Can Mixed Martial Arts be Ethically Defended?: Autonomy, Paternalism and the Harm Principle
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Abstract Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) and the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) founded in 1993 have been under scrutiny for the past two decades. Unlike boxing, the ethical status of MMA and whether it is morally defensible have rarely been analyzed in the academic literature. I argue that MMA requires such an analysis because it is inherently violent. The purpose of this study was to examine elite-level MMA by referring to the ethical concepts of autonomy, paternalism and the Harm Principle. Findings from interviews with MMA athletes as well as my personal experience of MMA were presented to establish a deeper understanding of the sport and what it means to train and compete in a sport defined as violent. The conceptual analysis and findings of MMA athletes' experiences in this investigation resulted in the conclusion that MMA is ethically defensible. Additional findings, implications and recommendations for further research were also discussed.