Fighting as Work: Cages as Workplaces

(Warning: This article describes scenes and instances of legal violence and sexual language that is broadcast by mass media in multiple countries.  We recommend that you wait at least until you are 18-years-old before reading this article.)


Mixed Martial Arts (MMA): Is it a sport or a multi-billion dollar industry lacking professional levels of sportsmanship?

From ancient history to the 21st century history of martial arts, a development of hand-to-hand combat has reached certain peaks, in the world of MMA.  The frequency of fighters is greater and bouts have become more intense with more enthusiastic and wider audiences.

Developments include strategies for fighters to change their approaches in combat with their opponents, which are communicated to them by their coaches before, during and between rounds.  Techniques and combinations for striking with fists, palms, fingers, elbows, feet, shoulders and knees have developed with greater frequencies in populaces.  Close combat grappling for strangling, manipulating elbow, shoulder, jaw, ankle, neck, spine and knee joints of opponents have also developed greatly over the last decades, leading to more people who are more dangerous than ever.

The most popular MMA firm became a multi-billion dollar business during the last decade and is called the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC).  UFC, ONE Championship and Bellator are three of the largest employers of athletes for MMA.

With the rise of the industry of MMA comes the glorification of extreme violence in the workplace, namely, the cage fighting arena.  Bouts are very specialized and involve one-on-one combat situations without weapons in competitive caged fights, consisting of three people, the two opponents and the referee.  The mixing of kinds in this industry focuses on various styles of hand-to-hand combative martial arts, boxing, kickboxing, wrestling, Jujitsu, Brazilian jiu jitsu, Judo, Karate, Taekwondo, Sambo, Muay Thai, Kung Fu, Sumo etc.  They are international and tactical.

Some rules have been applied and have reduced risks of deaths and injuries over the decades.  However, many unnecessary risks and manipulations of fighters, for example, to agree to accept fights at short notices, persist.  The latter factor is important because it gives the corporation greater control over the winning odds if they have a chosen fighter, and it gives a great advantage over the betting odds.  The corporations can also favor an opponent via selecting the parts of the fight for replay that make their chosen fighter appear superior to the other, even if the fighter is not superior for most of the match.  So, one fighter, as their favorite employee, is chosen in the event that the fight ends via a decision being made by judges, which is one reason why judges are often not fighters.  Fighters have a great distaste for such political decisions.  For example, a championship match between two women in Monterrey, Mexico very recently ended with a political decision for the surprising winner, and the organization had already decided not to show any replays of the second round during which the winner’s opponent completely dominated with dozens of unanswered punches, causing the decided winner’s face much inflammation and bruising.  The win was actually surprising for both fighters because of the display of favoritism, which is one aspect of corporate fighting as work that greatly undermines the integrity of the entire industry.

The rise in popularity of cage fighting is undeniable.  In 2021, cage fighting is a multi-billion dollar industry and has surpassed many team sports during the COVID-19 pandemic.  Around the planet, thousands of cage fighting events are held yearly.  Many of them have tens of thousands of spectators.  Tens of millions of views of bouts occur yearly around the globe.

Ultimately, the cage is the focal point of the panopticon¹ in the arena where the workday culminates after extensive training.  Two opponents are observed from as many angles as are practical for displaying their martial violence and for media-driven entertainment.  Some forms of martial violence are highly coordinated and exotic.  The 2021 champion of the middle weight division, Israel Adesanya, demonstrates many of these characteristics.

Cage fighting in Guadalajara, Mexico

MMA and the traditional martial art of judo: a comparison

With the legal rules applied in MMA caged fights, winning via punching, elbowing, kneeing and kicking the other competitors into unconsciousness is a way to be promoted in MMA.  Strangling someone until he or she is unconscious or until the referee stops the fight is another way to win and be promoted to a higher salary.  Moreover, breaking competitors’ limbs and bones or stopping short of fracturing an opponent’s limb when the referee ends the match is another way to win and be promoted.

Through the ways of winning, being promoted and entertaining fans, the business models typically encourage extra violence and harmful damage until immediately after a referee ends the match.  In fact, many competitors express that their intentions are to psychologically break their opponents and their fighting spirit, to physically break their bones, to strangle them to death and to knock them out quickly and in spectacular fashions.  They express verbally and in writing that they have ill wills towards their competitors they face.  Before some fights, they claim they will maim, kill and disfigure their opponents and their faces.  Moreover, the more spectacular the expressions of their ill wills are toward their opponents, the larger the increase in sales for the company ordinarily.  So, corporate MMA is encouraging certain types of bad sportsmanship for the purpose of increasing profits.

Typically in real fights in the streets or bars, however, crippling, disfiguring or injuring an opponent can lead to future-oriented revengeful behaviors by those same opponents but with weapons and the element of surprise.  So, these are, by and large, behaviors to avoid doing during real fights.

It is relevant and worthwhile to discuss the traditional martial arts for a comparison, such as comparing the ways of judo competitions to MMA competitions.

In judo, the goal in the matches is to subdue the opponent by using as little energy as possible and to win by throwing the competitor, strangling the competitor, pinning the opponent for twenty seconds in certain positions, or securing an arm-lock until he or she gives up or the referee stops the bout.  “Judo” means “gentle way,” which is understandable to practitioners, but to laypeople, judo appears to be quite brutal.

The controlled throw with power, velocity and placement of the opponent on his or her back wins the match automatically in judo.  The combat philosophy of judo is applicable to situations in which the judoka (judo practitioner) and his or her opponent are in an area of rough terrain or atop a building or a mountain, in which cases throwing the opponent in a controlled manner with power and good placement is ideal because the opponent, in a wartime scenario or life and death encounter, would be thrown to his or her death.

The idea is that an opponent being choked could still drag the choker off the mountain.  The same is the case for the arm-breaker.  So, the throw is the ideal focus in certain hand-to-hand combat situations.

Although judo requires much explosive strength, great balance, strong grips, speed, agility and complicated techniques, the judoka, especially ones with more experience and higher levels of fitness, attempt to subdue practice partners and opponents by using the least amount of energy to fulfill the win.  Practices are generally very disciplined.  Judo practitioners are required to formally dress in a traditional judogi, which has a thick, durable top, pants and a belt.  Judoka are disciplined and have the formal habit of displaying respect to the dojo (the practice place) and to each opponent.

Although there are multiple techniques in judo that could allow a cage fighter to win a MMA bout, judo presents others ways to win that could also be effective and preferable in certain combat situations.  For example, if the combat situation requires twenty or thirty seconds for a comrade to arrive, and the enemy combatant has useful information, it is preferable to dominate and pin the opponent until assistance can be used.  In judo, a twenty second secured pin of the opponent on his or her back wins the match.

Cage fights teach that it is good to win by injuring the opponent via legal strikes or joint manipulations before the stoppage of the bout.  For example, it is good for promotion.  Cage fights teach that success involves increases in entertainment, and it is entertaining for the MMA audiences to witness fighters being knocked unconscious by life and career-changing strikes to the head, arms and legs.  The entertainment aspect of MMA involves fighters strangling opponents until their bodies become limp and they fall unconscious to the floor of the cage.  For example, consider the end of the championship fight² between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Justin Gaethje for the 2020 UFC championship match.  Moreover, the entertainment aspect of MMA involves people watching men and women having their arms and legs broken and displayed on live television.

What is the most secure way to survive in a real fight to the death?

In judo, there are mats for making a large square-shaped zone, and the outer perimeter is red and is called the “danger zone.”  To win, sometimes the judoka stands in the danger zone and throws the opponent with control and high velocity, slamming the opponent flat on his or her back beyond the danger zone.

From the philosophy of judo, the idea of winning a real fight in that type of combat situation, such as near a cliff where the most dangerous area is closest to the edge, often involves a well placed throw.  On the combat zone of the cliff, the most secure way of winning a fight is to perform a perfect throw, tossing the enemy to his or her death immediately after the fall.

Strangling an enemy to death and breaking his or her limbs appear to be worthwhile ways of securing one’s own survival during a fight.  However, if you are near the edge of the cliff or on top of a building, you could strangle your enemy to death or break his or her arms but also die after your opponent successfully pulls both of you off the edge.

To practice the cliff-like combat situation in judo, each match begins from a standing position after one opponent under the attack pulls the other opponent beyond the danger zone.  Judo begin anew once the competitors are out of bounds.  This enables judoka to practice their martial art and reduce risks of injury and death by combat on cliffs, mountains, buildings and near rough terrain.  As a martial art used in the MMA industry, one of its greatest representatives is the Judo Olympian Rhonda Rousey who is a former dominant UFC champion.

Cage fighting for prizes typically uses a mixture of several martial arts by both opponents.  However, highly skilled professionals of a single martial art have strong chances of winning spectacularly.

Photo opportunities, face-to-face stare-downs and offensive language used by MMA competitors against each other are encouraged to the extent that their actions (misbehavior in many circumstances) contribute to entertainment to their audiences.

In comparison to judo, cage fighting lacks the amount and the intensity and habits of displaying respect for both the combat area and the opponent.  So, good sportsmanship is often lacking and is significantly lower among prize fighters than within traditional martial arts.  Moreover, audiences of MMA often boo and hiss some competitors and wildly celebrate their preferred ones, lacking the respect that is typically demanded within the traditional martial arts.  Also, in judo, competitions involve facing several one-on-one matches, lasting anywhere from a few seconds to five minutes per match.  Furthermore, judoka need to compete against several opponents during the competition, which is typically held during a single day, whereas a MMA competitor only fights one person on one day.

A dojo for learning judo and other martial arts is a place where children can observe and learn, which is typically allowed by the sensei who teaches.  An MMA gym is less likely to have many decades of traditions, habits and etiquette in the competitions and practice areas as judo is.  Misbehavior is not permissible and does not benefit the judoka because it is disrespectful to the dojo and to the opponent.


What is the impact on societies?

The prize fighting business requires disciplined combinations of expensive nutrition and rehabilitation programs with nutritionists, chiropractors, massage therapists and medical professionals.  In the USA, these services are also tailored to individuals as athletes.  Unfortunately, this happens in a medical system with expenses that are largely dependent directly on the employment statuses of the U.S. work force, unlike other countries.  The healthcare of children is largely based on the employment status of their parents.

By creating such an industry that increases the overall amount of injuries per employee, medical professionals shift their own employment to jobs interconnected with MMA.  Consequently, the costs of medical care for others outside of the industry have a tendency to rise. In the USA, these phenomena are occurring with around 20 million debtors³ who hold almost $50 billion of debt largely from medical expenses.⁴

MMA employs medical doctors who would otherwise serve different purposes than fixing some of the damages caused by planned prize fights.  One fighter talks openly about his final professional MMA bout.   Ramsey Dewey⁵ claims:

“My last fight almost killed me. I got a compound skull fracture….My skull got caved in, blinded in one eye. I was throwing up blood and almost bled to death through my mouth that night, and it’s left me with a lot of serious issues.”

A few MMA fights have resulted in deaths of combatants.  In some cases, competitors are beaten to death in public by people who paid to watch them.  One fighter lost his life two days after being punched in the head 41 times in a MMA bout.  Louise Roseingrave⁶ wrote in 2018 in the Independent about the death of MMA fighter Joao Carvalho in Ireland two days after his last fight:

“The cause of death was acute subdural hemorrhage due to blunt force trauma to the head, with aspiration of gastric contents as a contributory factor. The jury returned a verdict of misadventure and recommended the endorsement of a national governing body for MMA in Ireland.”

Just via the sheer amount of money, technologies and facilities, a multitude of employees have been granted legal access to provide services to MMA athletes.  Professional photographers, videographers, data analysts, sound engineers, police, private security guards, event organizers and many other types of professionals have shifted their work to support this industry.

MMA athletes are allowed by law to enter cages and damage almost every part of bodies of opponents, and in ways similar to fighters of pankration in the ancient Greek Olympics of 648 BCE, which continued for centuries.

Some of the famous MMA champions have committed crimes, such as assault and battery, vandalism, hit and runs, and other felonies.  Other MMA competitors have committed murders.  Some of these crimes have been captured on video by surveillance cameras and police.  For some recent famous cases, the legal punishment for breaking the law for felony offenses is either negotiating a plea deal or receiving the minimum penalty, which shows favoritism in courts of law toward MMA athletes.⁷  In MMA, more violence is displayed by people who are looked at as being role models, which is troublesome for youth to observe and to influence their future decisions because they desire similar lifestyles.

The United States Federal Communication Commissioner, Michael J. Copps (Lipschultz, 2008, 242; Brant, 2019, 62) claims:

“It is time for us to step up to the plate and tackle the issue of violence in the media. The U.S. Surgeon General, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Psychological Association, the American Medical Association, and countless other medical and scientific organizations that have studied this issue have reached the same conclusion: exposure to graphic and excessive media violence has harmful effects on the physical and mental health of our children.”

MMA serves as an example of excessive media violence, especially when live video footage of illegal violence is broadcast, which often occurs sporadically before and after MMA bouts.

For clients and audiences, MMA businesses focus their public relations only on the winners of prize fights, their impulsive and lavish spending habits and the sharing of their thoughts with the general public.

Audiences are misled via an overabundance of information about winners in MMA and an underrepresentation of media coverage about the often worsened lives of losers of many MMA bouts.  Hundreds and hundreds of articles are published weekly by unknown authors, such as MMA Fighting Newswire.  MMA Fighting Newswire refrains from giving authors’ names in their published articles.  It is likely that such articles are computer generated.  The articles contain many quotes and much video and audio footage with simple phrases about MMA content.  

Only the unsuccessful competitors of the major prize fights are allowed to speak in front of large audiences, but they have already been successful winners before they can reach the level of such high-paid prize fights.  The so-called MMA journalism tends to focus on events and circumstances that the industry itself deem to be profitable for the industry.  So, regarding corporate business tactics, prize fighters with greater percentages of losses on their records are ignored or covered up by public relations (PR) employees posing as journalists.

However, the cage fighting losers of bouts are employees under contract that have the deepest, darkest and most telling histories, hypothetically.  To understand the enormous and rapidly growing 21st century industry of MMA, we must question the bruised and abused but expect that the PR Departments’ smoke and mirror journalism and smear tactics will hide their voices or distract audiences again and again.

The rise in the Public Relations Departments, the rise in employment of police and private security and the rises in health and medical care workers for the purpose of perpetuating prize fighting in cages is a direct consequence of making workers as fighters and workplaces as cages and cage fighting arenas.

In American history, this type of fighting is not new, but it has taken relatively different forms for the process of legalization of fighting as work.  However, the invention of the public relations journalism coming from employees of the very same industry is new in relation to fighting bouts.

There were fights that took place on plantations in the South in states, like Alabama, and placed slaves of one master against the slaves of another slave master.  Consider what one former slave said to the Works Progress Administration in Texas about entertainment-based fighting between slaves of different owners, in the late 1930s.

John Finnely, who was born a slave to Martin Finnely in Jackson County, Alabama, gives an account of slave owners fighting their slaves against other owners’ slaves on the third page of his interview with the Works Progress Administration of Texas. At 86 years old, John Finnely says (Works Progress Administration, 1941, 37):

The black men fights are more for the white folks’ enjoyment, but the slaves are allowed to see it. The masters’ plantations match there black men according to size and bet on them. Master Finnely has one slave that weighs about 150 pounds, and he’s a powerful and good fighter, and he likes to fight. No one lasts long with him. The fights are held at night by the pine torch light. A ring is made by the folks standing around in the circle. They are allowed to do anything with their hands and head and teeth. Nothing is barred, except the knife and the club. Those two black men get in the ring, and Tom starts quickly, and the new black man starts just as quickly. That surprises Tom and when they come together, it is like two bulls. Kersmash! It sounds like that. Then it is a hit and kick and bite and headbutt anywhere and any place to best the other. The one on the bottom bites the knees or anything he can do. That is the way it goes for half the hour (transliteration without vulgarities in Works Progress Administration, 1941, 37).

From the latter sorts of accounts and artistic portrayals of fights between slaves, we see that, despite being slaves, they also participate as audience members watching fights between other slaves.  Some of the slaves perhaps preferred to fight more than to continuously work in the fields.

Because there is a direct connection between low-status members in the society, labor and fighting as work, it is wise to question whether the rise in fighting as work in MMA is a consequence of societies’ inabilities to form meaningful types of work.  It is questionable whether the popularity of MMA and increasing employment in MMA is a result of the society lacking the types of work with good enough compensation for people to live their own fulfilling lifestyles.

Does the rise in MMA suggest that types of jobs that create products and services that are good and meaningful for society, communities and families are leaving us?  Does the frequency of MMA in the society directly suggest an increase in bloodthirstiness as entertainment?  What are the impacts on workplaces of prize fighting, regarding safety, efficiency and fairness at work?

In one type of workplace, the cage fighting arena and media work spaces before main events, workers are expected to tolerate the worst forms of sexual harassment, stares of hatred, fear, anger and disgust.  Short bursts of violence erupt before fights oftentimes.  For example, Masvidal punches another competitor, Leon Edwards, after Masvidal wins against another opponent.⁸  Little or no compensation is made for these unofficial bouts before and after the official matches close the exit to the 6’ high cages.

Some MMA teams act like mafia henchmen and reactionaries that are ready to injure team members of opponents.  Other teams at least temporarily act as loyal teammates with good sportsmanship.  For example, consider the attack of the bus of Khabib Nurmagamedov before his championship fight with Connor McGregor.⁹

Consider the level of sportsmanship in each of the industries.  This is crucial for children who will one day be the professionals in the work force.  MMA broadcasts to millions each year and leads to an entire generation of youth having extreme violence and criminality as their very first experiences of sport that they will remember throughout adulthood.  The destruction and vandalism and violent injuries before the Nurmagamedov v. McGregor fight and the violent brawl directly afterwards is an extremely memorable set of events for an entire generation of youth who saw it in 2018. 

Crime, vulgarities and violence, sport and violence, and illegal fighting and violence describe the sequence of those events that occurred before, during and after the latter championship fight between Nurmagamedov and McGregor.  The result of their successful gains in wealth will almost certainly scar the memories of sporting events for a significant portion of youth around the world who witness criminal misbehavior and great rewards for the perpetrators.

This will disfigure the conception of sport for many people who witness the consequences for the athletes.  The athletes expended almost no time in jail and court, and they profited from the events financially.


International Impact: Rising ultra-nationalism

The rise of ultra-nationalism is also apparent by the popularization of MMA and the promotion of champions’ countries.  There is encouragement for the athletes to display their own national flags in many manners.  However, there is no ceremony given for the flags partially because the matches are one-on-one.  Some competitors have dual citizenship and display two flags (e.g., USA and Mexico).

Through mass broadcasting in 1990, people around the world witnessed the aftermath of the World Championships in basketball, which culminated in the mistreatment of a single flag.  The poor treatment of the flag was used to fuel great amounts of violence.  This happened when a Croatian national flag was dropped on the ground by a Serbian player, Vlade Divac.  For instance, the image of this now NBA Hall of Fame basketball player’s treatment of the flag was used to increase hostility in the Croatian part of Yugoslavia against the Serbs and against the Soviet-influenced and united government of Yugoslavia.  Croatia sought to secede from the Yugoslavian union and form it’s own nation, which they did and which was expedited with frequent broadcasts of the treatment of the flag by a large Serbian man.  War ensued for national territory.

Therefore, there are great risks to the ultra-nationalistic ways in which MMA displays its athletes as representing entire political economies.

Risks to individuals: Causing movements or generating force against any external object to your own body requires that both ends of each skeletal muscle are attached to the bone via connective tissues. In many cases, MMA audiences have witnessed torn muscles, tendons, ligaments, broken bones from heads to toes, and concussions. Audiences are beginning to watch the MMA medical communities piece athletes back together via advances in rehabilitation therapies. However, there should be no doubt that the lengthy time that an athlete spends doing prize fighting and high intensity practices shorten their lifespans and lower the quality of their lives since they undergo damage.

Exercise lengthens lifespans. Health can never be separated entirely from strength. The reasons for this is that the whole process necessary for movement, and even for thought, is dependent on a single muscle, your heart. Nonetheless, fighters experience blood-sickening one-on-one battles and especially place their eyes and brains at great risks.

Risks to families: Of course, all of the mentioned risks to the individual have long and lasting impacts on the family.  Many of the athletes are breadwinners for their families.  The family also suffers greatly at times from the harsh conditions of employment contracts as well as injuries, layoffs and irreparable damage to the athletes, psychologically and physically.

Individuals sacrifice the length of their life spans as well as the health of their bodies, and this has negative consequences oftentimes on the family.  For example, trauma to the head of MMA and other athletes is especially terrifying for families and communities to cope with.

Risks to societies: The society, like others, is more or less sane or insane based upon how much violence, destruction, self-destruction (suicide, self-mutilation) and encouragement and incentives for engaging in violence. With rising amounts of violence from mass shootings and homicides, the level of U.S. violence has exceeded what the level of violence in Mexico was at the turn of the century. Despite this, Americans still compare our society’s level of violence to Mexico’s. U.S. violence is not comparable to Mexico’s because the type of violence is very different, though.

In Mexico, we can see the fear-instilling tactics of narcos, drug lords that have eyes of cold-blooded murderers. In the USA, the violence, including about 300 mass shootings during the first half of 2021, comes from unexpected people who often commit acts of extreme violence for the first time. Many are copycat killers who attempt to copy and outdo the intensity of violence of the last mass murderers who gained infamy from the U.S. media.

In the USA, violence happens in churches, schools and other workplaces, which undermines all of these vitally important social institutions by taking away these spaces as safe ones.  On the other hand, in Mexico, violence occurs around drug sales and purchases as well as some other products controlled by cartels. Violence typically does not happen in Mexican churches, schools and workplaces.  Killers are more easily identifiable as dangerous in Mexico than they are in the USA.  So, there are reasons to be even more terrified of the type, style and intensity of violence in the USA, which often fulfills copycats as narcissistic vengeful murders who attempt to overshadow their predecessors as mass shooters and mass murderers.

The suicide rates increase for the youth when suicides of their peers are broadcast by media and also increase when public figures’ suicides are broadcasted (Phillips, 1974; Phillips, Lesyna & Paight, 1991; Borgatta & Montgomery, 2000, 3080).  The mass shooting rates increase when mass shootings are broadcast, too. Unfortunately, the mass media, the tool of the elites, tends to escape the blame for the consequences of their broadcasts, though.

People who lack good enough community interactions and healthy social relations and experience bullying, for instance, are seeking notoriety in some form, which is often unhealthy.  MMA often provides an outlet through which children who were bullied seek expression of dominating bullies. For instance, the dominant former champions, George St. Pierre and Connor McGregor, were bullied badly as children.

Lacking a sense of community and belonging and neighbors in a neighborhood are also the experiences of elites, such as billionaires and their family members. Elites have many houses, condos and private jets. So, they never need to get along with any neighbors for any extended time.  Their role in MMA is to promote lavish consumerism, and MMA champions serve the purpose of advertising consumer products and services.

Without the need to get along with neighbors and even family members, the elites become sociopathic frequently and promote violence, especially between people of the lower and middle classes, which is who MMA generally appeals to as an extra source of money and for fame or glory.

MMA often appeals to people who have difficulties or major societal obstacles in finding meaningful work and positions of employment that are significant, being a job that is at least 30 hours per week and offering living wages that allow for people to lead the lifestyle of their choices.

With the sheer amount of growth of these businesses, we are confronted with the possibility of multiple billion-dollar firms by the mid-21st century and more people fighting out of desperation from poverty, narcissism and for psychotic catharsis.

MMA is an industry of cold-blooded killers in these times of war around the planet, global protest movements and utter destruction of natural environments. Many MMA fighters served in combat in multiple military branches and are proud of their wartime experience.

The UFC, for instance, has created “Fight Island,”¹⁰ which is in the United Arab Emirates, a regional U.S. ally in the Middle East that is partially responsible for the humanitarian crisis in Yemen in 2021.¹¹  The UAE uses tens of billions of dollars of American weapons of war and ammunition in Libya and Yemen in the Saudi-led war.¹²  These sorts of business partnerships may lead journalists to ask whether the UFC serves the military industrial complex and weapons companies (Raytheon, Northrop Grumman, General Dynamics, Lockheed etc.), which have added tens of thousands of new jobs during the pandemic.

However, intrepid journalists are overshadowed by fake MMA journalism that focuses on winners of bouts and downplays most of the bad publicity.

At a time of the U.S. military continuing with seven wars, including two of the longest wars in the history of the country, many soldiers are returning bloodthirsty and blood-sickened to discover their country has a rising form of entertainment, promising fights in cages, knockouts, strangling people unconscious, broken bones and bloodiness.

Is the role of the elites to present the ultimate workplace of excessive competitiveness, discriminatory practices, right-wing extreme ideology and hopes and expectations of extreme violence? This would explain why MMA commentators often refer to MMA bouts as “just another day at the office.”  This could well be interpreted as “biting sarcasm” since offices in the USA have been undergoing mass shootings and homicides at increasing rates this century.

What may not be so surprising to those who recognize that major corporations have taken control of most academic publications (Elsevier, Springer and Wiley-Blackwell), universities’ ethics departments and so-called ethicists are not publishing critiques, solutions or descriptions on their sites about fighting as work.   Their books and journals lack insight from qualitative analyses and lack ethics concerning war and war-born products and services, such as MMA.

Unfortunately, as someone who has watched hundreds of hours of MMA and participated for thousands of hours in martial arts, my overall assessment is that this industry lacks the integrity to be trusted with the lives and employment of their own competitors.  Of course, thousands of lawsuits have been filed against these companies by their own employees.  For example, UFC is undergoing a large class-action suit.¹³  However, what should be obvious is that the bouts are unfair.

Winners in MMA can be arranged beforehand since the companies largely control the set of experiences with media, hotels and sleeping arrangements, food, noise and peace and quiet before the bouts.  The companies control the contract agreements oftentimes because the fighters do not have adequate knowledge of the law and lack legal representation.

Corporations can systematically offer at least slight advantages to their chosen competitors and slight disadvantages to the others, which secures the elites a reduction of risk with respect to the gambling odds.  Moreover, their PR departments function to distract and control the space allotted for the MMA industry in the mass media.  There are many reasons why the current corporate MMA model must be changed in order to increase justice as fairness and safety while decreasing levels of violence in our societies.

William Brant, PhD. (Shodan black belt in judo)



Brant, William.  (2019).  Beyond Legal Minds: Sex, Social Violence, Systems, Methods, Possibilities.  Leiden: Brill.  

Borgatta, Edgar F. & Rhonda J.V. Montgomery. (2000). Encyclopedia of Sociology. New York: Macmillan Reference.

Lipschultz, Jeremy H. (2008). Broadcast and Internet Indecency: Defining Free Speech.  New York: Routledge.

Phillips, David P. (1974). “The Influence of Suggestion on Suicide.” American Sociological Review. 39: 340–354.

Phillips, David P., Katherine Lesyna & David T. Paight. (1991) “Suicide and the Media.” In Ronald W. Maris, et al., eds. Assessment and Prediction of Suicide. New York: Guilford.

Works Progress Administration. (1941). “Texas Narratives, Volume XVI, Part 2.” Slave Narratives: A Folk History of Slavery in the United States from Interviews with Former Slaves. pp. 35-37.  



¹ Brown University webpage concerning the panopticon: 

² Youtube video of championship fight between Nuramagomedov and Gaethje (See hyperlink)

³  Menton, Jessica.  (2020).  “‘This is going to bankrupt me’: Americans rack up $45B worth of medical debt in collections.”  USA Today.  September 18th.

⁴ Himmelstein, David, Lawless, Robert, Thorne, Deborah, Foohey, Pamela and Woolhandle, Steffie.  (2019).  “Medical Bankruptcy: Still Common Despite the Affordable Care Act.”  American Journal of Public Health.  March.  & Sainato, Michael.  (2019).  “‘I live on the street now’: how Americans fall into medical bankruptcy.”  The Guardian.  November 14th.

⁵ Dewey, Ramsey.  (2018).  “MMA without brain damage?”  (See hyperlink).

⁶ Roseingrave, Louise.  (2018).  “‘Death by misadventure’ – MMA fighter Joao Carvalho received 41 blows to the head, inquest hears.”  (See hyperlink).

Guilty plea of a MMA fighter from the Sun news organization.  (See video in hyperlink).

Display of violence between the bouts shown on major sports network, ESPN.

Criminal act of MMA fighter on video (See hyperlink; See endnote 7 for the guilty plea)

¹⁰ Fight Island in Abu Dhabi.  (See hyperlink).

¹¹ Khalel, Sharen.  (2021).  “UAE deeply involved in Yemen despite claims of withdrawal, experts say.”  Middle East Eye.  February 22.

¹² Human Right Watch.  “United States: Embargo Arms to the United Arab Emirates, Risk of Complicity in Unlawful Airstrikes in Yemen, Libya.”  (See hyperlink).

¹³ Youtube video (2021).  “How a $1.6 Billion Lawsuit May Change the UFC Forever”  (See hyperlink).


Citation: Brant, William.  (2022/2021).  Fighting as Work: Cages as Workplaces.  Ethical Conflict Consulting.  December edition.

Editor: C. Jacobs, MSc.

Photographer: W. Brant