A cultural and business history of the UFC, tracing the unlikely rise of mixed martial arts from what was derided in the '90s as 'human cockfighting' - more violence than sport - to a global pop culture phenomenon.
Senator John McCain once decried mixed martial arts as 'human cockfighting,' while the New York Times despaired that the sport offered a 'pay-per-view prism' onto the decline of western civilisation. But the violent spectacle of cage fighting no longer feels nearly as scandalous as it did when the sport debuted in 1993. Today, it's spoken of reverentially as a kind of 'human chess' played out in real-time between two bodies and the UFC is one of the most valuable franchises in the world, worth more than any team in the NFL, NBA, or MLB and equal to what Disney paid to acquire Marvel Comics. Once banned in thirty-six states and hovering on the edge of bankruptcy, the UFC has evolved into a $10 billion industry. How did cage fighting go so mainstream?
A rollicking behind-the-scenes account of one of the most spectacular upsets in American sports history, Cage Kings follows the desperate fighters, audacious promoters, fanboy bloggers, fatherly trainers, philosophical announcers, hustling sponsors, and three improbable twentysomething corporate titans on a darkly comic odyssey to normalize a new level of brutality in American pop culture-and make a fortune doing so. Stylishly written and poignantly observed, the book offers a provocative look at how the hollowing out of the American dream over the past three decades and the violence endemic to modern capitalism left us ready to embrace a sport like cage fighting.