Hundreds of pages jam-packed with so much mixed martial arts history, facts, interviews, detail, and dramatic photography, can leave you with multiple headaches if you read it too fast.

Jonathan Snowden, member of the U.S. Department of Defense, and Kendall Shields, English and judo teacher, have taken up the task of trying to cover everything you could possibly imagine on the sport of MMA in their The MMA Encyclopedia. From the Gracies to Brock Lesnar, this encyclopedia allows you to look back, A-to-Z, at the evolution MMA has undertaken since the mid-20th century to the summer of 2010. 

Not every single fighter to compete in MMA is mentioned—Cristiane Santos is profiled, but not Sarah Kaufman. However, if the fighter competed at some point in the Ultimate Fighting Championship there is a good chance they are mentioned. Some fighters/celebrities/personalities are mentioned only in passing, like Butterbean, Mark Schultz and Reed Harris. Regardless, there are more than enough MMA individuals profiled to keep even hardcore fans satisfied.

Mega stars like Fedor Emelianenko, Randy Couture, George St. Pierre, get about four pages, while fighters like Matt Hume, Ed Herman, and Patrick Smith, all barely get a page. Each fighter profile comes with their win-loss-draw record, their debut, notable wins and losses. The personal stats give you an idea of the fighter before you read the bio. The back of the book has listings of every UFC event result as of 2009, UFC streaks and records, all Pride results and records, Dream events as of 2009, Dynamite!! and Sen Goku event results.

The content of the encyclopedia is more than just straight statistical information. Interviews with certain fighters give a better idea of rivalries and why they decide to fight. The authors give opinionated views on fighters and do not shy away from rumours. For example, Chuck Liddell being pushed as the one of the main UFC stars despite his eye-poking that UFC commentators always conveniently said were “inadvertent,” or they did not mention it at all. Steroids have a section where the authors honestly discuss how this problem has hurt the sport and will continue to unless action is taken.

For those looking to learn about the background of MMA and for those obsessing with knowing everything about MMA, this book is for you. The authors did a spectacular job researching and compiling together this encyclopedia. An appendix would have been handy and dating the encyclopedia in the title would help when the book becomes dated. This read is a strong challenge for any definitive MMA guide, although controversial at times, it is always entertaining and informative.    

Take time to enjoy this read, it is a book you will want to read over and over again.

The MMA Encyclopedia

By Jonathan Snowden and Kendall Shields

ECW Press

Released in November 2010

585 pp. (listed 340 pp. elsewhere, but listed in the book are 585 pages)


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