BJ Penn's new book seems to illuminate the art of MMA as no book before has managed, into a COHESIVE fighting system (a la
boxing) where movements blend into each other rather than being a collection of techniques. It is "MMA", rather than "Brazilian Jiujitsu" + "Freestyle Wrestling" + "Muay Thai" as three separate disciplines mashed together. It appears that the same publishers will be releasing other books by Couture and possibly even Fedor Emelianenko....another step forward in seeing how well-rounded fighters are training. Compared to the "Fighter's Notebook" of a decade ago, it's night and day.
Does this represent the coming-of-age of the sport? I tend to think that it does. MMA competitors a few years in the future will not need to iron out the bugs in blended styles, because those styles will have been effectively amalgamated into a complete whole. Competitors may not need separate boxing coaches, thai boxing coaches, BJJ coaches, and wrestling coaches (at least, no more than boxers require separate punch, block, evasion, and footwork coaches).
As I said before, these are heady days. They may be remembered as the first "golden age" of MMA, where everything finally came together. If everything works out as expected, this era will be remembered as the time that brought us a unified MMA champion, a mainstream audience, and a "modern" MMA style. Martial arts have advanced more in the past ten years than in the preceding hundred, and we may finally be nearing the final stages of that evolution.
I wonder, in a few decades, whether MMA fans will watch Coleman and Sakuraba with the same attitude that modern boxing fans show toward Johnson and Corbett.