Disclaimer: What follows is an opinion piece. Everything in this article is the sole opinion of the author – me. I don’t claim to be some divine arbiter of morality or claim to know all the answers. I’m sharing my thoughts. Thank you!
Competing in MMA is a privilege not a right.
Competing in MMA professionally is similar to fishing, driving a car, or hunting. Anyone who wants to participate in one of those activities must obtain a state-issued license to do so. What that means is that fighting for a living is a privilege. Government regulations exist limiting who can participate in MMA bouts and how they must be conducted. Furthermore, the UFC has a personal conduct policy. Making money by inflicting targeted violence onto another person is a privilege.
On July 15, 2014, a judge convicted Greg Hardy of assaulting his ex-girlfriend stemming from a domestic violence incident. ESPN chronicled the events surrounding Hardy when he was the disgrace of the NFL. The charges were dropped against Greg Hardy, and later expunged from his criminal record, because he paid off his ex-girlfriend in a civil settlement after he took advantage of his right to a jury trial. When the jury trial began, Hardy’s ex-girlfriend was unavailable.
I will not outline in detail what Greg Hardy did. You can look that up for yourself. I will however make the case that domestic abusers should lose their opportunity to compete in MMA.
MMA is a celebration of violence. It is a display of unarmed combat. It can be beautiful, technical, and intense. It can be many things. But whether you want to argue about whether MMA itself is inherently violent (I’m looking at you Robin Black), MMA as entertainment is a celebration of violence.
Viewers tune in to see creative striking, exhilarating knockouts, and incredible submissions. But as it is state-sanctioned and regulated, it has rules and restrictions. It is a privilege.
Greg Hardy’s past should disqualify him from competing.
When somebody commits assault, society holds them legally accountable through jail time, probation, or other legal consequences. Society is telling that person that their act of violence is wrong and unacceptable. It would be hypocritical for society to turnaround, celebrate, and pay that person for acts of violence albeit now in a legal form.
It’s frustrating for people – from Twitter trolls to Dana White – to make the argument that Greg Hardy shouldn’t lose his right to work. It’s not that I think Greg Hardy shouldn’t be able to get a job; I don’t think he should be able to pursue this job. Those are two entirely different concepts. Greg Hardy could work in construction. He can be a physical trainer. He can literally do anything else. I just think his violent criminal conduct should disqualify him for fighting people for a living.
Clearly, the NFL agrees (actually I don’t think they agree, but that’s for another article). The Kansas City Chiefs released star running back Kareem Hunt after a video surfaced showing his physical confrontation with a 19-year old girl. Whether the NFL really cares about keeping domestic abusers from their violent sport (Joe Mixon? Tyreek Hill? Reuben Foster?), Ray Rice had similar treatment. The UFC should have learned from the NFL’s example (albeit a sloppy, hypocritical example) of separating itself from domestic abusers. Greg Hardy will go on to compete in professional MMA. He will be paid lots of money and commit vicious acts of violence. I don’t think that he should have that right.
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