Retired fighter Mark Tullius Unlocking the Cage

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Back in March, I made the commitment to finally begin Unlocking the Cage, a book/sociological study of the MMA fighter. I knew the project would be a lot of work and without making it official, it would’ve been very easy to stop at the slightest setback. Hell, there’s a good chance I never would have started.

That commitment helped a lot over the past four months. It helped get me through a painful rib injury, my daughter crying she never wanted me to leave, and seven thousand miles on the road. Through lack of sleep and decent food, having little time for my fiction.

I’m thankful I’ve stuck with it because every day I’m reminded why I was drawn to the sport. Being able to show interview clips that can help shatter the perception of what fighters are about wasn’t planned, but something I’m glad to be a part of. In an early post, I wrote the world would be a better place if it were full of fighters. I’m still convinced that is a truth.

It’s time for me to make another commitment though because it turns out that my just telling myself to do something doesn’t work. For the last few weeks I’ve been saying I want to start training seriously, not because I want to fight, but so I won’t get so damn embarrassed when I spend time at all these gyms.

I mentioned this to my wife who was nice enough to remind me of all the reasons I had to not train. Some of them were semi-legitimate and I wanted to agree with her, but that would have been more bullshit. Maybe last week it would’ve been too much to train MMA somewhere, but I had no excuse why I couldn’t do at least 15 minutes a day of something. I have kettlebells, a yoga room, mats, and even a Bas Rutten striking system, but I don’t use them. I don’t do pushups or Hindu squats. Man, I haven’t even been going on walks.

So that all stops now. I’m turning forty on Sunday and figure there is no better time to get my ass in gear. If my dad can be in kick-ass shape at nearly seventy (yes mom, you’re in incredible shape too) then I can’t let my age be a reason. Another big motivator is what my friend, Olivia, recently did. She got rid of her excuses and completely transformed herself in a matter of months. Positive choices will lead to positive results.

The other big reason for the commitment is what happened this week at Kings. It’s the same thing that happened at the other gyms where I jumped in with the pros. I was never a talented fighter. My skill set wasn’t good to start with and now it’s rusty as hell, but I do want to get to a place where I can somewhat hang. I’m not okay being the guy on his back, giving up the arm bar because he’s too tired to get out of the mount. I don’t want to turn and give the choke because I can barely breathe. It’s going to take a while, but if I put in the work I’m guaranteed to be in a much better place than I am now.

Be sure to check out the pics below see that I’ll use as reminders of what inactivity will get me.

Looking on the Bright Side
Former MMA fighter delves into the bright side of mixed martial arts through interviews with fighters around the country

Mark Tullius is an Ivy League graduate, author, and former MMA fighter. After graduating from Brown University, Mark became a body guard and quickly discovered his passion for MMA, even competing in events like Super Brawl and Extreme Challenge. The question he was always asked, but could never answer was, “Why? Why fight?” After eight years away from the cage, Mark is jumping back into the world of fighting with his book/sociological study, Unlocking the Cage, hoping to discover the true identity of MMA fighters and finally answer the question of why he, along with hundreds of other men and women, chose to fight in the first place.

What’s different about Mark’s book? Instead of interviewing a handful of elite fighters, Mark is traveling 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. In the last three months alone, he’s driven 7,000 miles across 14 states to visit 40 gyms, attend 5 fights, and interview 150 fighters. And he’s just getting started. California and the Northwest are next on his list.

Mark is excited about how positively the project has been received and is looking forward to sharing videos that should help to shatter perceptions of MMA fighting. He’s also thrilled by how fighters are responding to his debut novel, Brightside, a thriller where telepaths are rounded up and imprisoned in a small mountain town. If you’ve ever wished you could hear other’s thoughts, you won’t after reading Brightside.

To keep up with Mark’s travel, check out his blog or follow him on Facebook and Twitter. If you’re a fighter that’s interested in being interviewed and would like him to visit your gym, he’d love to hear from you. Interested in reading the final version of Unlocking the Cage? Stay tuned for a future contest from and author Mark Tullius!