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Wednesday, August 16, 2017

3 Reasons Why Libertarians Should Love MMA

If two individuals agree to fight in an octagon for money, more power to them!


With the decade-defining boxing bout between Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor in just a few short weeks, combat sports and especially Mixed Martial Arts (where Conor McGregor earned his championship belts) is gaining more and more popularity. At first glance, it would seem that two individuals clobbering each other isn’t particularly in line with the liberal tradition or the philosophy of libertarianism, but upon further study, perhaps Lady Liberty has quite the roundhouse kick after all.

  1. It’s Voluntary

The first and most important observation to make when examining the free market elements of prizefighting is that it is voluntary. To compete, both sides must agree on payment, weight class, glove size, promotion, and a host of other things. This necessary part of combat sports is also one of the pillars of liberalism and the philosophy of freedom.

If two individuals agree to fight in an octagon for money, all power to them!

One should be free to make any choice, to his benefit or detriment, as long as that choice does not inhibit the freedom of others. Therefore, if two individuals agree to fight in an octagon for money, all power to them!

In fact, such a contract is a beautiful example of the essence of transactions. One prizefighter alone will make no money. One fighter in a ring is just a badly choreographed dance. He needs at least one challenger, one partner, and upon securing this partner they then begin to create value and benefit from each other enormously. Both fighters will get the opportunity to test their martial skills, a chance to further their brands, and both get paid – all made possible by the contract and transaction.

  1. A Harmony of Traditions

Mixed martial arts is unique to all combat sports in that it is about as close to pure fighting as possible (with the exception of gloves and a few gentleman’s rules). This should pique the interest of the liberal mind.

The fighter himself is a champion of global free trade.

MMA is a spectacular display of spontaneous order. This art of “problem solving with dire consequences” is really an extremely diverse blend of martial arts from different cultures, traditions, religions, and ideas on how best to defeat an opponent. The average MMA fighter must be well versed in (at least) Muay Thai, Boxing, Brazilian Jiu jitsu, Wrestling, Judo, Tae Kwon Do, and a number of other martial arts if he hopes to ever become the champion.

Without globalism and the trade of ideas through mutual exchange for mutual benefit these martial arts would never have met each other, much less reach harmony in a single fighter. The fighter himself is a champion of global free trade.

  1. Order vs. Chaos

The spontaneous order of the octagon is especially clear when contrasted with real violence. After the bell rings, the fighters return to their corners without throwing any chairs or cheapshots. After the fight, competitors are usually very sportsmanlike and can be seen showing the martial respect of bows and handshakes immediately after every fight.

No one forces them to shake hands, the respect is mutual and organic. It is a heartwarming thing to see two people, who may be very different, may disagree on many things, perhaps don’t even speak the same language, and not a minute ago were trying to knock each other out, show respect to each other.

Now contrast this spectacle with that of war, which is true chaos.

Now contrast this spectacle with that of war, which is true chaos. It is founded on ignorance and hatred of the other. Nor is it beautiful or really based on skill in any way. But most importantly, the liberal should denounce war because war is not an agreement, it is coercive force. Unlike the free society, war does not respect the dignity of the human person but sees humans as pawns to be used rather than as spectacular specimens of skill, discipline, and focus. War can only destroy. It is beneficial to no one except government bureaus.

Mixed Martial Arts and the free market welcomes competition. Truly, competition drives both MMA and other free markets to ever higher standards. Differences of opinion and styles are just as crucial in fight preparation as they are on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. And the merit of the abilities of the individual is what shines through in both.

Mixed martial arts is a celebration of voluntarism and humanity itself. It is a mechanism of truth, a beacon of real sportsmanship, and a beautiful example of spontaneous order.


  • Noah Zimmerman currently studies Finance and Philosophy at the Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ohio.