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How to Become a Pro MMA Fighter

Heorhii Rysak

MMA continues to grow and gain traction, attracting many individuals who aspire to become professional MMA fighters.

As such, we’ve put together a guide-like resource to offer insights on the topic.

It’s important to recognize that becoming a professional athlete is always challenging, demanding considerable effort and sacrifice, as the road to success is often lengthy – just consider the stories of Conor McGregor or Jose Aldo.

Moreover, MMA tends to have lower earnings compared to sports like boxing. To generate significant income, it’s essential to excel in all aspects of the sport since professional MMA is a spectacle that requires drawing in audiences, engaging with journalists, cultivating a social media presence, and maintaining an active profile.

If you’re prepared to give it your all and strive to become a financially successful professional MMA fighter, it’s crucial to approach it correctly. Develop a strategy using the advice provided in this article and the experiences of renowned fighters, and commit yourself to the journey.

Regarding finances. We recently did a compilation of how much fighters earn in the UFC, I think you’ll find it interesting.

Considering Your Age

If you’re a beginner without a foundation in any combat sport, it’s important to take your age into account. However, it’s also essential to remember that it’s never too late to start.

There are examples of MMA fighters who began their careers later in life and still achieved success:

  • Randy Couture – Couture started his professional MMA career at the age of 33 after retiring from amateur wrestling. Despite the late start, he became a six-time UFC champion.
  • Yoel Romero – Romero transitioned to MMA at the age of 32 after a successful wrestling career. He has since become a top contender in the UFC middleweight division.
  • Daniel Cormier – Cormier made his MMA debut at the age of 30 after a storied wrestling career. He went on to become a two-division UFC champion.

These examples serve as an inspiration and proof that age should not be a barrier for those passionate about pursuing a career in MMA. But still, mind you, they had experience in other sports, they were strong wrestlers.

Why Age Matters

Age plays a significant role in an individual’s development as an MMA fighter. Those who begin their martial arts journey in childhood often have several advantages, including:

  • Greater experience: Starting at a young age allows athletes to accumulate years of training, providing them with more in-depth knowledge and understanding of various combat disciplines.
  • Enhanced skill development: With an early start, fighters have the opportunity to hone their skills and techniques over a longer period, resulting in a more refined skill set.
  • Faster learning curve: Younger individuals tend to learn and adapt more quickly, allowing them to pick up new techniques and strategies with ease.
  • Longer competitive career: Beginning martial arts training at a young age can lead to a more extended competitive career, offering more opportunities for growth and success.

While age does play a role in a fighter’s development and success, it is essential to remember that hard work, dedication, and passion can help overcome age-related barriers, as demonstrated by the late-starting MMA fighters mentioned earlier.

Acquire Martial Arts Skills

If you are unfamiliar with martial arts, we recommend beginning with a specific discipline.

Check out our article on the best martial arts for MMA.

Typically, MMA fighters enter the scene with prior experiences, such as middleweight champion Israel Adesanya, who transitioned from kickboxing, or the ever-dominant Jon Jones, who has a strong wrestling background.

This is due to the fact that MMA was not initially recognized as a standalone sport. However, this changed in the 2000s, as a new generation of fighters began to train in MMA, honing their skills in striking, wrestling, and jiu-jitsu simultaneously.

Hence, you can commence your MMA journey right away.

Many gyms now offer universal training classes in which you learn all types of martial arts for MMA, so don’t worry about this point and move on to the next.

Find a Right MMA Gym

Skilled Jiu-Jitsu Program: Ensure that you learn the ground game from a legitimate BJJ black belt who leads a strong BJJ program. Acquiring Jiu-Jitsu skills from an experienced black belt will optimize your chances of becoming a successful fighter.

Skilled Striking Coach: Find an MMA gym with a knowledgeable striking coach to teach you proper striking techniques. Investigate the coach’s background, ensuring they have expertise in Muay Thai, kickboxing, or Karate. Here you can see the best MMA gloves for beginners

Comprehensive Wrestling Program: Many top MMA fighters have a wrestling background. While prior experience is beneficial, it’s essential to learn the principles of this grappling art if you don’t have a wrestling foundation.

Additionally, a high-quality gym should have coaches who guide you through various martial arts competitions, allowing you to gain experience in all disciplines.

We have the article Best MMA Gyms!  Perhaps you live in the cities where they are located!

Be ready to relocate to another city if achieving your goal requires it. Numerous MMA fighters, among others, have made such moves in pursuit of their dreams.

Amateur Stage

All journeys begin at the amateur level. Be ready to engage in numerous competitions across various martial arts disciplines – the more diverse your experience, the better.

Having a wealth of amateur fights is essential for several reasons, with experience being a key factor. By participating in numerous amateur bouts across various martial arts, aspiring MMA fighters can:

  1. Hone their skills and techniques in each discipline, which contributes to their overall MMA proficiency.
  2. Develop the ability to adapt to different fighting styles, making them more versatile and well-rounded fighters.
  3. Gain a deeper understanding of their strengths and weaknesses, allowing them to focus on areas that need improvement.
  4. Build mental fortitude and resilience, as the experience of handling pressure and adversity in the ring is invaluable.

Notable MMA fighters who had an extensive amateur background in different martial arts include:

  1. Khabib Nurmagomedov – With a background in judo, sambo, and freestyle wrestling, Khabib gained valuable experience before transitioning to MMA.
  2. Amanda Nunes – A skilled practitioner of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and boxing, Nunes leveraged her diverse amateur experience to become a dominant force in MMA.
  3. Georges St-Pierre – GSP built a solid foundation in karate and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, which contributed to his successful career in MMA.

These examples illustrate the importance of gaining ample amateur experience in various martial arts to become a well-rounded and successful MMA fighter.

The Significance of a Clean Record

Managers and MMA organizations place great importance on fighters maintaining a clean record, with zero losses in their professional careers. This emphasizes the need to gain as much experience as possible at the amateur level, where losses have a lesser impact on a fighter’s career trajectory.

In the amateur arena, even future undefeated professional fighters may have experienced losses. This stage allows athletes to learn from their mistakes, fine-tune their skills, and develop resilience without significantly affecting their professional standings. By honing your abilities and building a strong foundation in amateur competitions, you can increase your chances of maintaining a clean record as you transition to the professional level, making you a more attractive prospect to managers and MMA organizations.

Helpful article: Best MMA Promotions

Training Frequency for Future Professional MMA Fighters

To become a professional fighter, you can begin with 3-4 training sessions per week, particularly if you are a beginner. This frequency provides a solid starting point, allowing you to gradually increase the number of workouts as you progress, eventually working up to training daily.

Professional fighters treat their training as a full-time job, dedicating themselves to daily sessions and constant improvement. Their commitment to honing their skills is essential to achieving success in the highly competitive world of MMA.

A well-known quote in the world of combat sports underscores the importance of consistent training: “While you’re not training, your opponent is.” This sentiment highlights the need for dedication and persistence in your training regimen to stay ahead and maintain a competitive edge.

Timeframe to Become a Professional MMA Fighter

The way to becoming a professional MMA fighter can vary in length, largely depending on your skills, dedication, and persistence. To expedite the process, it’s crucial to commit a significant amount of time to train and participating in amateur competitions.

However, it’s important to recognize that this timeline is highly individualistic, as each person’s path will differ based on factors such as their starting skill level, learning ability, and the amount of time they can dedicate to training. Patience, hard work, and determination will ultimately play a significant role in your journey to becoming a professional MMA fighter.

Additional Tips for Becoming a PRO MMA Fighter

  • Focus: Concentrate on your goals and prioritize your training. Set specific objectives for yourself and maintain a clear vision of your desired outcomes. Focus helps you stay committed and motivated during your journey.
  • Mental Strength: Developing mental resilience is crucial for success in MMA. Learn to manage stress, pressure, and adversity, as these challenges will be an integral part of your competitive career. Meditation, visualization, and positive self-talk can be helpful tools for building mental toughness.
  • Discipline: Cultivate self-discipline to maintain a consistent training schedule, follow a strict diet, and develop healthy habits that support your goals. Discipline is essential for long-term success in the sport, as it ensures that you stay on track even when motivation wanes or obstacles arise.
  • Network and Support: Surround yourself with like-minded individuals, coaches, and mentors who share your passion for MMA and can offer guidance and support throughout your journey. Building a strong network can help you learn from others’ experiences, foster motivation, and create opportunities for growth.
  • Continuous Learning: Stay open to learning new techniques, strategies, and approaches to improve your skills. The world of MMA is constantly evolving, and it’s essential to adapt and stay updated with the latest trends and methods to stay competitive in the sport.
  • Rest and Recovery: Prioritize rest and recovery as part of your training regimen. Giving your body the time it needs to heal and recover from intense workouts helps prevent injuries and ensures you can continue training at your optimal level.

By incorporating these additional tips into your MMA journey, you can foster personal growth, enhance your performance, and ultimately increase your chances of achieving success in the sport.

Final Thought

In conclusion, the path to becoming a professional MMA fighter is an exciting and challenging journey that requires dedication, focus, and perseverance. By starting with a strong foundation at the amateur level, progressively increasing your training intensity, and considering the impact of age on your development, you can set yourself up for success. Emphasizing mental strength, discipline, networking, continuous learning, and rest and recovery will further enhance your growth as a fighter. Remember, each individual’s journey is unique, and with hard work and determination, you can overcome obstacles and achieve your dreams in the world of MMA.

I suggest you watch our selection of the best MMA movies, perhaps they will give you some thoughts on your future as a fighter. After all, it’s a tough road.