Unlocking the Cage PDF


The cage door clangs shut. The lock slides into place. The voice in my head drowns out everything else. What the hell is wrong with me?


Follow the journey of Mark Tullius, former cage fighter and boxer turned author and stay-at-home dad as he puts his love of fighting and his sociology degree to use. What began as a personal exploration to unlock his reasons for continuing to train and pursue a fight career evolved into an in-depth sociological study of why competing in mixed martial arts (MMA) appeals to fighters. Why do these men and women subject themselves to the endless hours of grueling training required for the full-contact sport? In MMA a fighter's goal is to punch, kick, and choke an opponent into submission, and if there is blood and injury along the way, so be it. What compels these individuals to develop the necessary strength, endurance, discipline, and skill despite the risks involved?


What’s different about Mark’s book?


Instead of interviewing a handful of elite fighters, Mark traveled to every corner of the country, looking to train at different gyms and find fighters interested in showing the world who they are and why they fight. He finished the project after visiting 100 gyms and interviewing 340 fighters.


Although it wasn't necessary, Tullius trained with the fighters and soon came to realize how valuable that time was, cultivating mental strength by surrounding himself with positive and inspiring individuals. It encouraged him to continue his project when he still had doubts about seeing it to its completion. Finally, Tullius believed that his willingness to get on the mat and demonstrate his trust in the fighters encouraged them to trust him and open up to a stranger about their fears and mistakes, dreams and accomplishments.


Unlocking the Cage takes readers into the gyms and into the minds of the fighters. It celebrates the unique qualities of each individual while highlighting themes that appear and reappear. It looks past the stigma of violence and embraces the resilience and strength that are the foundation of the fighting culture.


Editorial Reviews

"Still, it's a work that should be on the reading list of any MMA fan. A sometimes-engaging but scattershot book that's part memoir, part journalism,and part inspirational self-help." -- Kirkus Review


"UNLOCKING THE CAGE offers a fast-paced, enjoyable ride through the surprisingly poignant and peaceful word of mixed martial arts and boxing gyms." – IndieReader

The result is a surprisingly revealing read recommended not just for enthusiasts of boxing, fighting, and MMA in particular, but especially for outsiders who abhor the idea of such a sport without really understanding its players. This audience will find their eyes opened about many things, including evolving values and maturity processes in life, and will discover Unlocking the Cage also unlocks preconceived notions about a little-understood sport. -- Diane Donavan, Editor Donovan’s Bookshelf


Have you ever considered what it would be like to punch or be punched, to choke or be choked? Or wondered why anyone would enter the cage at all? Get your copy of Unlocking the Cage and prepare to be intrigued by what you find.