-2015 - Selected pieces on mixed martial arts — all USA TODAY except as noted: Issues Aug. 4, 2015: Is the UFC turning into Rollerball? (The Guardian) July 12, 2015: Huge night for McGregor, Lawler and UFC 3.0(SportsMyriad) May 25, 2012: UFC, MMA wrestling with testosterone issues March 28, 2010: State of New York still not submitting to MMA advances March 10, 2010: In mixed martial arts, hitting the head can hurt the fist Sept. 15, 2009: UFC president tries out softer stance in business matters July 7, 2009: UFC’s early beginnings packed more than punch May 7, 2009: New York still fighting …


ufcI 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 took note of the MMA prospects of a then-obscure judo Olympian named Ronda Rousey.

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.

When USA TODAY made some staff changes, I dropped out of the fight game for a bit. But like any aging person in the fight game, I’ve been making the occasional comeback, such as a Guardian piece comparing the UFC’s uniform policy to Rollerball.

Full clips by topic: mma, ufc, the ultimate fighter, usa today



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