If you’re an MMA fan, then you’ll know, or at least be able to guess, just how difficult it is to participate in a match. Watching MMA bouts can be grueling enough, but actually, taking part is even harder. You’ve got to be at peak physical fitness, and that’s only part of the equation.
Pursuing a career as an MMA fighter is difficult but not impossible; after all, professional mixed martial artists do exist, and so it must be possible to get into cage fighting on a pro basis. However, you’re going to need to be dedicated. Here’s how to pursue a career as an MMA fighter.
Build your fitness
It might sound obvious, but building your fitness to become an MMA fighter is not easy. It’s not just a matter of hitting the treadmill or the weights every couple of days; you’ll need to build a grueling regimen to get yourself at the level of fitness that you need to compete at a professional level. The good news is that you don’t have to actually do any fighting if you want to achieve that level of fitness; through training sessions and regulating your diet, you’ll be able to get match-fit without stepping into the ring.
You’re going to need money if you want to become a professional MMA fighter. It sounds counterintuitive; after all, you’d think that entering the profession alone would be enough to get you paid, but that’s not necessarily the case. Dipping into savings to help pay for things like gym memberships and gear is a good idea. You can also look into loans from reputable providers like Loans2Go, who can help you to get some short-term cash if you need it for travel to fights or training sessions, for instance.
Be your own promoter
At least in the early stages of your MMA career, you’re going to need to promote yourself a lot. That means pounding the pavement and publicizing any fights you’re taking part in. You can enter the professional framework of MMA fighting later down the line, but at first, you’ll need to participate in your fair share of amateur bouts. Being your own promoter is essential; you’ll need to develop a talent for self-promotion, as well as a work ethic for getting out there and getting your name heard.
Learn martial arts one by one
“Mixed martial arts,” as a discipline, refers to the use of several martial arts in tandem. It’s not usually a good idea to try and learn every martial art you’ll use as part of your repertoire at once, so you should make sure to try and focus on learning individual martial arts one by one. According to Zack Nicholas of HeavyBJJ.com, it might feel slower, but you’ll gain a greater understanding of each martial art by doing this, and that will help you to develop a more well-rounded skillset when it comes time to become a pro MMA fighter.
Spread out your martial arts
When it comes to which martial arts you should be learning, it’s a good idea to “diversify your portfolio,” as stockbrokers would say. That means you shouldn’t be learning martial arts that teach similar skills. A good example of this would be learning judo and wrestling alongside one another; while they’re both worthy disciplines in and of themselves, they teach relatively similar throws and techniques, so try and branch out by learning taekwondo or Muay Thai, for example.
Build up your mental health
Mental health is a hugely underrated element of becoming a professional fighter of any kind, let alone an MMA fighter. If you want to be a successful mixed martial artist, then you’ll need to have great mental health; losing fights can be demoralizing, and lengthy training sessions can leave you exhausted, so a resilient mind and a lot of willpower are essential qualities. Be sure to look after your mental health, too, as it’s just as important as your physical health.
Train at the right gym
Not all gyms are created equal when it comes to training for MMA fighting. Just picking a regular gym, grabbing a membership, and training probably won’t be enough; you should try to find a gym that specifically caters for MMA training and potentially even employs trainers to help you. Generally speaking, if you want to get MMA fit, then a personal trainer is pretty much a must, so try to pick a gym that’s geared specifically towards this purpose.
Seek out as many amateur competitions as you can
It goes without saying, but you’re not going to be able to just enter the UFC as soon as you start on your mixed martial arts journey. That’s why you should look out for and enter as many amateur MMA competitions as you can. You should be able to find local promotions if you do some cursory online research, and most of them should be accepting competitors, so sign up for those competitions and get yourself known. This is also a great opportunity to find out whether MMA fighting really is for you or not.
Do it for the love
MMA fighting isn’t going to become profitable for you overnight. You may have to compete in a lot of amateur competitions before you become well-known enough to sign for a bigger promotion. With that in mind, you should be doing it for love and not necessarily just for the money. That’s not to say you shouldn’t seek to get paid; professionals deserve to be compensated for their efforts, after all. It does, however, mean that you shouldn’t let not getting paid or not getting paid as much as you’d expect to get you down.