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5 Oz. of Pain’s MMA Holiday Gift Giving Guide

I receive solicitations on a regular basis from people asking me to endorse an MMA-related product that they are involved with, whether it’s a new apparel company, a book that was just released, and or a DVD.

For the mot part, I’ve always been hesitant to use this forum as a way to promote their products. For one, has evolved into a breaking MMA news site with a traditional web magazine-style format as opposed to a blog consisting of informal journalistic rules. And second, in many cases, I am simply unfamiliar with the product and am not comfortable offering a recommendation towards an item that I am not completely sold on myself.

However, there are indeed some quality retail items out there that I really believe in. And as a service to our readers, I am going to offer a few MMA-related gift buying recommendations of the non-apparel variety in honor of the holiday season.

If you have an MMA fan in your life and are tired of giving them the same mundane gifts over and over, then I suggest you take a break from the monotony and give them one of the following items:

Total MMA: Inside Ultimate Fighting by Jonathan Snowden (ECW Press) – Overall, I am not a big fan of books. My lack of enthusiasm for them isn’t because I am against reading, but because I think a lot of books are being written today by people that aren’t skilled enough to be writing them. A book is a huge investment of time and a writer better make the experience worth my while.

MMA especially falls into the above category. Every month I receive a solicitation to endorse a book. I don’t have much free time these days and when I have carved out time to read MMA books, I’ve been unable to make it past the first few chapters. The common faults I find with most MMA books is that they are either a simple exercise in self-indulgence; read like they were written by a high school senior working on a term paper; or they come as though they were rushed to market with the primary purpose of capitalizing on the MMA gravy train.

Outside of Sam Sheridan’s A Fighter’s Heart, I hadn’t read an MMA-theme book that caught my fancy. That was until I opened up Jonathan Snowden’s Total MMA: Inside Ultimate Fighting.

Jonathan has become a writer for this site but I am not recommending this book for his benefit – I am recommending it for yours. The book quite possibly is the best piece of literature I have read regarding MMA. If the history of MMA was taught as a college course, Total MMA would be the official textbook used for the class.

While many MMA books I have read have lacked credible prose, Snowden’s syntax reads in an authoritative manner. If the book tells you something, you feel as though you can take it to the bank. Which is important considering Snowden presents you a history of MMA taking you all the way through the days of Vale Tudo; to the birth of the UFC in 1993; MMA’s origins in Japan; and all the way up to today.

Total MMA is not only an educational read, but it is a fun one. Reading it took me back to days of the sport I had long forgotten, while also illuminating a great deal of the sport’s history that I either was unaware of or ignorant to.

Buy this book now and thank me later.

Ordering information: The book is available for $13.57 on and can be ordered by clicking here.

Renzo Gracie: Legacy (DVD) – Unless you’re new to this site, this will not be the first time you’ve heard me recommend the new documentary chronicling the amazing life of MMA and jiu-jitsu legend Renzo Gracie.

Despite being a student of Gracie’s, first-time director Gethin Aldous chose to make a film about Renzo that wouldn’t serve as yet another PR device to help further the Gracie legacy, but an honest look inside the life of one of the most amazing personalities you will encounter in mixed martial arts.

Legacy not only brings you the ups in the career of Renzo Gracie, but also the downs. In fact, more attention is paid to the setbacks Gracie suffered during his professional MMA career as opposed to his triumphs as one of the leading black belt instructors in the art of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

Legacy is educational and cool at the same time — and it doesn’t get any cooler than seeing footage of a training session between Renzo and the late Ryan Gracie inside of Renzo’s Manhattan jiu-jitsu academy in which the two brothers got out of control during a rolling session that nearly turned into a full-scale brawl.

Other high points during the film include Renzo’s attempt to redeem the Gracie family legacy against Kazushi Sakuraba following Sakuraba’s victories in PRIDE over Royce and Ryan.

Another can’t miss part of the film is Renzo’s preparation for his 2005 fight vs. B.J. Penn in Hawaii for the Rumble on the Rock promotion.

In a day and age where switching schools is commonplace, the Gracie family takes you back to the old school days when leaving a camp in order to start your own gym was akin to an act of treason. The heat up for the Gracie vs. Penn fight was bitter and personal and the ill will lives on to this day, as Renzo was quick to point out during a special Q&A session during the documentary’s October premiere at the United States Sports Film Festival in Philadelphia.

MMA finally has a movie that fans can be proud of and I strongly urge you to make sure watch Renzo Gracie: Legacy.

Ordering information: The DVD retails for $16.99 and can be ordered through by clicking here.

FIGHT! Magazine – There are a TON of MMA-related magazines on the newsstands these days. Some are good but most are pretty bad. However, in my travels, I’ve found only one magazine to be great and that magazine is FIGHT! Imagine Sports Illustrated during its golden years in an MMA-only format and you have an idea of what FIGHT! is about.

You could say I am biased considering I have written for the magazine since its inception but I’ve had opportunities to write for quite a few other magazines and have turned them all down. Why? Because I love being associated with a magazine that just about everyone I speak to in the industry considers the gold standard of all MMA publications.

FIGHT! especially has a lot of credibility with fighters, and when I train at my gym, I get a ton of compliments for my articles in the magazine. Considering I can’t roll worth a damn, it’s nice to at least have credibility for something.

While FIGHT! has a few of the cliché departments such as training techniques and photo galleries depicting industry insiders living the MMA lifestyle, it never gets carried away. FIGHT! is focused on bringing compelling content that not only appears to fighters, but also to fight fans who are passionate about MMA but have no desire to ever take an MMA or jiu-jitsu class.

The magazine has gathered some of the best writers in the business such as Neal Taflinger, Sam Sheridan, and Jim Casey to bring you some of the most hard-hitting features you will find in this sport.

At the risk of sounding crass, FIGHT! is so good that I not only read it while I am in the bathroom, I even read it when I’m outside of it. For someone who works over 70 hours a week, that’s high praise.

Ordering Information: A 1-year subscription to FIGHT! is just $18.95 for 12 issues and can be ordered through

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