So you want to be a UFC fighter? Have you really thought this through? In this article, we will investigate how to become an MMA fighter.
The first and most important thing is to find a decent MMA gym. Keep it local or you will be tempted to skip sessions. Be sure to check out reviews of MMA gyms online. Make sure you read reviews and do your research into exactly “WHO” will oversee your training and who works in the team. When you find the right gym, it’s time to kick off your MMA adventure!
What do you need to become a UFC fighter
Find a good gym/coach
The importance of a good coach cannot be underestimated. Not only will his colleagues be teaching you an array of MMA skills but he will also be your access to the MMA industry. Any established coach will have connections in the MMA world and these connections will mean more fights. More fights are what you will need to become a successful fighting athlete. This will help you to get noticed by the UFC and other smaller organizations.
Be a little crazy (or just very, very courageous)
If you don’t consider yourself to be the “brave type”, cage-fighting might not be for you! Remember the famous quote: “Courage is not the absence of fear, it is action in spite of fear”. If you can’t get your head around that quote, then mixed martial arts is probably not for you!
Even famous fighters sometimes admit that you have to be a little mad to step into the octagon. However, if you have a “cool head” and you can stay composed while having your head kicked and your face elbowed, then MMA success could be waiting for you.
Learn the right skills
MMA is a very skill-intensive sport. Modern mixed martial arts consists of a variety of disciplines that involve both ground and stand-up combat. MMA comprises both striking and grappling techniques that have been taken from all kinds of martial arts including Jiu-Jitsu, Muay Thai (Thai boxing), and wrestling.
Make no mistake, learning the skills needed for a successful MMA career should not be underestimated. We’re talking six or seven days a week of training, diets, weight cuts (before fights), and a whole heap of time and energy. But with the ultimate goal of standing in the center of Madison Square Garden with a UFC Championship belt over your head in front of thousands of screaming fans, does sound pretty appealing.
Dedication and lots of sacrifices
Mixed martial arts is not learned overnight but over many years of intensive and diligent practice. And during those years, don’t expect to be partying with your buddies, either! Instead, you will be getting lots of sleep, eating the right foods, staying off the booze, and staying ready for your daily gym sessions.
While the diet of MMA fighters isn’t as restrictive as say, professional bodybuilders, there still isn’t much room for alcohol, junk food, or tobacco.
Be prepared to get hurt
It’s gonna happen. Injuries are commonplace in MMA training (especially in competition). After receiving injuries, there can be months of waiting around for damage to heal and in some cases, rehab may be necessary.
If you’re not prepared to sit on the sidelines for months while injuries heal up, some fighters simply train/fight through their injuries. This level of toughness is not possessed by many and is mostly reserved for those warriors among us.
The most common injuries in MMA are broken bones, hand injuries (such as torn ligaments), knee injuries (such as tearing of the ACL), and of course concussions. Pro MMA is incredibly demanding on the body and can also be extremely harmful. But if you have “Spartan blood” running through your veins, this could be a great outlet!
Surround yourself with the right people
Even though you’re on your own when you enter The Octagon, MMA is very much a team sport. Without a great team behind you, it’s tough to get anywhere in MMA. Take time to find the right gym with the right atmosphere and experienced, patient coaches.
Look for gyms with a healthy and competitive environment and avoid those that attract monsters that insist on training and sparing at full throttle. Good coaches/gyms will be those that care for your well-being and never push you into competing until you are ready.
Check out inspiring stories of fighters that made it
It is always incredible to hear the stories of how today’s famous UFC stars got started. Many from very humble beginnings, it is heart-warming to hear the real-life “Rocky” stories from such MMA stars as Matt “The Immortal” Brown.
Here is his interview with the awesome Joe Rogan on his highly recommended podcast.
Develop an iron will
Injuries, weight cuts, getting up early, no beer, etc requires a lot of willpower. Mental toughness (while god-given in some cases) can be cultivated with practice. You can learn more about developing a fighting mindset on the British Psychological Society website.
Use your brain as well as your brawn
Mostly, the days of dumb “Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots” are over. Modern-day MMA has become a hugely technical combat sport and requires mastery of a multitude of moves and skills.
Nowadays, the brain is as important as the brawn (and maybe even more so). There is plenty of strategy and game-planning in the fight game today. Moreover, MMA fighters are athletes and comprehensive knowledge of diet and body mechanics is also vital.
And don’t neglect your activities outside of the fighting arena either! The way you conduct yourself outside of the ring is very important in today’s media-saturated sports industry. Having a good character and planning your career carefully are also big factors to become a successful cage fighter.
How hard is it to become a UFC fighter?
Becoming a UFC fighter is extremely difficult these days. It takes a lot of sacrifice and many years of total dedication.
You will need to train hard almost every day and you will need to have many professional fights on your record before being approached by the UFC.
It is necessary to stay fit and healthy. One serious injury can mean the end of your career as can suspensions for performance-enhancing substances.
Just remember that anything is possible, and it can be achieved with total commitment and a bit of luck.
We hope our article has given you some ideas and actionable tips on how to become a UFC fighter.
Thanks to Andrius Petrucenia on Flickr for his great UFC image (Original version) UCinternational (Crop) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons and Andrius Petrucenia for his UFC Belt image [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons.