Nearly every sport has at least one compilation consisting of the best stories ever written about it.
The Best American Sports Writing series has been a day-one purchase for me for nearly 20 years. The stories in these compilations weren’t just great stories or fine examples of writing; they inspired me to get better as a writer. They still do. And they bring me back to Earth. There are times where I’ll feel pretty damn good about a story I’ve just turned in, and then I’ll read something like Wright Thompson’s masterpiece on Michael Jordan and realize I’m still so far from being the writer I want to be.
To my knowledge, mixed martial arts has never had a compilation of its best work. In 2019, the media world as a whole is almost entirely dedicated to a never-ending news cycle because that’s how we stay in business. Mixed martial arts is no different. There is a constant stream of fight cards to preview, predict, analyze and recap, which leaves little room for the slower-paced kind of storytelling we used to read in magazines, back before the internet came along and ruined everything.
But even with most resources dedicated to the here and now, you can find some great storytelling in mixed martial arts. I asked readers on Twitter and other media members to send me their favorite stories ever written about the sport, and they responded enthusiastically.
With the past taken care or, my hope now is to turn this into a yearly series, published in January or thereabouts, which features the best MMA writing from the previous year. If you read something that you feel deserves inclusion on that list, send it to me.