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There are so many great stories in MMA. The birth of the sport in itself is a fantastic tale and the story of its rise most likely hasn’t even properly begun yet as MMA is still so young.
So many MMA fighters have had incredible lives so far. With some of them, you only catch snippets of those lives and their battles in interviews and such. Luckily for us, MMA biographies are becoming more and more popular and we’re able to really dig into the details and see what these people are like, where they came from and what they’ve been through and oftentimes we’re given glimpses of how and why they became successful.
We’re able to see what they did differently to others that allowed them to excel in such a harsh and competitive environment and in some cases, really reach the pinnacle of the sport and become UFC champions.
These books give us a look at the mindset and behaviours of champions, and if you’re wise and resourceful enough, you can take this information and use it to reach your goals and excel yourself.
Best MMA Books Reviewed
Currently, there are plenty of MMA biographies on the market and almost all of them are valuable and worth reading. However, people are busy and don’t have the time to read literally every one that comes out. We’ve done the research and hand-picked the best five books that are both entertaining and informative.
Iceman: My Fighting Life – Chuck Liddell
Chuck Liddell was arguably the first huge star of the UFC and MMA in general. Before him, there were fighters like Royce Gracie, the Shamrock brothers, etc. and they were insanely popular. But none reached true mainstream success and household name stature like Chuck Liddell did.
He really put the UFC on the map and got it out there to a wider audience in ways that no other fighter had done before.
This book charts his early life and upbringing all the way through the bulk of his UFC career. He goes in depth to how he trained, life in The Pit with longtime trainer John Hackleman, what he did right, etc. Chuck is even candid enough to bluntly share his mistakes in training and in fights, particular his knockout loss against Rashad Evans.
This a short yet engaging read that any MMA fan would enjoy.
Win or Learn: MMA, Conor McGregor and Me: A Trainer’s Journey – John Kavanagh
If Chuck brought the UFC to the world, Conor McGregor launched it into the stratosphere. This book is about the life of Conor McGregor’s lifelong coach, John Kavanagh.
He starts his story as a child being bullied and how he grew up training martial arts as a way to fight back and defend himself. His journey then takes him to being an MMA fighter turned MMA trainer, owning his own gym and really struggling to build it and make it work in a tough economic climate.
As you may have guessed, eventually Conor McGregor works through his door, works his way up the ranks and then becomes the legend he is today. It’s great to get a glimpse at what a young Conor was like when he was younger and to have first-hand insight from his coach as to what makes him stand out amongst so many others.
The Way of the Fight – Georges St. Pierre
GSP isn’t quite like most other fighters. He’s stated before that he doesn’t even like fighting. He’s been far more candid than many others about the nerves and anxiety he experiences before a fight and the fear he has to fight through to do what he does best. And that’s what a lot of this book is about: Fear. Georges talks at length about how everything he has come through fighting through fear and doing what needs to be done. Whether that be the fear, and reality, of being bullied, the fear of his opponents during fight camp and the fear that he wouldn’t be able to fight again after sustaining a serious injury.
It’s rare that you get a direct insight into one of the best fighters that has ever lived. Anyone that really wants to reach the pinnacle in their chosen vocation ought to read this book.
My Fight/Your Fight – Ronda Rousey
The most famous UFC star of all time has to be either Conor McGregor or Ronda Rousey. No-one else has truly had the reach or popularity as these two.
Ronda Rousey made history as the first ever female UFC champion, in an organisation that had previously said that there would never be a female fighter in the UFC, let alone a champion. Let alone a true star like Rousey.
It’s easy to see someone like Ronda standing in the ring with that championship belt around her waist and think that things have always been golden for her. But of course, anyone that follows MMA knows that isn’t the case and knows about the struggles she’s had to endure to get as far as she got.
The book deals with the suicide of her father and how it helped shape who Ronda is as a person, as well as the expert mentorship from her successful mother, AnnMaria De Mars.
Her high highs and extremely low lows make this book a rollercoaster ride and a must-read.
The Pact – Cody Garbrandt
This is a book about both former UFC champion Cody Garbrandt and an equally tough boy named Maddux Maple. Both Cody and Maddux have had their fights in their life. For Cody, it was the fight towards the UFC championship, his ultimate goal. But for Maddux, he was fighting for his life and battling cancer.
The book details how when Cody was at his lowest point, his friendship with hometown fan Maddux helped spur him on and keep at it. Together they made a pact that Cody would win a UFC championship and Maddux would beat the insidious disease of cancer.
It’s a real inspiring read from both parties. Cody had it tough growing up, in a bad environment where it was far easier to fall of the rails completely then stay on the straight and narrow. But all of Cody’s troubles, and the readers, are really put into perspective when seeing the horrors of Maddux’s battle.
A tough read at points and emotional throughout, it’s still incredibly inspiring and really makes you think more than a typical MMA biography normally would.
There is a wealth of both MMA and general life knowledge in the above books. You can open any one of them and come away with a lot. There’s plenty of information in the books that can help you improve your MMA and BJJ game and to help get your mindset laser-focused.
But even without that, all the above books are incredibly entertaining and engaging. If you’re an MMA fan, you won’t be able to put any of them down.