Would Mill have supported UFC 140 in NYC?

December 11, 2011

Political Theory


After watching last nights highly-advertised UFC 140 sporting event between fighters Jon Jones and Lyoto Machida, it occurred to me that mixed martial arts (MMA) fights have now been cemented in the sporting world as mainstream sporting events. Jones the highly favored fighter prevailed with a suffocating win in the second round. Over the past several years, the Ultimate Fighting Championship has become one of the most popular sporting companies in the world. Perhaps the biggest controversy currently surrounding both the UFC and other MMA (mixed martial arts) companies, is the legalization of mixed martial arts in the state of New York. The Jones-Machida fight, like many MMA events, took place in Toronto, Canada although an attempt was made to place it in a highly populated location such as New York City. MMA is currently legalized in 42 states, but New York is considered to have one of the largest fan bases of MMA in the country. The sports pure nature of violence and potential to cause serious injury is the reason the legalization is a highly debated subject.

I found the relationship between the text we read earlier in the year, “On Liberty,” by John Mill and MMA to be fascinating. In this text, Mill discuss a concept known as the “harm principle.” Mill’s explains that this principle declaring that “each individual has the right to act as he wants, so long as these actions don’t harm others.” Mill implies and one can deduce that this principle adds that as long as the action is only against the individual, society has no reason to intervene. Mill felt that doing harm to another individual creates issues for the community as well as the wronged party. So the question must be raises, “would Mill be for or against allowing MMA sporting events in the state of New York?”

The main argument in favor of MMA regulation is that the events themselves are strictly monitored, regulated my an official and organized with specific guidelines. The fight only occurs in an octagon (ring) and no violence carries on after the fight. These fighters are among the most professional in sports and the referees officiating them are highly trained. Interestingly, after each fight the two fighters great each other and exchange warm words at the center of the ring displaying the utmost of class.  The fighters understand that when they enter the ring, they are putting themselves at risk for a payday and anything potentially can happen. Unfortunately, horrific occurrences do arise. In 2007, Michael Kirkham, a young professional fighter died resulting from the injuries of a state-sanctioned fight in South Carolina.

Despite the obvious risks, MMA and more specifically UFC have had positive impacts on our society. The revenue created from major events greatly helps the economy of the cities in which they occur. Las Vegas, the most popular UFC location, has seen a major increase in revenue all throughout the city during weekends of major UFC fights. If UFC was brought to the city of New York, the city would prosper financially and, perhaps temporarily create jobs. I believe these positive aspects would outweigh any potential injuries that can occur during a event. I believe that although Mill was a strong advocate of the “harm principle”, he would be certainly in favor legalizing MMA in the state of New York.

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3 Comments on “Would Mill have supported UFC 140 in NYC?”

  1. eaaldrid6409 Says:

    I don’t think Mill would support legalizing MMA in the state of New York. The “harm principle” argues for freedom of action as long as no other person is harmed, not that it’s okay to harm others as long as someone is profiting or prospering from the action. Furthermore, how humane is it to say that it’s okay for someone to be seriously, or even fatally, injured in such an event because the positive aspects of the event—such as tourism and the increased income associated with it—outweigh the negative ones. How much money would it take to allow someone to harm or kill a member of your family or a close friend? Somehow, I don’t think the “positive” aspects of these events are actually positive for everyone.
    Where I understand mixed martial arts is becoming a popular mainstream sporting event, I don’t think it’s fair to criticize the state of New York for not allowing possible blood to stain their hands.

  2. bpkass Says:

    I understand you believe that the economic aspects do not out weight the dangers of the sport itself, but do keep in mind this fighters are entering the ring more than voluntary to make a living. The financial rewards given to the participants can be very large in sum. I strongly if all the athletes were asked if they ever felt unsafe or undervalued in the octagon, I believe they would certainly declare that they feel protected and have a strong desire to continue fighting.

  3. rschles92 Says:

    I don’t think the harm in the sport itself is what matters. These guys are athletes who engage in these matches willingly and in order to make a living. They are trained and qualified to be doing what they are doing and the gruesome unusual events are not enough to prevent them from participating.
    However, it is the affect the glorification of the sport has on society that is more important. Fighting has been a part of New York sports culture forever. Ali-Frazier just makes sense in Madison Square Garden. Kids back in boxing’s heyday looked up to these warriors and wanted to emulate them. This was looked at as a good thing because it was mostly kids from bad parts of town that used boxing as a tool to stay out of trouble.
    MMA does not hit home with the same demographic. MMA is popular with kids who live in households that can afford to watch expensive fights. Kid who do not need an outlet and watch MMA because much like everyone else in America obsessed with violence, they want to see someone get their head bashed in.
    Here’s where trouble could arise. When you go shoot hoops in the back yard you count down from 10 and try to shoot a buzzer beater like Michael Jordan. You toss the football around with your friends trying to be like Peyton Manning. What happens when some kids are hanging in a friend’s basement and one of them wants to do their best Rampage Jackson imitation and power bomb another kid into the floor?

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