MMAFrenzy recently read and reviewed Brian J. D’Souza’s Pound for Pound: The Modern Gladiators of Mixed Martial Arts. D’Souza’s book seeks to demystify the legend surrounding some of the sport’s most influential stars to date. Be sure to check out our review of the book below, and stay tuned for an interview with author himself later today.
Mixed Martial Arts promoters, writers, and fans have often sought to name a fighter that is the best “pound for pound” compared to their peers. Promoters often search to control the narrative around these competitors to further their profitability with fans, often leaving MMA writers to either add to legend or challenge it in order to get the real story. The latter is the case for Brian J. D’Souza’s Pound for Pound: The Modern Gladiators of Mixed Martial Arts, which seeks to cut through the fog of promotion to get at the real story behind some of the biggest stars in the sport’s history.
D’Souza breaks down the stories of five of the best fighters in MMA history with a look behind the curtain at Georges St-Pierre, BJ Penn, Anderson Silva, Mauricio “Shogun” Rua, and Fedor Emelianenko. The book’s biggest success comes from blending a collection of interviews with the fighters, managers, trainers, and friends to put together a comprehensive picture of the men outside of their fights and promotional narratives.
Pound for Pound succeeds largely due to the author’s use of objective journalism throughout the course of the book, all while weaving the stories together into cohesive narrative. The author gives all sides of each situation a voice rather than just sticking to friends or disgruntled former partners. D’Souza also shows a keen eye for detail for the gyms and other locations visited during the gathering of information. While this detail may seem tedious to some, it allows the reader a greater sense of the surroundings involved with each fighter’s section.
It begs mentioning that the book’s best section is saved for last, as cover athlete Fedor Emelianenko’s section could almost stand alone. While it may seem tempting to only read the final section, the rest of the book not only helps inform the final piece but allows the reader to have a better understanding of “normal” MMA business practices before undertaking an engaging story about one of the sports most beloved and debated fighters. The book’s opening section on UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre seems particularly relevant in the wake of his recent title defense at UFC 158 and the attacks on the champ’s persona by opponent Nick Diaz.
In short, Brian J. D’Souza’s Pound for Pound: The Modern Gladiators of Mixed Martial Arts is a must-read book for those who prefer a more factual account of some of the sport’s biggest stars. While the it may seem a little daunting due to its length and fearless dedication to accuracy over substance, the reader will be rewarded for their efforts by gaining a greater understanding of not only the fighters, but the overall business of MMA.
I recommend this book for every MMA fan, but especially those looking for a less promotional take on the biggest stars in the sport’s history and a gritty look at the tough business side of MMA.
Brian J. D’Souza’s Pound for Pound: The Modern Gladiators of Mixed Martial Arts is available as a traditional book and as an ebook via Amazon.com.