• MMA Worldwide - Afghanistan

    Fightland travels to Kabul, Afghanistan, to meet Rohullah Mohammadi, a five-time kickboxing gold medalist who's devoted his life to teaching the kids of his war-torn country the art of MMA.

  • In East Harlem They Do MMA the Bruce Lee Way

    Dawadah has never had a gym—just a heavy bag and a wooden training dummy stored in an East Harlem community room closet. For ten dollars a class, he’ll train anyone with an interest in Jeet Kune Do, the hybrid martial arts system developed by Bruce Lee.

  • Anthony Bourdain and Others Throw on Gis

    For two years now, Ottavia Bourdain's friends and family have been witnessing her descent down the jiu-jitsu rabbit hole. So, she figured, why not show them what it's all about and treat them to an introductory lesson?

  • Pakistan - Part 2

    Pakistani MMA got its start in an apartment above a real estate office. It's come a long way since. Fightland traveled to Lahore to meet Bashir Ahmad, a professional fighter and founder of the country's first-ever mixed martial arts team, PAK MMA. In part two of the series, Bashi…

  • The Psychology of Submitting

    Mixed martial arts is unique in sports in having a major percentage of its outcomes decided by a choice: to endure pain and risk injury or to tap out. The science of how pain works within the body is widely understood. What is less clear is what happens inside the mind in the dec…

  • MMA with the Bourdain Family

    My husband likes to say that when we first met I was a delicate flower. I think he’s just trying to rationalize how he could find himself in a relationship with a woman who could kick his ass. Truth is, there was nothing delicate about me when we first met.

  • Ottavia Bourdain: My Jiu-Jitsu Addiction

    When I first enrolled at the Renzo Gracie Academy in New York City I would hear people say how Brazilian jiu-jitsu is a way of life, how it made them better human beings, how they wouldn’t ever stop or trade it for anything else. I thought these people were a little crazy.

  • The Tornado and the Beach

    The story is as crucial as crucial could have ever been. We're talking Grimm's fairy tale crucial. A family goes out one day, in this instance to a beach, and a boy, their boy, falls asleep, face down in the sand. Then the boy wakes up to the complete and total absence of his fam…

  • The Ultimate Fighter's Passage to India

    The Elite Football League of India launched this summer to yawning indifference from audiences in the sub-continent and curious derision from observers in the US. Importing American football—shoulder pads, helmets, down markers, and all—to a country where even rugby is a fifth-ru…

  • I'm a Man of Letters Learning to Fight with an MMA Team

    In a rash moment, I took up with an MMA team. I wanted to learn how to spar. The other week, I was caught clean with a right cross that brought tears to my eyes. I would be lying if I said it upset me.

  • The Snowman Vs. the Cops

    Four years ago, heavyweight veteran Jeff Monson squared off with riot police at the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minnesota. Here's the story behind one of MMA's best photographs.

  • MMA Enters Its Golden Age Just in Time for Fightland Launch

    Recently I decided the reason I’m such a huge fan of mixed martial arts—beyond my affection for blood-splattered knockouts and tactical submission battles—is because it gives me the only opportunity I know of to witness a sport becoming itself.

  • No Hot Stove Here

    The perpetual nature of MMA's “fighting season” means fans can't luxuriate in their opinions about fights and fighters for too long. Events like Saturday's UFC come around with enough regularity to turn predictions into dust.

  • The Return of Georges St. Pierre

    Reigning welterweight champ Georges St. Pierre will be back in the ring for UFC 154 on Saturday, facing interim champion Carlos Condit. Will it be a dream fight?

  • UFC Fighters Want to Get in Bed with the Swoosh

    Junior dos Santos, the current UFC heavyweight champion, is reportedly in talks with Nike about an endorsement deal. The Nike deal would be great for dos Santos for any number of reasons, and not all of them monetary.

  • Weightless History

    MMA is so new that it’s unhaunted by the nightmare of history. There are no curses in the sport, no doomed fighters, nor tragic figures with hexes placed on them or their ancestors. And when the better fighter wins, the crowd moves on.

  • Bloody Detachment

    Moments like the Evan Dunham-TJ Grant fight, when an injured fighter leaks blood all over the cage but keeps fighting like nothing happened, are litmus tests for MMA interest. Casual fans will recoil, brutes will be delighted, but deep-down MMA fans see our shared mortality and i…

  • Necessary Violence

    I hate real fighting as much as I love MMA. I believe it's no gladiatorial free-for-all, but a real sport with rules and a value system. But fighters are predisposed toward violence, and sometimes I just want to see good fighters fight.

  • Being Forgettable Is the Deadliest Sin of All

    There’s no fate in this world worse for the enterprising and ambitious MMA fighter than allowing a fight to go to a decision. “Don’t leave it in the hands of the judges” is basically a commandment. No one wants to lose, or to be ignored.

  • A Bad Ass in Twilight

    Trumped-up anger and staged indignation can be found anytime by anyone with a remote control these days, but true self-awareness after years of self-delusion is rare on television, but that's exactly what Phil Baroni, washed-up MMA dude, displays on Fight Factory.

  • The Write Stuff

    On the whole, sports writers are a sedentary lot. Outside of George Plimpton, few football writers play football. But getting in the ring helps to better understand MMA fighters, and it's also strangely relaxing. My mind is never so quiet as when I’m fighting someone who’s fighti…

  • Family First?

    "My gym is my family” is a classic trope in the world of MMA. It’s one of those lines that affords the hardscrabble fighting life some nobility, but it also means fighters who should be fighting each other don’t, and messes things up worse than an elbow to the eyeball.

  • Rising Up, Rising Down in MMA

    MMA fighters can be on top of the world one minute and in purgatory the next. One bad run can send you to the regional circuit, condemned to toil in feeder promotions like the Titan Fighting Championship, where young fighters learn their trade, middling fighters ply their trade,

  • What It Means to Be a Big Mouth in MMA

    Who has time to worry about explaining to SportsCenter why they’re going to fight? Figuring out how to fight is hard enough. Only Chael Sonnen could find the energy to master both combat and marketing. Anderson Silva, meanwhile, just wants to fight. They represent the two warring…