An overview of the sport known as mixed martial arts and some of its players, from fight-fan Jones.
Mixed martial arts is a furious style of fighting that combines a variety of traditions—sambo, jiujitsu, muay thai and taekwondo, as well as catch wrestling and boxing—into an acrobatic display of violence. One reason for the sport’s appeal is that it is real, as opposed to the sham antics of professional wrestling: The blows are true, and the blood is, too. Jones surveys the origins of the sport in sometimes-breathless prose, with all its infighting and rough-and-tumble antics. He profiles many of the fighters and gives highlights of their great matchups. Details are likely to appall readers who are not already enthusiasts: “Sonnen struck Silva’s body and face nearly 300 times,” in a match that was merely minutes long. And can Jones really be serious when he writes, “It is well known that many boxers have suffered long-term effects due to repeated punches to the head, but the sport of MMA is still too young to know what a career of taking strikes to the head will do”? Duh. These fighters wear minimal gloves, and one look at their faces in the many photos that accompany his book will let readers know just what is going on.
As a sports historian, Jones has done a thorough job, but it’s for MMA fans only. (Nonfiction. 10-18)