The Money Fight

This article is featured in Bitcoin Magazine’s “The Primary Issue”. Click here to get your Annual Bitcoin Magazine Subscription.

I always find it funny when I am attending a Bitcoin event like Bitcoin 2023 — or next year’s Bitcoin 2024 in Nashville — and a fight fan recognizes me with a bewildered look in their eyes and asks,

“Cyborg?!…What are YOU doing here?”

The answer always seems obvious to me, “because I am a Bitcoiner!”

One thing that makes Bitcoin special is that it is for everyone and that the more you understand it, the more certain you become of its success. Whenever I meet someone and find out they are also a Bitcoiner, I instantly feel a connection with them — a sense of respect. It’s hard to explain to someone who isn’t involved in martial arts, but it’s a feeling very similar to how I feel around my Muay Thai or Brazilian jujitsu sparring partners. Maybe this is the reason for the bewildered looks at the conference; I know we are both part of a community of financial freedom warriors. In many ways, Bitcoin reminds me a lot of martial arts, in that anyone and everyone can benefit from participating, and the proof-of-work is proven in the positive, life-changing results.

I have been fighting professionally for 18 years and during that time have won every championship in the sport of MMA. I am the current Bellator MMA Champion and former UFC, Invicta FC, and Strikeforce Featherweight Champion which makes me the only “Grand Slam Champion” in the history of the sport — a title reserved only for those who have won all four major World Championships. During my time as a fighter I saw the sport change dramatically from a “No Holds Barred” spectacle into one of the largest-grossing live sporting events in the world, entertaining a truly global fanbase. When you fight for money, it is known as “prize fighting”, with money being the prize. As a fighter, our careers have very short earning periods where we have to seek the biggest “money fights” in an effort that we will be able to save and invest that money into retirement.

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MMA is a relatively new sport. This year the UFC — the largest MMA promotion — is celebrating its 30th anniversary. A look back on its brief history shows an amazing global growth rate in popularity and an acceptance that has never been witnessed in professional sports before. While the Bitcoin network is less than half the age of the sport of MMA, I see a strong resemblance in how it is truly evolving into a global phenomenon, quickly becoming common culture and reaching a tipping point where it will no longer be undeniable.

Early in the history of “Ultimate Fighting” there were few rules. With no athletic commission sanctioning the sporting competition, Congress attempted to create laws that would have banned the sport in the U.S. Through education, regulation, and self reform, eventually audiences got to see the sport of MMA evolve into what it is today: organized, sanctioned, and relatively safe for the competitors.

When I meet fellow Bitcoiners who are educating themselves about the network, advocating for adoption, or even running their own node or miners, I look at them like the early pioneers of my sport of MMA. I know that each of us collectively play an important role in helping strengthen the Bitcoin network, ensuring that the true benefits of a decentralized, peer-to-peer exchange of value are never compromised.

The first 30 years of the sport of MMA has taught us more about hand-to-hand combat than the previous 200 years of martial arts training combined. With the early Style versus Style MMA fights the audience and practitioners quickly learned that despite the old Kung Fu movies, there was no “5 touches of death” punch. Over time, we saw the most effective martial arts get proven inside of the cage, eventually causing competitors to only focus on those techniques that were proven to be effective and valuable during an actual fight.

I see Bitcoin doing to finance what MMA has done to traditional martial arts. The first 15 years of Bitcoin has taught us more about the store of value than the first 150 years of fiat currencies combined. Once you have been “Orange Pilled”, it is like signing up for “Financial MMA”. Once you understand how bitcoin is the most effective store of value — proven to be the most durable, portable, divisible, fungible, scarcest, trustless, censorship-resistant, and universally accepted as a form of money — you can make it your financial focus, knowing it is the most effective and valuable tool at saving your value long term.

BJJ is not karate and Bitcoin is not crypto! As an athlete in MMA, it is my job to train in several different styles of martial arts. To a novice watching a martial arts class, there might not look like much of a difference between a karate uniform and a Brazilian jujitsu uniform. Despite the similar uniforms, the two martial arts could not be anymore different. One focuses on punches and kicks (karate), while the other focuses on wrestling and submissions (BJJ). Most people do not understand that MMA stands for “mixed martial arts” and that we use rules from Olympic sports like boxing (punches), taekwondo (kicks), wrestling (takedowns), and judo (submissions) to compete in hybrid competition with the goal of proving what is the most effective system of combat.

Bitcoin is not crypto. Bitcoin is decentralized, digital currency exchanged through a peer-to-peer network. It is open-sourced and allows anyone to participate with no central point of control. No one person or entity is in charge and it proves itself daily as the most effective store of value, block after block, through proof of work. Just like the techniques used in the sport of MMA, the proof is in the work and the results (rewards). It’s important to differentiate between Bitcoin and cryptos in order to understand why Bitcoin is the most effective hybrid system of finance.

If my industry has taught me anything it is that women are needed to lead the revolution. Despite the first UFC taking place in 1993, it was not until I won the Strikeforce World Championship in 2009 against Gina Carano that the sport of MMA had a female recognized as undisputed World Champion. Looking at the sport today, it’s amazing to see how vital women have been to its overall growth. Now we see the biggest events being showcased by top female athletes, and we witness training facilities around the world filled with young, motivated, and hungry women wanting to prove themselves in the sport of MMA.

At the Bitcoin 2023 conference in Miami I got the opportunity to attend the second annual “women of Bitcoin” brunch hosted by Natalie Brunell, which had over 250 women from around the world in attendance. It was inspiring to meet so many young, educated, motivated women working together to ensure the Bitcoin network becomes a form of financial empowerment for women all around the world. I feel confident that years from now, as we look back on the journey of Bitcoin, that the history is going to be filled with stories of female entrepreneurs, developers, and evangelists who were instrumental in the network’s advancement and growth because Bitcoin is all-inclusive — every race, religion, and sex.

In my sport, in order to have longevity and success as a fighter, you need to understand the concept of “time preference”. As an athlete, you cannot be out partying, eating poor food, and enjoying immediate gratification if you want long-term success. Success requires us to focus on winning the small daily goals with the understanding that all the effort is rewarded with a victory come the night of the fight. I look at bitcoin and the practice of stacking sats (DCA) with that same mindset. Once you decide on a Bitcoin strategy and you understand there is only ever going to be 21 million bitcoin available, the concept of delayed gratification and time preference becomes easy to focus on. Similar to winning a championship belt in my sport, the results of all your hard work being stored in sound money is going to be life-changing.

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Early in the history of the sport of “ultimate fighting”, it was taken off the air. MMA largely made it through this “dark era” thanks to a dedicated loyal fanbase that spent their time on internet forums, and sharing VHS videos of fights to ensure people continued to get exposure to this developing sport. Never in a million years did I imagine myself fighting in front of 50,000 fans inside a soccer stadium and selling millions of pay per views.

The Bitcoin network reminds me a lot of those early mixed martial arts fans who invested their own time, energy, and efforts into the community because they believed in the results. Similar to those early years in my sport, there is no turning off the internet and because of that the Bitcoin network is going to continue to grow. It’s going to continue to get stronger, and with it will come the tipping point that will force a global acceptance of Bitcoin.

Fans admire my skill, courage, and focus when I step inside of the cage to compete in a championship prize fight, but the reality is they are not so different from me. The way I see it, everyone who swallows the orange pill has already signed the contract for the ultimate money fight.

The next time you see your favorite UFC or Bellator MMA fighter at a Bitcoin conference don’t look bewildered. Instead give them a heads-up, knowing you are both financial freedom warriors training as part of the Bitcoin network of prized fighters! 

This article is featured in Bitcoin Magazine’s “The Primary Issue”. Click here to get your Annual Bitcoin Magazine Subscription.