Tapped Out by Matthew Polly

Shawn Proctor
Culture Mob

The pen may be mightier than the sword, but Matthew Polly decided to test whether a writer is tougher than an uppercut in Tapped Out.  That’s a dangerous proposition for a Princeton grad, Rhodes Scholar, and self-labeled mixed martial arts (MMA) geek.

Polly planned to spend a year in preparation before stepping into the ring against his unknown opponent. Luckily, Polly has some fight training. He spent two years learning techniques from Shaolin monks. But that was years and many pounds of fat in his past.

Photo of Matthew Polly

And in MMA, which most people know through the Ultimate Fighting Championship, skilled kicks and punches are only half the battle. Submission and ground fighting add a whole different aspect to the sport. Essentially, the most successful fighters in modern MMA can fight standing or on the ground and anywhere in between.

Where does that leave Polly on the scale between helpless kitten and grizzled combat expert? Somewhere closer to the former, which makes him the everyman trying the thing every man fantasizes about trying.

But Tapped Out is no Rocky story. Look for inspiration elsewhere.

It’s closer to the competition part of Old School, you know when Vince Vaughn is on the rings with a cigarette dangling from his lips. Polly is hilarious as a narrator. He gets beaten, tossed, choked, and twisted like a dishrag on every page, yet maintains a humble sense of humor that is both charming and unique.

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