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Battle of the Books!

This past weekend Jake and I put on some pants and left the confines of our comfy blog basement to hit up New York City. The reason: to check out the Battle of the Books, a dual book release party / underground MMA event. Those of you who are regulars on the site know Matthew Polly, who contributes posts from time to time and is about to release his latest book, Tapped Out. That bad boy comes out on November 17th.

Also regularly linked on Fightlinker is Jim Genia, most famous around here for his acid trip recaps of The Ultimate Fighter. His book Raw Combat: The Underground World of Mixed Martial Arts, just came out on November 1st. As it’s name implies, Raw Combat is all about the sketchy New York fight scene so Jim had the connections to set their book release party up in a small basement gym in Manhattan that would also host several quasi-legal fights.

Since I hadn’t gotten my copy of Jim’s book yet I didn’t know what to expect. I figured maybe dudes would fight in headgear or elbows would be disallowed. Two minutes into the first fight I realized how wrong I was. As the two fighters crashed to the ground, they started kneeing each other in the head, PRIDE style. We were all crowded around the cage so closely you could smell the sweat coming off the fighters. The building was full of book industry types who watched as quietly as the Japanese at Saitama. You could hear the knees bouncing off skulls with a dull tuk tuk tuk sound. It was pretty damn gritty and real.

The night featured four fights, although we almost got five. After the fight designated as main event finished in three minutes, the promoter announced they were going to find a second opponent for the winner. We’d joked earlier about people stepping out of the crowd to fight in the cage and all of a sudden it didn’t seem like such an absurd possibility. Unfortunately, the only guy willing to fight on such short notice was an hour’s subway ride away so things wrapped up without another match.

(The rest is after the jump!)

On the book release side of things, the entrance to the gym had been converted into an area to mingle and munch on a variety of finger food. My favorite was something Matt’s wife called ‘white crack’, salted peanuts dipped in yogurt that Polly’s mother June had brought with her. I got to meet Joey Varner, the guy who whipped Matt into fighting shape for his Tuff’n’Uff fight in Vegas. Jake cornered Matt’s jiu jitsu coach John Danaher and had a good chat about quantum physics and intergalactic communication. Danaher mentioned that Georges St Pierre believes he’s been abducted by aliens, which certainly makes more sense than aliens picking up fat rednecks from New Mexico.

All in all it was a great night of fights and a great weekend amongst friends in New York. Matt Polly took everyone for Chinese on Friday and busted out the Cantonese he mastered while training in Shaolin to order the best soup dumplings I’ve ever had in my life. Jim Genia hosted us on Saturday after the book release and we had a great time watching UFC 138. It also turns out our newest Fightlinker scribe Dick lives in New York and we downed several pints together. It was totally worth the 15 hours of bussing, even with the screaming babies we had to endure both ways.

If you’re looking for a good MMA book to read about the crazy underground fight scene in New York, Raw Combat is for you. Jim’s hella oldschool and knows more about the culture than anyone else in the sport, and those of you who’ve read his stuff on his blog or MMA Convert know he’s got skillz. And if you can’t wait for Matt’s book Tapped Out, may I recommend you pick up a copy of his last book American Shaolin, which is kinda the spiritual prequel to his adventures in MMA. I can’t recommend that one enough – it’s probably the best book I’ve read in the past five years.

  • Letibleu


  • glassjawsh

    have a contest. give away a copy of each book to the winner(s)

    or dont

  • jim genia

    I’d be down for that, except I think Ryan and Jake took some of my silverware while staying at my pad.

  • frickshun

    Can’t believe you fuckers all got together & didn’t tell me!! I need more real life friends : (

  • iamphoenix

    lol at high lighting a meet up with richard when I will speak for everyone and see we hate his guts.

    just…fucking omahgaa ryan please tell me you at least did this to his stupid face for me.

  • DJ ThunderElbows

    Glad you cats got to have some good dumplings while you were here.  He didn’t mention you cats on his blog, so I actually believe the silverware line.  Those eyebrows have always looked shifty to me.

  • frickshun

    Thanks for the BLOODY NOSE Phoenigga!!

  • CAP

    That’s the only way to take a Chuck Norris punch and live to tell about it.

  • dick

    Frick, I was going to invite you, but I looked at my phone’s directory where the name Debbie Downer would be and realized that I never got your number.

    Seriously, though, that was officially the awesomest book party I’ve ever been to (I had an ex who was in publishing and she took me to the Coach UFC “Fighter” book party… it wasn’t even close). If you had told me a month ago that I would be going to a book party that had awesome homemade food AND live fights, I would have told you to GTFO. Thanks again to Matt and Jim for the awesome time and the books. I’ll make sure to use my super powers to get people to give you their moneys.

    And Ryan and Jake- New York has a really big bedbug infestation, and I thought you should have the real New York experience, so I brought a little baggie of their eggs and sprinkied them on your jackets while you were in the bathroom. I hope you don’t mind this totally funny joke.

  • frickshun

    ^^You should change your name to Dick Dastardly. Alliteration will make you funnier & the word “dastardly” might make you more intimidating ’round here…..

  • jim genia

    Dick, what was that UFC book party like?  Just curious at where the bar was set.

  • Predator8u

    jake cornering, “white crack”, and talks of quantum physics and intergalactic communication sounds like a great normal underground MMA event. Now hows about a podcast?

    BTW my moneys on Mr. Polly’s book.

  • dick

    Jim- The UFC party was this weird mix of fashion people and MMA people. It was held at Barney’s, which is like a fancy clothing store, because the guy who wrote the book is the head of Coach. Mandy Moore was there along with a bunch of fighters, but what’s the use of that if they don’t actually, you know, fight? There were lots of women there, at least more than at the average MMA-related event, but they were mostly fashion people. And I can’t talk to people in too fancy of clothing. It scares me. The fights and the opportunity to get myself onto the super-secret UCL text message list outweigh that by a million to one.

  • matthewpolly

    as long as you get people to give us their moneys, then, dick, you are a hard-on for me. but mostly you should direct them towards jim’s book. it is a great read.

  • CAP

    If you have moneys direct your hard-ons toward Jim?

  • matthewpolly

    he gives better head (writing)

  • frickshun

    This got weird.

  • Letibleu

    But this is more awkward:

  • matthewpolly

    thanks letibleu, for saving me from myself.

  • Letibleu

    Anytime. Cant wait to get the book(s).