By Zach Arnold | February 15, 2013
I normally don’t delve into the world of MMA fiction, but Blake Northcott did a great job with her eBook and her writing career has definitely grown since publication. Our friend Dave Walsh, who has been an MMA writer for many years (and whose work I appreciated for the Total MMA publication), has jumped into the realm of MMA fiction with his new novel called Godslayer.
Fiction really isn’t my cup of tea when it comes to reading books… but Dave did a great job here with Godslayer. Truth is often stranger than fiction and in the case of Godslayer, I kept having flashbacks to past moments of modern MMA history and saying, “I remember that happening with those guys.”
The writing is sharp. The storytelling is fluid. The transitions are smooth. The most important question I have when it comes to reading a genre of book that isn’t my cup of tea is to ask, “Is this an easy read?” Even at 260 pages in length, this book is a very easy read. I read it in full during an afternoon reading session.
Without giving too much of the book away, here’s the general storyline of Godslayer. Alek Turner is a 38-year old retired MMA fighter. He was champion of a league called the United Fight League, whose front-man is named Jeordie Johnson. Jeordie is two parts Dana White, one part Vince McMahon. He’s absurdly over-the-top and, for an outsider to the MMA industry, completely unrealistic. However, every action and quote coming from Jeordie reflects some crazy moment from the past that you’ve seen from Dana or Vince when it comes to dealing with fighters.
Now in retirement and paid a monthly salary to show up at events as an ‘ambassador’ for the UFL, Turner finds out that retirement sucks. He hates dealing with his ex-wife and the drama she puts up by bringing her new man into his life while complaining about Turner not being a good father. There’s definitely an element of Mickey Rourke from The Wrestler here. Turner hates being told what to do by everyone else, including the promotion he’s working for. He was pushed into retirement by the promoter because the fans said he was washed up as a fighter. If you know the life stories of Randy Couture, Matt Hughes, Don Frye, and many other retired MMA fighters then you will recognize that parts of their life stories seem to mesh together here to come up with the Alek Turner character.
(That’s my opinion, but not a 100% declarative factual statement.)
There are also moments where Alek has physical struggles and I was reminded of Gary Goodridge, who recently did an interview with Sherdog that drew a lot of attention online.
Eventually, promoter Jeordie Johnson approaches Alek Turner about coming out of retirement to headline a show in San Jose against an old rival named Jack Miner. My initial take on the way this played out in Godslayer is that this was a feud similar to Ken Shamrock vs. Tito Ortiz. Turner agrees to come out of retirement and take the fight booking so he can fight for a promoter that had pressured him into retirement. A quote from the book about how Jeordie Johnson handles relationships with fighters says it all.
“Bury him!” Jeordie is shouting into a headset back by the production tables, his line feeding into Buckley and Brown’s headsets. “
Fuckingbury him! He is done! He fuckedthe fans!” Veins are bulging out of his forehead as his face is beginning to turn a deeper shade of red, the rage washing over him.
He goes back to the gym to work with his old trainer, Pete, who is characterized as the classic fight trainer — a guy who never could make it on his own as a fighter but knew how to find the next big thing and pocket a lot of money in fees for doing so. The training process wears out Alek and has him reconsidering the way he’s been acting with his ex-wife Sarah and his two children. There’s an internal conflict that plays out as to whether or not he’s becoming a changed man because of his own reflections on his fighting career.
Eventually, the time comes for Turner to have his fight with old rival Jack.
The ending of Godslayer is very clever and believable, as I actually found an incident in MMA’s past that was close to what happened for the Turner/Miner fight.
And that is the beauty of this book. The lines between MMA history and fiction are completely blurred. The actions of the characters are entirely believable for people who are involved in the fight business. I wouldn’t suggest you reading this book if you’re looking for a pick-me-up Anthony Robbins-style motivational kind of deal, but it’s dramatic writing mixed in with the darker side of the MMA sport and the consequences prize fighters often suffer from because of their past actions.
A well-recommended read.