Saleh Stevens' History of MMA
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Saleh Stevens' History of MMA

From Rome to Today

About the Book

Told by a former MMA combatant whose promising career came to an unexpected end due to a freak sparring session injury, “Saleh Stevens' History of MMA - From Rome to Today” covers the many critical influences that ultimately shaped the practice of mixed martial arts as it is understood today. In his first book, the author begins by offering his insight into the role of the earliest practitioners of pankration, a sport that was included in the original Olympic Games.

Starting with a centuries-old sport and style of combat mythologized in the stories of a number of Greek and Roman heroes, Stevens goes on to detail how MMA came to grow out of a variety of concepts and philosophies coming from seemingly disparate sources. From Japan to England, Brazil, the United States and beyond, the history of MMA frequently crosses international borders and is often adopted with great zeal by those who encounter a teacher capable of sharing the principles of an approach to martial arts that favors adaptability over rigidity. 

In presenting the history of MMA all the way through the contemporary era of UFC and “The Ultimate Fighter,” Stevens offers a number of interesting anecdotes in addition to the detailed overviews aimed at providing the reader with the proper background and context. Whether it is President Theodore Roosevelt’s regular practice of engaging in MMA-style training sessions at the White House or Muhammad Ali’s boasting in advance of his match with Antonio Inoki, “Saleh Stevens' History of MMA - From Rome to Today” succeeds in providing an entertaining and informative look into the people, organizations and events leading up to MMA’s rapid growth in popularity over the last decade.

Formerly an MMA competitor whose success as an amateur seemed to foreshadow a lengthy career as a professional, Stevens has shifted his focus to coaching after suffering a severe lower-leg injury that eliminated any possible future as a combatant. As a coach, Stevens believes in a detailed approach to training and has therefore placed a significant limit on the number of athletes he is willing to work with at any given time. 

A certified nutritionist who holds degrees in biomechanics, exercise physiology and history, Stevens spends his time away from training up-and-coming fighters by writing for the popular MMA website he founded several years ago. Though MMA seems to be at the core of Stevens’ varied pursuits, the coach and author is just as likely be watching a Bruce Lee film as he is to be reading the works of Aristotle.

About the Author

Saleh Stevens
Saleh Stevens

Once a promising prospect as an amateur combatant in mixed martial arts, Saleh Stevens’ professional aspirations were thwarted by a freakish and devastating lower leg injury suffered during a routine sparring session. After multiple surgeries and an intensive physical rehabilitation, Stevens made several attempts at a comeback despite the limitations caused by his injury. Though these attempts ultimately fell short, Stevens has since made a seamless transition from fighting to coaching and now trains several up-and-coming combatants at the same facility in which his own career began.

Upon retiring from competition, Stevens returned to school to earn additional degrees in exercise physiology and biomechanics while also becoming a certified nutritionist. Through the combination of his personal experience in competition and his impressive academic background, Stevens is regarded as one of the best young coaches in the world of mixed martial arts. Despite this growing reputation and increasing demand for his expertise, Stevens has intentionally limited the number of pupils he works with in order to ensure he is able to devote the kind of personal attention each fighter deserves.

In addition to his burgeoning career as a coach and trainer, Stevens is also the founder of an MMA website devoted to covering a wide variety of subjects that include everything from specific training advice to news and analysis of the most recent UFC events. Encouraged by his blogging success, Stevens has expanded his writing pursuits in order to provide readers with more in-depth insight into the world of mixed martial arts and the UFC. In his most recently published work, Stevens recounted the surprisingly vast history of mixed martial arts, beginning with the early Olympic sport of pankration and closing with the modern era of MMA and the UFC.

Stevens, who was deeply interested in learning about the history of MMA following his initial exposure to the combat sport, counts Bruce Lee as among the most important influences in many aspects of his life. After seeing Lee take on basketball legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in "Game of Death," Stevens was profoundly moved and immediately sought out everything Lee had produced during his lifetime. While this began with Lee’s work in television and film, Stevens was most inspired by the founder of Jeet Kune Do’s many philosophical writings and his theories regarding fitness training. 

It was after reading about Lee’s beliefs regarding the importance of formlessness in fighting style that Stevens became inspired to begin training in mixed martial arts. Stevens’ first training session was enlightening, as he quickly discovered his natural athleticism would not allow him to best any combatant who possessed even a modest understanding of the techniques and strategies used in MMA. This was a major part of the appeal for Stevens, as he often found himself disinterested in the competitive sports in which his superior athleticism more than made up for any lack of skill-specific training.

Even though there are many who would mourn the loss of a promising athletic future, Stevens has found that his debilitating injury has served as a constant source of inspiration for his many other endeavors. Stevens often encourages his pupils to develop a true understanding of the importance of a balanced approach to all things, noting that a well-rounded individual can easily survive a loss that others might consider tragic. As a result of his encouragement, Stevens’ pupils often refer to him as a philosopher of MMA instead of a coach, believing the academic-sounding title is more befitting of the holistic approach to training Stevens developed after being inspired by Lee’s similarly philosophical and balanced style.

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