Doug Merlino is a veteran journalist who has written for Wired, Men’s Journal, Legal Affairs, and many other publications. He is author of The Hustle. His latest book, Beast: Blood, Struggle, and Dreams at the Heart of Mixed Martial Arts (Bloomsbury USA) brings us a blunt examination of the history, culture, business, and meaning of professional cage fighting. Mixed martial arts is the fastest-growing sport in America; all over the country new gyms are popping up and new viewers are tuning in to UFC matches. Although some dismiss it as brutal combat, its fighters are among the most dedicated athletes in any arena. But MMA also takes a heavy toll on the body, and it’s a rare fighter who can earn a living in the sport’s top ranks. Beast follows four high-level fighters at the gym American Top Team in Coconut Creek, Florida. Author Doug Merlino had unprecedented access, training alongside the men for two years, traveling to their matches, and eating in their homes. Beast is a book for both the uninitiated and the hard-core fan, a fascinating journey into an often misunderstood world.