Total MMA: Inside Ultimate Fighting

Total MMA: Inside Ultimate Fighting

4.6 5
by Jonathan Snowden

View All Available Formats & Editions

?Since the beginning of time, men have engaged in hand-to-hand combat. In Ancient Greece, they called it Pankration, a no-holds-barred battle. Over time, one complete combat system was replaced by a variety of limited ones like karate, boxing, and wrestling. In the modern age this created an eternal question: who was tougher? Could a boxer beat a wrestler?


?Since the beginning of time, men have engaged in hand-to-hand combat. In Ancient Greece, they called it Pankration, a no-holds-barred battle. Over time, one complete combat system was replaced by a variety of limited ones like karate, boxing, and wrestling. In the modern age this created an eternal question: who was tougher? Could a boxer beat a wrestler? Could a kung fu artist dispose of a jiu jitsu man? The Ultimate Fighting Championship answered those questions emphatically in 1993 — and Mixed Martial Arts was born. Early stars like Ken Shamrock and Royce Gracie propelled this new sport into the North American public’s consciousness while pro wrestlers Nobuhiko Takada and Masakatsu Funaki led a parallel evolution in Japan, where cultural forces led to fighters becoming mainstream celebrities. With no television contract and little publicity budget to speak of, the UFC was forced to adopt an aggressive marketing scheme to get public attention. The potential for carnage and blood was played up and a predictable media outcry soon followed. Politicians, led by Arizona Senator and Presidential candidate John McCain, were able to ban the sport in most states and even managed to suspend pay-per-view broadcasts. While the popularity of MMA was at an all-time-high in Japan, MMA failed to thrive in America until Spike TV finally took a chance on the controversial sport and The Ultimate Fighter thrust mixed martial arts back into the mainstream, creating new mega-stars like Forrest Griffin and Rashad Evans, and breathing new life into old favourites. For the first time, Total MMA: Inside Ultimate Fighting arms you with all the history and information you need to know to understand the contemporary world of Mixed Martial Arts, where the backroom deal-making is as fierce as the fighting.

Editorial Reviews

OK Judo Player
The standard against which any and all future such works will be measured. The bar has been set high.
Inside Fights
I highly recommend it for yourself or for the MMA fan in your life.
Five Ounces of Pain
If the history of MMA was taught as a college course, Total MMA would be the official textbook used for the class.
A definitive history of the sport, and it tackles just about every major figure and event in the sport's history.
Scientific Wrestling
I have been thoroughly impressed with the scholarship. Snowden really got the history of MMA right. Highly recommended.
Bloody Elbow
I just tore through . . . Jonathan Snowden's excellent history of MMA. . . . If you're looking for a one volume history of Mixed Martial Arts it would be hard to do better than this.
From the Publisher

"The best book on the real history of MMA that I've seen. . . . This book really is so great I couldn't put it down . . . it's a thorough history dating back to the turn of the 20th century, covering the heydays in Brazil, Japan, and major UFC opposition groups over the past 15 years in North America."  —Wrestling Observer

"If the history of MMA was taught as a college course, Total MMA would be the official textbook used for the class."  —Five Ounces of Pain

"A definitive history of the sport, and it tackles just about every major figure and event in the sport's history."  —

"I highly recommend it for yourself or for the MMA fan in your life."  —Inside Fights

"[Total MMA] is amazingly detailed with hundreds of footnotes as Snowden focuses on the expansion of MMA from its early beginnings to late 2008. Snowden obviously loves the business but doesn't shy away from exposing its darker sides and presenting both sides of arguments."  —

"By far the most definitive book on mixed martial arts I've ever read . . . I can't recommend this book more highly."  —The Angry Marks

"A go-to resource for the figures big and small in the history of MMA . . . It is hard to imagine any book in the future matching the detail and definition provided here . . . make it the cornerstone of your MMA library."  —

"I just tore through . . . Jonathan Snowden's excellent history of MMA. . . . If you're looking for a one volume history of Mixed Martial Arts, it would be hard to do better than this."  —Bloody Elbow

Product Details

ECW Press
Publication date:
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Sales rank:
File size:
9 MB

Read an Excerpt

Total MMA

Inside Ultimate Fighting

By Jonathan Snowden, Michael Holmes


Copyright © 2008 Jonathan Snowden
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-55490-337-5



Rio de Janeiro is known as "A Cidade Maravilhosa," the marvelous city. It's a tropical paradise, with some of the world's most beautiful beaches. Millions of tourists visit every year, drinking chope from a Botequim and having a good time in their Speedos or string bikinis. But Rio is also one of the world's most dangerous cities. Today the violence often leads to murder, but in the 1980s scores were settled with fists. And the most dangerous gang in Rio was the Gracies, a family with an obsession for proving its toughness that extended through the generations.

The toughest of them all was Rickson Gracie, a muscular street fighter with a hair-trigger temper and an unquenchable thirst for violence. For years the Gracies had been defending the honor of the family in rings, dojos, nightclubs, and in the streets. In 1988, Rickson was continuing the family tradition and gave beach goers a shock when he and a passel of his students, family, and friends descended on noted tough guy Hugo Duarte at Praia do Pepe beach.

"When our group arrived at the beach, Rickson was there with a group of more than 50 guys," future Gracie conqueror Eugenio Tadeu said.

Duarte offered to shake hands with Rickson, who would have none of it. Rickson Gracie was there to prove a point and slapped Duarte in the face with an open palm—the ultimate insult, and for years an act that necessitated a duel to the death.

"Before Rickson moved to the United States, he heard Hugo Duarte wanted to fight him, that Denilson Maia wanted to fight him, and Rickson went to the beach one day and fought that fight where he slapped Hugo," Royler Gracie said. "Rickson said, 'Let's go,' and Hugo said, 'Dude, I'm not ready.' So Rickson slapped him across the face and said, 'Now you have to,' so they had it out. On the beach, Renzo [Gracie] and Eugenio also had an altercation, but the crowd split it up."

Duarte would get off lightly. Surrounded by jeering jiu-jitsu students kicking sand and taunting, Duarte was videotaped being pummeled by Rickson.

"I tried to help Hugo, making a circle and not allowing jiu-jitsu people to attack him, throwing sand in his eyes like they were doing," Tadeu said. "It was not fair. They were planning to get us in this trap for a long time."

The tape would be edited to make it appear Rickson dominated the fight: Duarte's knees to Rickson's body were removed, and the times he had the advantage on the ground. Then the tape was used to sell the Gracie brand of "self-defense." Welcome to the world of the Gracie family and Gracie jiu-jitsu, where unprovoked thuggery is commendable and promoting the family name paramount.

But this story more properly begins in Tokyo during the late 1800s, where a 5'2", 90-pound jujutsu expert named Jigoro Kano realized he needed to train smarter instead of harder.

The Gentle Way

Jigoro Kano was a little guy, picked on by bullies and desperate to defend himself. The solution to that problem in 19th-century Japan was jujutsu, an ancient Japanese fighting system that had roots in feudal Japan and the time of the samurai. Originally the "gentle art" focused on everything—punches, kicks, throws, arm locks, strangles—and was truly martial in nature. It was one of more than a dozen martial arts a samurai would study during his life, but the only one that focused on weaponless combat.

The samurai were a dying breed. Commodore Matthew Perry had opened the islands up to the world, and Japanese society was experiencing severe culture shock. What was once a focus, the budo spirit of the samurai, suddenly seemed antiquated and dangerous. Jujutsu was dying.

In Kano's time, each ryu, or school, had a different focus and there was no unified approach. There were hundreds of jujutsu offshoots, each with their own traditions and techniques. Kano was a meticulous man, highly organized and thoughtful. He had studied at several ryu and was frustrated by the state of jujutsu. Kano decided to study each of the major jujutsu schools and take the best from each, creating judo, "the gentle way."

"In my youth I studied jujutsu under many eminent masters. Their vast knowledge, the fruit of years of diligent research and rich experience, was of great value to me. At that time, each man presented his art as a collection of techniques. None perceived the guiding principle behind jujutsu. When I encountered differences in the teaching of techniques, I often found myself at a loss to know which was correct. This led me to look for an underlying principle in jujutsu, one that applied when one hit an opponent as well as when one threw him," Kano said. "After a thorough study of the subject, I discerned an all-pervasive principle: to make the most efficient use of mental and physical energy. With this principle in mind, I again reviewed all the methods of attack and defense I had learned, retaining only those that were in accordance with the principle. Those not in accord with it I rejected, and in their place I substituted techniques in which the principle was correctly applied. The resulting body of technique, which I named judo to distinguish it from its predecessor, is what is taught at the Kodokan."

Jujutsu was a martial art, judo a way of life. Kano wasn't happy with the types of students who were studying jujutsu, men who were too often street fighters and common thugs. His judo included a strict code of ethics.

"Kodokan instructors and students were expected from the beginning to be outstanding examples of good character and honest conduct," judo historian Dr. Keo Cavalcanti said. "Any hand-to-hand combat outside of the dojo, public demonstrations for profit, or any behavior that might bring shame to the school could lead to suspension or expulsion from the Kodokan."

Kano's creation was brilliant. The ideas seem so simple now, but at the time they were revolutionary. Judo would include a belt system to distinguish beginning and advanced students. Students would advance from basic to complex skills studying lessons from Kano's teaching background. And most important was the creation of randori, or free play. This is what separated judo from most other martial arts of the time. While they promised to teach deadly techniques, there was no way to practice the "death touch" or the eye gouge without seriously diminishing your student population.

Kano understood that training students at full speed but allowing them to practice less deadly techniques—throws, elbow locks, and chokes—would create a much more effective fighter. Randori didn't allow striking or many submission holds. These were reserved for more theoretical training. But every day, the students at the Kodokan fought each other as hard as they could in techniques that would not cause lasting harm. It made them the toughest men in Japan, and they were out to prove it.

As you would expect, a rivalry grew between Kano and the old school jujutsu men. And while people respected Kano's theories and his idealism, there was a real question about whether his style would work, whether Judoka would be able to defeat jujutsu men in real combat. A tournament was organized by the chief of the Metropolitan Police in Tokyo, pitting 15 men handpicked from both schools of combat. In a very real sense, the fate of Kano's judo depended on the results of this tourney. Winning would prove once and for all that judo was not only creating strong and model citizens, but also competent fighters.

The Kodokan won 13 bouts and had two draws (against two unusually large and physically powerful opponents). Judo was here to stay.


It was Kano's dream to spread judo around the world. He traveled overseas more than a dozen times to spread the art of judo and worked hard to have judo recognized as an Olympic sport. Kano saw judo as a way of life that could benefit people throughout the world: through the pursuit of physical perfection, the Judoka would make himself valuable to society. Many of his students traveled all over the world to settle in distant lands and spread the philosophy and combat system developed by Kano. One of these students was Mitsuya Maeda.

Maeda traveled to the United States to spread the word about judo. His companions were Soishiro Satake and Tsunejiro Tomita, a respected teacher and veteran of the 1886 Tokyo Police tournament. They arranged a demonstration at the West Point Military Academy in New York, where a wrestler who wanted to see their techniques in action confronted the two. Maeda accepted his challenge and was immediately taken down. Here, there was some confusion about the rules of the contest. The westerners thought the fight was over when their guy pinned Maeda clean. Maeda continued to fight from his back and submitted the bigger man with an arm bar. He also demonstrated his judo against a boxer, winning the match.

Maeda and Tomita attended a reception that evening and demonstrated kata there. Out of the crowd came a challenge from a giant football player. The Americans turned to Tomita, the senior man, to represent judo in a second challenge. Tomita was past his prime, but could not honorably refuse the challenge. He was pinned and helpless against the bigger man. This was a setback, but judo was getting plenty of press, including a complimentary article in the New York Times and demonstrations at Columbia University and the New York Athletic Club.

Tomita and Maeda parted ways when Maeda began to associate with professional wrestlers and prizefighters. Maeda was not satisfied with the impression they had made in New York. He wanted to stay and show Americans the power of judo the best way he knew how. He wasn't a philosopher like Tomita or Kano. He would show judo on the mat in a series of challenge matches. He got a Japanese businessman to front him $1,000 and took on all comers.

Fighting became a passion for Maeda, and he would travel all over the Americas and even to Europe with a troupe of Japanese pro wrestlers, demonstrating the art of judo, even challenging the heavyweight boxing champion of the time, Jack Johnson. Maeda had over 2,000 fights and only a handful of documented losses, despite being 5'4" and 145 pounds. When he did lose, he was typically pinned by a larger wrestler. It is said he never lost a match while wearing the gi. Of course, it is hard to say which of the fights were legitimate contests and which were part of his wrestling act.

For example, in Mexico City, Maeda established himself at the Principal Theatre. His act was typical of the carnival wrestler. Maeda challenged any man in the house to face off with him. If he couldn't throw you, you earned 100 pesos. If you managed to throw him, you got 500 pesos. Nobody ever collected, and Maeda quickly developed a reputation as a tough hombre. The Mexican fans were excited when Nobu Taka arrived to challenge Maeda for the world jujutsu title. Taka surprised everyone when he won the fight, held at the Colon Theatre on November 16, 1909. At an impromptu rematch just four days later, a rematch likely with very different betting lines, Maeda reclaimed his reputation with an easy win. Taka, of course, was really Maeda's friend Soishiro Satake. This was how the group operated, seeing the world, making a buck, and spreading judo to the local populace, if not always in a manner Kano would have approved.

In Cuba, Maeda and his boys were known as the Four Kings, and they defeated a succession of Cuban tough men. In Spain they called Maeda "Conde Koma" (The Count of Combat), a name he would assume in place of his own on his subsequent travels.

After traveling all over the Western world, Maeda settled in Brazil, where he met a politician named Gastao Gracie and agreed to teach his sons how to fight.

The Gracies

"At the time it was considered a crime against the nation for a Japanese national to teach jiu-jitsu to a non-Japanese. But Count Koma decided to teach my dad. I think because my father was so skinny, Count Koma didn't think much about teaching him; he could never have guessed it would develop into such a large thing," Carlson Gracie said. "My father was the only one of the brothers to learn jiu-jitsu, and he taught all of his brothers. The brothers then passed the knowledge on to their sons."

Of course, this is patently ridiculous. Maeda was not only permitted to teach the martial arts to non-Japanese nationals; it was the purpose of his trip to the Americas. It's all part of the Gracie myth, an attempt by the family to sell their brand of judo to the masses. It sounds better to be in possession of a secret system, known only to the Gracies, than to be particularly gifted proponents of judo ne-waza (ground fighting). The Gracies are adamant that they are practitioners of "jiu-jitsu," not judo, that Maeda taught them ancient techniques, not Kano's judo. This seems unlikely, as Maeda was a Judoka and the system he taught the Gracies looks strikingly similar to judo. There is some confusion about the use of the term jujutsu instead of judo. They were interchangeable in Maeda's time, with Kano's judo seen as just a school of jujutsu. No matter what Maeda called it, there is little doubt that what he taught Carlos Gracie was judo, though perhaps it was tempered by his real world fighting experience.

Renzo Gracie writes in his book Mastering JuJitsu: "Maeda taught Carlos the excellent training methods of kodokan judo, with its emphasis on live randori [free sparring] and newaza [ground fighting] skills [Maeda was a kodokan student at the beginning of the newaza revolution in judo]. He also taught classical submission holds that were not part of the judo curriculum. In addition, because Maeda had been exposed to numerous fighting styles during his travels, he did not limit his teachings to judo. In fact, in one old photograph, Maeda is shown training without the traditional Japanese gi jacket, and it reveals him using a standard control and submission technique of Western catch wrestling: a half nelson and hammer lock. Maeda was a regular competitor in catch wrestling events while in England, and there is no doubt that he absorbed what he took to be useful from these arts and incorporated them into his training and teaching."

Carlos trained with Maeda for four years, but ever the wanderer, Maeda moved on to a new part of Brazil. But Carlos did not move on from judo; he was hooked on the art and taught his brothers Osvaldo, Gastão, and Jorge. His youngest brother, Hélio, was considered too sickly to be an active participant, but he sat in on the classes, studying every move.

"After learning jiu-jitsu from Koma, my father decided he would make that his life. And he started to motivate his brothers in order to create an unbeatable team, 'The Gracie Brothers,'" Carlos's daughter Reila Gracie said. It was the start of Gracie jiu-jitsu and the birth of the Gracie propaganda machine.

"My father moved to Rio in 1925, where he opened the first known jiu-jitsu school in the country. At that time, Carlos and his brothers were challenged to prove the superiority of jiu-jitsu. My father always tried to have a good relationship with the press. This way, he always got their victories on the front pages of the newspapers. This was very important for the beginning of the Gracie family's popularity in Brazil."

Maeda had set the table for Carlos, but now it was up to the Gracies to continue to learn and progress. Based on descriptions of what Maeda taught Carlos, it is likely he wasn't even a judo black belt when he struck out on his own. This means he would have learned ground fighting and some throwing techniques, but none of the striking that advanced Judoka would use to throw their opponents off balance so they could get in close for a takedown. This would have a tremendous impact on how Gracie jiu-jitsu developed in Brazil. The Gracies continued to figure it out on their own, and by the late 1920s, the Gracies were confident enough in their art to accept challenges from all comers. They were developing a reputation as men not to be trifled with, as Carlos and George won many challenges for the honor of the family. Carlos took out ads in the newspaper, challenging Brazil's tough guys: Want a broken rib? Look for Carlos Gracie.

It was only by accident that Gracie jiu-jitsu continued to advance as more than a judo spin-off. One afternoon, Dr. Mario, the director of the Bank of Brazil, arrived for his lesson and Carlos was nowhere to be found. His younger brother Hélio took over the instruction and changed the course of martial arts history forever.


Excerpted from Total MMA by Jonathan Snowden, Michael Holmes. Copyright © 2008 Jonathan Snowden. Excerpted by permission of ECW PRESS.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Jonathan Snowden is a former lawyer, radio DJ, and television producer. He has worked for the U.S. Army and the White House Communications Agency, is trained in Brazilian jiu-jitsu and the Army Combatives Program, and currently works for the Department of Defense. He lives in Vienna, Virginia.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >

Total MMA: Inside Ultimate Fighting 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
SurDragon More than 1 year ago
Being a mixed martial arts fighter and life longer martial arts enthusiast I was excited to finally find a book that showcased an unbiased history of the sport I love. The author gives you interesting and little known information on everything MMA from the propaganda machine of the Gracie family to the Mobster origins of ZUFFA. I couldn't put it down. It's a must read for any diehard MMA fan.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The most informative and detailed information on the true history of MMA that I have ever seen. I could not put it down. A completely unbiased look at the whole story of MMA from the very beginning. I thought I knew a lot about the history of MMA/UFC until I read this book. It put my knowledge to shame. Highly recommended reading for the avid MMA fan or anyone interested in the sports development.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
9 Cvl5s7wq7nbd7w2
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I, like many have a biased againsted fighters. They are violent and aggressive meatheads, right? I began to read this book out of curiosity and within the first chapter I was hooked. There is a shady history behind MMA, the current following has made it huge. Snownden describes each fight and each fighter to the point where I think that there is a boxing ring in front of me. I soon discovered each professionally trained fighter had alot more brains and passion then I ever expected. The respect that fighters have for themselves, their opponents and the art of fighting is emmense. I never really thought of fighting as anything but a spectator sport, but now I know that there is much, much more behind it. Since completing Total MMA, I have taken boxing classes and I have a whole lot more respect for the trainers and the fighters because it is a lot of hard work. I would recommend this book to all those who know nothing about MMA, or fighting in general, because chances are this will change viewpoints.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I. The best thing Mauricio "Shogun" Rua has going for him in his first fight back after a long injury layoff? Practice. He already found out the hard way what happens when you try to push it too far, too fast after surgery. He barely had enough gas in the tank to put away an aged Mark Coleman, who showed up to the fight with his own tank already on E. If Rua makes the same mistake again, and against a much better fighter in Jones, he deserves to wake up without the title on Sunday morning. II. Let's hope Urijah Faber is taking Eddie Wineland seriously, because oddsmakers sure aren't. At the time of this writing, Faber is as high as a 5-1 favorite against a guy who's won four straight, the last of which was about as brutal a slam KO as you'll ever see. I agree Faber is more well-rounded, but if he goes into this expecting an easy night - or, perhaps more likely, looking past Wineland all the way to Dominick Cruz - he's just asking for an upset. III. It's win or go home for Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic. Or at least it ought to be. In a recent interview Filipovic reportedly said that if he can't beat Brendan Schaub at UFC 128, "it would not be fair to continue." Regardless of whether he means fair to the fans, his legacy, or his body, he's right. Filipovic is 36 years old and his stay in the UFC has been unremarkable, to say the least. His last truly significant, unqualified win was over Josh Barnett in the Pride Grand Prix back in 2006. Since then he's scraped by with wins in the easy fights and losses in most of the tough ones (the Pat Barry fight being the lone exception). If Schaub hands him his second straight loss - and that seems very likely - the smart thing would be to call it quits. Then again, few pro fighters possess the kind of wisdom that allows them to walk away when it's time. IV. Mike Pyle beats one of the UFC's undefeated up-and-comers at UFC 120, and his reward is a Facebook prelim fight with Ricardo Almeida? I guess a Facebook stream is better than no stream at all, but still. One hates to think what would have happened if he'd lost the fight with John Hathaway. V. Nate Marquardt's test will be more mental than physical. On paper, Nate the Great ought to overpower and overwhelm Dan Miller, which probably explains why he's a 3-1 favorite. But after he had trouble pulling the trigger against Yushin Okami in a fight he (and he alone) still seems to think he won, you have to wonder whether he's in the right state of mind to get back into middleweight title contention. He told me earlier this week that he's having fun again as a fighter for the first time in years, but we have to wait and see whether he still feels that way on fight night. If he opens up like he did against Wilson Gouveia, Miller could be in trouble. If he hangs back as he did against Okami, the trouble will be all Marquardt's. VI. Can we lighten up on all the tired parallels between Jon Jones in 2011 and "Shogun" Rua in 2005? I get it: Rua was 23 when he won the Pride Grand Prix, just like Jones is 23 now. That's called a coincidence. They're still completely different fighters with completely different backgrounds and their big respective breaks have come in completely different situations. I know how much we all love the whole 'old lion vs. young lion' storyline in this sport, but this is not one of those fights. And you know what else? It doesn't need to be. You've got a 29-year-old champ coming off an injury la