A Florida court said that Joe Schilling, a former MMA fighter, acted in self-defense during a 2021 bar fight, and ruled that he would no longer face a lawsuit over allegations of battery and negligence.

Schilling’s lawyer, David Katz, said the court case was a “lesson” to people trying “to make a quick buck” by claiming damages. Under Florida law, a person who lawfully defends themselves or their loved ones is immune from criminal prosecution or civil action.


A video was released in 2021 that showed Schilling trying to walk past a man standing in the middle of the pathway at a bar. As a busboy goes to the man’s table, Schilling attempts to move around him. From the video, it is not known what was said between Schilling and the man that caused the MMA fighter to deliver two quick knockout blows.


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The man, Justin Balboa, filed a lawsuit against Schilling, saying that he was “viciously attacked, physically struck and assaulted.” He was seeking up to $30,000 in damages.

However, Broward County Judge Fabienne E. Fahnestock ruled that Schilling had acted in self-defense. He said that Schilling was returning to his table after going outside to smoke. Balboa, who was intoxicated, stumbled into Schilling. After apologizing, the video shows Balboa calling out to Schilling. He then feints toward Schilling, who reacts by dealing two punches that cause Balboa to fall to the floor unconscious.

The court found that Schilling only used necessary force, entitling him to compensation for attorney’s fees and court costs.

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