For years, there has been a debate about whether or not mixed martial arts has hit the mainstream. While there is no definitive answer, the publishing world offers another point to the argument. After a championship is awarded in each of the four major sports, the athletes on the roster try to cash in with a book deal to tell their stories. In turn, you get books written by the backup to the backup.
In terms of sheer quantity, MMA is following the lead of mainstream sports with its foray into the book business. All sorts of fighters, referees and even UFC President Dana White’s mother have tried to parlay the success of MMA into books of their own. Inevitably, the market gets flooded by books we are just not that interested in. The latest fighter to try his hand is UFC 149 headliner Urijah Faber, with “The Laws of the Ring.”
Known for his unorthodox style in and out of the cage, Faber carries that lifestyle into the pages of “Laws,” which turns out to be delightfully different. “The Laws of the Ring” is less about Faber’s life and more about his philosophy, and it is being marketed as a motivational self-help book organized by his “Laws of Power.” With the help of New York Times bestselling author Tim Keown, Faber touches on all 36 laws in an effort to help you, the reader, “embrace the real rather than chase the artificial.”
While the cause is certainly noble, two questions came to mind before reading the book. Do we really need 36 laws of power? Who is Faber to be putting together a motivational self-help book? The latter question was addressed by Faber early on. In an effort to not give away too much, I offer the words on the back cover: “You’d be surprised how much you can learn when you make it your profession to stand in an enclosed cage with another man, with the intention of defeating him ... by strangulation, knockout, submission ... it’s the history of the world compressed into a series of five-minute rounds.”
As for the 36 laws, they do not make for as heavy a read as the number might imply. The book can be wrapped up in no more than a couple sittings. Faber uses “The Laws of the Ring” to focus on self-help and motivation. If he can add his own personal touch by discussing what it was like growing up on a Christian commune, he certainly will, but the book includes just as much about the characters he has met along the way. Readers will find out more about UFC flyweight title contender Joseph Benavidez, and they will also be introduced to Red Robinson, who can only be described as a character. So many intriguing stories being told leave one with the desire to continue turning the page.
Faber has become known as one of the more relaxed fighters in the MMA industry. After reading “The Laws of the Ring,” you come away with a better idea of what went into making the man. You are also left with the impression that, even if Faber were to lose to Renan “Barao” Pegado on Saturday in Canada, it will not be something he allows to define him.