MMA and The Cost of Freedom of Speech

By Ben Leven
Jacob Volkmann-UFC


In a perfect America, we could say whatever we want about the leader of our nation and expect no repercussions. For example: I could say, “Someone needs to smack some sense into Obama.” Now granted, freedom of speech does apply to most ordinary citizens. However, if you happen to be a UFC fighter, then by the stars and stripes you pay the price for freedom of speech.

I thought in the spirit of Barack Obama’s reelection, I would talk about UFC lightweight Jacob Volkmann. After defeating Antonio McKee at UFC 125, Volkmann was feeling political. Volkmann said he would fight Obama: “Someone needs to knock some sense into that idiot.” Despite only exercising the first amendment, calling out the president to a fight was not a good idea.

According to an article on, Obama enthusiasts ridiculed and threatened Volkmann and his family. On top of that, he was suspended from his job as a wrestling coach and had an unwelcome visit from the Secret Service. Talk about an escalating situation.

I believe Volkmann was treated unfairly for exercising his rights. But by the same token, I think he did it irresponsibly. Times have changed since our founding fathers put together our great nation. The amendments that were forged out of a desire for liberty may not always be in American’s best interest. The right to bear arms was created because our founding fathers lived in a time where a tyrannical monarchy loomed over their shoulders. The consequence of having this amendment now, yields flexible gun laws. The consequence for freedom of speech means you have the potential to piss off a lot of people, as Volkmann did.

I support what Volkmann did, just not how he did it. As a person with mass media exposure, you need to be careful when and how you exercise your first amendment rights. If Volkmann had approached his presidential critique constructively, he wouldn’t have been treated so harshly. Freedom of speech is a two way street, with an expensive toll to pay.

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