The cage door clangs shut. The lock slides into place. The voice in my head drowns out everything else. What the hell is wrong with me?
Follow the journey of Mark Tullius, former cage fighter and boxer turned author and stay-at-home dad as he puts his love of fighting and his sociology degree to use. What began as a personal exploration to unlock his reasons for continuing to train and pursue a fight career evolved into an in-depth sociological study of why competing in mixed martial arts (MMA) appeals to fighters. Why do these men and women subject themselves to the endless hours of grueling training required for the full-contact sport? In MMA a fighter’s goal is to punch, kick, and choke an opponent into submission, and if there is blood and injury along the way, so be it. What compels these individuals to develop the necessary strength, endurance, discipline, and skill despite the risks involved?
Instead of interviewing a handful of elite fighters, Mark traveled to every corner of the country, looking to train at different gyms and find fighters interested in showing the world who they are and why they fight. He finished the project after visiting 100 gyms and interviewing 340 fighters.
Although it wasn’t necessary, Tullius trained with the fighters and soon came to realize how valuable that time was, cultivating mental strength by surrounding himself with positive and inspiring individuals. It encouraged him to continue his project when he still had doubts about seeing it to its completion. Finally, Tullius believed that his willingness to get on the mat and demonstrate his trust in the fighters encouraged them to trust him and open up to a stranger about their fears and mistakes, dreams and accomplishments.