In this season of giving, what gift should you wrap up and adorn with a colorful bow for the mixed martial arts fan who has everything?
You can call your special someone's cable or satellite company and see if it'll sell you a season pass for the year's pay-per-view telecasts. I've never heard of such a subscription, but I can't imagine Comcast or DirecTV brushing you aside when you come calling, wallet in hand. Those pay TV folks love watching money flow in through the coaxial cable, and a whole lot of it would be headed their way if you purchased a year's worth of PPVs. Consider this: Next week's UFC 141 will be the fight promotion's 16th PPV of 2011, and at $55 a pop, well, you do the math.
For a little less cash, you can send your loved one to a UFC event. That'll still run you a few hundred bucks, though, even if the fight card is in your hometown and requires no plane ticket or hotel room. Yes, you can get in the building for less than a C-note, but you don't want to just get in the building. I've sat within blood-splattering distance from the octagon, and I've sat high in the rafters, and there's no comparison. Don't make your gift recipient squint at a couple of ants sparring in the distance. Let him or her really experience the fights.
Actually, if a true-to-life pugilistic experience is the ideal, why not give your gift recipient the feeling of really being in the cage? The sweaty soreness of training in multiple fighting disciplines. The butterflies and general uneasiness -- hello, weight cut -- as the bout approaches. The fight-night reality check in the form of stinging immobilization from kicks to the thigh and ribcage, the bitter mixture of pain and disorientation from punches to the head.
If that last possibility sounds like more than your friend can handle, you're still in luck. Matthew Polly has taken those kicks to the body and punches in the face so you or your loved one don't have to. In his new book,
It might have a longwinded subtitle --
But Polly was a college student while researching
Polly's humor is subtle, not forced. His inner conversation is honest. These are the things that propel the book forward, through his weeks of training at Xtreme Couture, the Las Vegas gym of UFC legend Randy Couture. When fight night arrives, you feel the nervousness the author feels. At the same time, he's still outward-looking, observant and even protective. He appreciates having training partners and friends present to support him, he writes, but insists that his parents stay away because, if he was taking a beating, "my mother might jump in the ring and go mama grizzly on my opponent." I won't say what happens in Polly's bout, other than to share his observation that he was hit so hard that "high school algebra disappeared forever."
Who needs algebra, anyway? To my way of seeing, reading is way more fundamental, and the value of a good read like
Actually, that algebra might come in handy in calculating the amount of entertainment contained in a couple of other MMA-related gift suggestions. First, let's tackle the coffee table-sized
Though he's the UFC's editorial director, the longtime MMA and boxing journalist is not issuing press release prose here. His accounts of every fight card from UFC 1 through last May's UFC 130 are alive and engaging, and sprinkled throughout the book he adds some lighthearted touches that you won't find in your dusty Britannica set. Speaking of which, why do we even need an encyclopedia when we can go online and wiki our way to whatever we need? Because as
Looking for something encyclopedic that covers a shorter time frame, something that doesn't merely tell you a story but allows it to unfold right before your eyes? Check out the
Anchor Bay is the company that sells single discs of each UFC PPV and also retrospectives organized by fighter (