Author looking to interview amateur and pro fighters for upcoming MMA book titled Unlocking the Cage.

Why does a fighter fight?

It’s a question that has probably been considered from the first time two warriors squared off with their fists up.

Fighters -- both professional and amateur, male and female -- are being sought to answer this question, in their own words, from their own experiences, for possible inclusion in the forthcoming book, Unlocking the Cage.

Former pro fighter-turned-author Mark Tullius is planning three nationwide tours in the spring and summer to interview fighters for the book, which delves into what motivates someone to step into a steel cage, ready to dish out a healthy dose of punches, kicks, take downs and submissions.

“I’m trying to get at who they are as fighters and people, to find out what makes them get in there and do it,” he said. “We’ll only go as deep as people want, but I hope that people will be honest.”

Tullius, 39, a Brown University grad, began fighting in the dark ages of the sport -- back when it was known as No Holds Barred -- and trained with such MMA superstars as Bas Rutten, Marco Ruas, and Frank Mir. Tullius, who went 3-5 as a heavyweight, journeyed to Mexico and Hawaii to fight, and even fought in a warehouse in California, where Tito Ortiz and Ricco Rodriguez were also on the card.

Now a professional writer and a father, Tullius often has looked back on his days as a fighter and wondered what made him step into the cage, “because it’s not something that normal people do,” he said. “Stepping into a cage and risking bodily harm for little or no money, that’s a serious risk.”

Fighters will be asked to fill out a survey and may also be interviewed. The interviews will be taped and some will be shown on Tullius’ blog at marktullius.com. Interviewed fighters may also submit a highlight reel that can be used on the blog and e-book. In addition, on each of Tullius’ three regional trips to conduct interviews, he will be giving away one Body Action System Deluxe by Bas Rutten, a kickboxing workout system. A fourth BAS will be given away to a randomly-selected fighter who has completed the written survey.

Those who are interested can contact Tullius at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , and tell him how you would like to be included: written survey, filmed one-on-one interview, or a phone interview, and/or if Tullius can visit your academy to train and conduct interviews.

Tullius will kick off his cross-country tour with a booth at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books on April 21 and 22 at the University of Southern California. Besides signing copies of his thriller, Brightside, Tullius will be talking with fans and signing up fighters for Unlocking the Cage interviews.

Also, Tullius is interested in hearing if anyone knows of any former fighters whose careers were cut short by a fight-related injury. A portion of the proceeds from Unlocking the Cage will benefit the two fighters who receive the highest number of votes from participants. “There’s no way of knowing how much of a difference we can make in their lives, but I’d like to try,” Tullius said.

Tullius said he hopes the book will serve as a sociological study to help educate those unfamiliar or ill-informed on mixed martial arts, but just as important, he sees the book as a journey for himself, and those he will interview. “I’d like it to be viewed as a real look inside the fighter,” he said. “I’m not sure what I’m going to find out, that’s why I’m excited to get started.”

To watch a Youtube video on Tullius’ project, click here. And to connect with Tullius, log on to his blog, facebook and twitter.

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