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Recommended Reading: A Fighter’s Heart by Sam Sheridan

fightersheartbookOver the holidays I received a copy of the book A Fighter’s Heart by Sam Sheridan as a gift. I realize the book has been out for awhile at this point, but I just finished it and I can honestly say it was as good as everyone told me it was.

If you’re an MMA fan and haven’t read Sheridan’s book, I highly recommend you check it out. Sheridan’s first-hand exploration into the world of fighting is unique and well-written. I’m not a big fan of books, but I had no trouble getting through this one.

I especially enjoyed Sheridan’s accounts of his experience training in Brazil with Brazilian Top Team and also his behind the scenes perspective of a PRIDE show in Japan.

Some things in life never live up to the hype, but A Fighter’s Heart does.

  • dizzle says:

    I’ll read it if it’s a pop-up picture book.

    I’m not big into reading books myself. I think they should just make a movie for ADHD people like myself.

  • The Bean says:

    I’ve had this book in my hand in the store but i put it back. Im gonna pick it up next time though!

  • Luke says:

    “I’m not a big fan of books”

    Come on, Sam. Surely you don’t mean this.

  • Brad says:

    I read this book last year. I agree with Sam here. This book was extremely interesting and is a very quick read. Sheridan gives a fair and balanced opinion of his experiences. He trains Muay Thai in Thailand, Jiu-Jitsu in Brazil, and also trains with MFS in Iowa. He shares some great first-hand stories in a way that makes you feel as though you were there.

  • Todd says:

    “I’m not a big fan of books” This coming from a writer….hmmm

    Sam you’ve got to be kidding me?

  • Adam Morgan says:

    Not a fan of books? I’m disappointed. A Fighter’s Heart is a fantastic read.

  • Evan says:

    Hughes bio is very good as well. I am half way through it. Whether you like the guy or not doesn’t matter, still a good read.

  • Sam Caplan says:

    Luke, I’m an honest person. I’m being up front and acknowledging that I do not enjoy reading books. I apologize if that makes me sound less intellectual.

    I spend behind 60-70 hours a week behind a computer, reading and writing. When I have free time, the last thing I want to do is pick up a book and do more reading. I’m not going to be one of those posers who claim to enjoy reading and display a bunch of books on a book shelf that I’ve never read.

    Not to mention, I find most books that I read to be poorly written and lacking in compelling content.

  • Sam Caplan says:

    Morgan, when do you have time to read books? Between work, surfing the ‘Net for fights, playing Halo 3, and writing for this site, when do you have time to read a book?

  • Adam Morgan says:


    When I’m on the toilet. :)

  • Sam Caplan says:

    When do you read the sports section then?

  • Evan says:

    I would love to read something that covered PRIDE from stem to stern.

  • dizzle says:

    Adam is a robot that is programmed to understand the universe.

  • Sam Caplan says:

    Todd, I said I’m not a fan of them. I didn’t say I’ve never read them or don’t read them. Merely that when I do, I generally don’t like them.

    And you sound like my creative writing professor in college who proclaimed that “One cannot be a good writer if they are not an avid reader.” It’s simply not true.

  • paddiosf says:

    Awesome book, I’m reading it on my vacation in brazil, and I’m half way through the book and what a great journey through some of the world’s Top fight Camps, highly recommended…

  • Sam, I’m guessing your creative writing professor probably meant that you can’t be a good writer of fiction if you aren’t an avid reader of fiction. I agree with that statement. It’s hard to be a good writer of anything if you don’t read other people’s writing in that area.

    As for books, there are lots of good ones, even for people who don’t like books.

    I think any fight fan would love Never Come Morning, by Nelson Algren, and The Knockout Artist, by Harry Crews. I also think that any man would love Rock Springs, by Richard Ford. But I guess some people prefer, you know, TV shows or something.

    Ugh. Now I’m sad.

  • Gavin says:

    This is truly a great book. I bought it last year with my last thirty dollars, and I have read it cover to cover once, and at least five times all together. I actually reread parts of it within the last week. My favourite section is his description of going to Japan with Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira and his team for his third fight with Fedor. This book really turned me on to MMA, and I am happy to own it.

  • Zack says:

    I loved this book. The best parts of the book are the vivid descriptions of the Muay Thai camps in Thailand and his time spent living in a shitty room in Iowa training with MFS.

    It made me wonder what would happen if someone with time and money went to Thailand and started an MMA camp for “retiring” Thai boxers (according to the book most are past their Thai boxing prime by their early 20’s) what you might end up with – kinda like the camp someone started to help college wrestlers transition to MMA.

  • TD says:

    It’s been a while since I read this but Sheridan’s experience of training with Brazilian Top Team is he gets hurt on day one and doesn’t train again. But the book has some excellent reporting from the name brand fight camps. The behind the scenes account of Fedor-Big Nog 3 was the highlight for me. To enjoy that you have to stomach some pretty silly discussion of Sheridan’s thoughts on manliness. If you can stomach passages like, “I didn’t know if I wanted to join the peace corps or the marine corps, I just wanted it hardcore” then there’s good stuff to be read. Can’t say I enjoyed the chapter on dog fighting much

  • garth says:

    I actually bought this for my brother, the night before his birthday (we were getting together that evening) and finished it before I gave it to him. I’m not sure what the etiquette involved is, but I kept it in mint condition. The section on dogfighting was hard to read.

    Sam, I’d say find a way to force reading time in. Even if it sacrifices some internet surfing time. Right now I’m reading “Maximum City”, a sort of all-over literary journey through Bombay or Mumbai or whatever you want to call it. Always reading something…

  • garth says:

    “Not to mention, I find most books that I read to be poorly written and lacking in compelling content.”

    Youre getting bad advice from someone! What kind of stuff do you like? I’ll email you a list of stuff that rules.

  • Sam Caplan says:

    Garth, I’ve been getting advice about books since the age of 7. I’ve enjoyed a few, but I’ve felt the vast majority of them were boring reads. Especially the “classics,” which always struck me as ridiculous. Some snobs enjoyed a book and decided to make it mandatory for an entire high school to read it. Way to push your tastes on other people. One man’s “classic” is another man’s snooze fest.

    I find it funny that people are having a hard time that I enjoy books. It’s not from a lack of trying. I can accept that some of you enjoy books, can you please just accept the fact that I don’t? No use in trying to convert me because it’s not as if I’ve never read one.

    Garth, sorry, but I have no plans to “force” anything in. When I have free time, I already have designs on how I spend it. My favorite books are by Hunter S. Thompson — which technically aren’t books, just collections of articles that he’s written. The only “classic” I enjoyed was Catcher in the Rye.

  • Sam Caplan says:

    To make everyone happy, I am going to go to Home Depot and buy some wood and make a book shelf. Then, I will go to Barnes and Noble and buy a bunch of books that well-read people enjoy. I will put them all on the book shelf and take a picture and post it here and we can all pretend I read them cover to cover. :)

  • dizzle says:

    How elegant of you.

    Now don’t get all soft on us Sam start writing womens softcore romance novels.

  • garth says:

    you know what gets me? people posting opinions then getting all bent out of shape when others respond with their own opinions. funny, i thought thats what blogging was basically entirely about. if you want people to just not comment on what you say, turn on comment moderation or turn ’em off entirely.

    there’s a ton of incredible books out there that most of us will never hear of, including dedicated word freaks. that’s the only reason i offered.

  • “Some snobs enjoyed a book and decided to make it mandatory for an entire high school to read it”

    I see your point here, and I think high schools are to blame for some of the decline in reading. They try and start kids off with “classics” that meant a lot to people 100 years ago, instead of introducing them to contemporary stuff that has some relevance to their lives. I love a lot of classics, but many of them were written for a different audience with different attention spans and concerns.

    I think it’s a mistake to write it off as snobbery, though. I mean, guys like us who love MMA more than is healthy think of ourselves as connoisseurs, but to a casual fan we probably sound like snobs.

    And Garth, I’m always interested in hearing other people’s book recommendations.

  • Evan says:


    I read 1 to 3 books a month and I could not agree more. Classics suck. Plain and simple. Althought Farenheit 451 is incredible and worth the hype.

    In my opinion I think people are just surprised because you are a writer. I admit I was. I don’t consider it a negative that you don’t read books, just surprising.

  • Freedom says:

    I read this book last summer in Japan. While it was pretty interesting – his first hand experience interacting with MMA fighters I was not impressed with the whole section on dogfighting. The worst part was that he tried to justify it by saying that the dogs want to fight… and other bs.

    He is a smart guy who manipulates his publisher by saying that he wants to write a piece on MMA… his real intention is to train with them. Now I am not saying that this is a bad thing. He tries to do this with the reader too… He says that he wants to see what dogfighting is all about so that he can write about it. Yeah right!

  • Sam Caplan says:

    Evan, again, I didn’t say I don’t read books, I said I usually don’t enjoy reading them. I wanted to add emphasis to my point about how good I feel “A Fighter’s Heart” is by saying that it was one of the few books I have enjoyed reading.

    To me, writing and reading are two separate activities. Reading a lot of books doesn’t mean you can write worth a damn while not having read a lot of books doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t be a good writer.

  • Sam Caplan says:

    Freedom, I agree with you on the dog fighting part. However, I did find it very educational.

  • steve says:

    If you like Hunter S. Thompson (I love his writing). You should check out Hubert Selby Jr, he writes stream of conscious books my favorites are Last Exit to Brooklyn and Requiem for a dream.

  • Mr. Takedown says:

    I love it when Sam gets fired up.

    However, I never would have guessed that this site would have prompted a classic Caplan rant about “reading books”.

    I wonder what Linker will have to say about this one 😛

  • Sam Caplan says:

    Cava, I wasn’t fired up until you made the false accusation that I am fired up.

  • Sam Caplan says:

    Steve, I saw Requiem for a Dream. Great movie! Movies > books.

  • Evan says:

    Chuck Palahniuk

  • Captain says:

    I like books. Only losers don’t like books.

  • Captain says:

    Just kidding!

  • Luke says:

    Sam, if you don’t like books, then you don’t like books. I know you’re smart, so that doesn’t change my opinion. I just think it’s a curious statement.

    My family is in the wine business, so it’s one of my passions. Yet, I often here people say, “I don’t like wine.” Really, you don’t like wine? You don’t like the most complex, rich and intricately intertwined food item known to mankind? Because that’s what wine is. It has no parallel in terms of richness and complexity. Now, does that mean you have to like wine? Certainly not. But a blanket statement like “I don’t like wine” smacks of a poorly developed palette and unadventurous spirit. It’s like saying, “I don’t like Shakespeare.” I think it’s more prudent to say “Wine is not my favorite, but I occasionally drink it.” That’s a reasonable statement of someone who has had some exposure and hasn’t really found a wine that pleases them up to this point. But to dismiss it wholesale is a huge red flag.

    Now, if you’re busy and read your ass off, I feel you there. It’s been a while since I picked up a book myself, although I’m (slowly) reading Cobra II now. I also agree most books these days are boring and poorly written. But the book format also has no parallel. The online or even magazine print format does not allow for the sort of depth of exploration that is available in book format. The book has no equal in terms of developing and exploring ideas while synthesizing them into a coherent whole. That partly explains why the publishing industry is growing all while the Internet media content is expanding.

    But hey, you’re right: to each his own. Hater :)

  • Sam Caplan says:

    I think wine sucks too. :)

    “You don’t like the most complex, rich and intricately intertwined food item known to mankind? Because that’s what wine is.”

    Amazing! Your definition for wine matches my definition for Guinness word-for-word!

  • dizzle says:

    Alcohol sucks all together if you ask me.

  • Evan says:

    Nothing beats Sam Adams.

  • Luke says:

    “Alcohol sucks all together if you ask me.”

    We are definitely not.

  • Luke says:

    “Nothing beats Sam Adams.”

    If Sam fights again, that should be his nickname:


  • Luke says:

    “Amazing! Your definition for wine matches my definition for Guinness word-for-word!”

    Sam – tell me you’re not one of those beer enthusiasts who believes beer can be as diverse and intricate as wine? WE’LL HAVE TO FIGHT TO SETTLE IT!!!!

  • Evan says:

    I have never compared the two. I just know I like a nice quality beer. Wine is good but beer is gooder.

  • Sam Caplan says:

    Most beer is intricate and diverse as urine. However, a few rare beers, such as Guinness, are just as intricate and diverse as wine and are also embodied by a soul that wine lacks.

  • Luke says:

    “However, a few rare beers, such as Guinness, are just as intricate and diverse as wine and are also embodied by a soul that wine lacks.”

    Guinness, at it’s best, is a tier two beer. It doesn’t hold a candle to Delerium Tremens or Golden Drach. Until you’ve had beer brewed by Belgium monks on consecrated ground, you haven’t had beer. Bet me.

  • Evan says:

    This thread has turned out nice…hah. Good stuff!

  • Captain says:

    Eh… to each their own. There was a time when I thought Guinness was the shit and and a time when I thought Delirium Tremens was the shit and so and so on. What you fancy changes over time. Now, I still love me a Guinness or a DT every now and then but would rather have a Paulaner lager or a Stella most any day of the week. Though I’ve taken a real liking to Rogue Dead Guy Ale lately and it may be taking over. Point is, drinkwutchyalike, and doowutchyalike.

  • jaydog says:

    Sam. If you don’t like books, then write one that you would like and maybe other book-dislikers would like it. Oh, and, make the book about the psychology of MMA fans; the rise of the UFC, MMA’s renaissance period, etc. You’re welcome to include the statement, “Fighters in a cage are better than words on a page.” Just don’t attribute it to me.

  • Mr. Takedown says:

    WAR this thread. I’m rolling over here.

  • mike wolfe says:

    Red Hook and W.E.B. Griffin.

  • Sam Caplan says:

    Jay, LOL. If I don’t have time to read a book, where will I get time to write one? But I actually have about four books I started writing over the years. Haven’t gotten around to finishing them.


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