I didn’t have much of an idea of what I was doing, which is why two photos exist of me holding a shot of tequila on April 28, 2000.

Twenty years later I like to think of this as the moment I realized that being around mixed martial arts meant chronicling a world people truly cared about.

Doing so in a meaningful way required observation from the sidelines rather than joining the crowd even at the happiest of times. And unforeseen as it was, this is how I ended up as the only person who didn’t have a drink that day.

I was attending classes at San Diego State University and searched for an interesting piece of government to document for a political science course. After becoming a fan of no-holds-barred competition and attending local fight cards, I learned of the movement to legalize cage fighting in the state. So in 1999, I monitored athletic commission meetings, and this is where I discovered a group of dedicated advocates who welcomed me into…

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