Mixed martial arts (MMA)—unarmed fighting games permitting techniques derived from a variety of martial arts and combat sports— has exploded from the fringes of sport into a worldwide phenomenon, a sport as controversial as it is compelling. This is the first book to pay MMA the serious philosophical attention it deserves.

With contributions from leading international scholars of the philosophy of sport and martial arts, the book explores topics such as whether MMA qualifies as a martial art, the differences between MMA and the traditional martial arts, the aesthetic dimensions of MMA, the limits of consent and choice in MMA and whether MMA can promote moral virtues. It also explores cutting-edge practical and ethical topics, including the role of gender in MMA, and the question of whether trans athletes should be allowed to compete in the women’s divisions.

The contributors to this anthology take down, ground and pound, and submit many essential questions about this fascinating recent development in the culture of sport and spectacle. This is important reading for anybody with an interest in combat sports, martial arts, or the philosophy, sociology, culture or history of sport.

chapter |3 pages


Weighing In
ByJason Holt, Marc Ramsay

chapter 1|12 pages

Mixed martial arts is not a martial art

ByIrena Martínková, Jim Parry

chapter 2|14 pages

On the martial arts status of mixed martial arts

‘There are no rules’
BySarah Malanowski, Nicholas R. Baima

chapter 3|13 pages

Loyalty, deference, and exploitation in traditional and mixed martial arts

ByAudrey Yap, Chris Goto-Jones

chapter 4|10 pages

Violence and constraints in combat sport

ByJoseph D. Lewandowski

chapter 5|13 pages

Experimentation, distributed cognition, and flow

A scientific lens on mixed martial arts
ByZachary Agoff, Benjamin Gwerder, Vadim Keyser

chapter 6|12 pages

Finding beauty in the cage

A utility-based aesthetic for MMA
ByTszki Chow

chapter 7|10 pages

An aesthetic apology for MMA

ByJason Holt

chapter 8|17 pages

The line of permissibility

Gladiators, boxers, and MMA fighters
ByMarc Ramsay

chapter 9|17 pages

Friendship as a moral defense of mixed martial arts

ByDanny Rosenberg

chapter 10|12 pages

MMA as a path to stoic virtue

ByMichael Tremblay

chapter 11|16 pages

Ethics of mixed martial arts

ByWalter Veit, Heather Browning

chapter 12|11 pages

Gender, pain, and risk in women's mixed martial arts

ByAudrey Yap

chapter 13|13 pages

Gender and ethics

Thoughts on the case of transgender athlete Fallon Fox
ByNancy Kane