So you train MMA and want to get a fight. Where do you start?
First get the reality check: Ask your coach if you are ready. If they say yes, ask them to help you get amateur fights. Pay your own money to do grappling tournaments. Start jogging, doing physical training, get mitt sessions.
If all that’s a pain in the neck and you don’t want to bother with the side stuff, then you know you’re a hobbyist and you’ll be fighting for fun. Don’t worry… you have a job and just want to enjoy hand-to-hand combat on the side. Get together with the homies on weekends and have Fight Club.
If you want to quit your job and make money fighting professionally, take the next step: Get a manager, as you start to negotiate the amateur circuit.
Doing amateur fights (with adjusted rules, thicker gloves, shin guards, and sometimes headgear), helps give you fighting experience that will build you up for the future.
It is said that your amateur record isn’t important because nobody pays attention to it when you turn pro. This is true. However, having an incredible “ammy” record can make you more enticing in the eyes of future promoters, and easier for your manager to sell you. I actually never fought ammy because back in 2001, there weren’t many opportunities for females.
Why do you need a manager? Ideally, your manager will get you matched up with people you can beat in the beginning to build your confidence. I wrote a whole column about it. Young fighters typically don’t have much money, so their coaches often fill the manager role until the fight purses start rolling in.
Once you get used to the chaotic feelings of fighting, you should aim to fight harder and harder people. It’s the only way to get better and to test your abilities, find out where your strengths and weaknesses are so you can work on them.
Okay, so once you’ve fought a bunch of ammy fights and your coach says you’re ready to “go pro.” You have a manager. Now what?
Now you have to realize several harsh realities about professional MMA:
- Promoters don’t want to pay fighters much.
- They want their hometown fighters to win, so if they are flying you in from somewhere, chances are their hometown girl or guy will be a beast compared to you.
- Fighting is half sport, half entertainment
- The fight world isn’t fair.
Do you want fights or do you want money? Chances are if you are willing to fight for cheap, you will get booked more. I personally recommend taking anything in the beginning. I always said “yes” before even hearing the purse amount. It’ll get you experience and build good will with promoters.
If you are picky and argue the cost, promoters will eventually stop contacting you completely. Then you’ll have fewer and fewer opportunities to fight at all. Finally, when you decide you’d fight for free, you just want to fight!!!! It’ll be too late.
If you’re being brought in from out of town to fight, be ready to go out swinging and finish the fight. You’ll probably get robbed if it goes to judges’ decision. If you have knock-out power or slick submissions, great.
How to get MMA fights
If not, you gotta really impress those judges. I’d still say yes to fight offers, though. If you don’t mind riling people up, maybe try calling out or smack talking star fighters from other promotions if you want to get fights.
Remember, fighting is half entertainment. It’s actually 100% entertainment for everybody but you. It’ll help make you popular and get fight offers if you are outspoken, show your personality, have an unusual fighting style, and are easy to work with. As my fans know, I use cosplay to entertain people.
As for calling out other fighters, there are plenty examples of it on MMA Twitter. To be clear, it’s not really my style so I can’t really offer too much advice.
What can I say more generally is get a second opinion on your call-out, like from your manager. At least get an opinion on whether it’s a good idea politically to say certain things or not, make sure you don’t make yourself look bad or piss off a match maker.
Right, so you’ve gotten a few fights now, you’ve got your entertainment persona sorted. You start to win a few fights. You finally beat a ranked contender, but they get the title shot offer over you. Why?!
Accept this: The fight world isn’t fair.
There are so many reasons why someone you’ve beaten gets a better fight than you.
Maybe it’s not you, it’s them. They could have a certain entertainment value. Maybe they accepted less money. Maybe their manager was buddies with the match-maker. Maybe they have cool tattoos. Who knows. It’s natural to be bitter, but move on and keep saying yes to other fights.
If you prove desirable and you get results, your time will come.
Never speak poorly publicly about fight promotions. They get insulted and never bring you back. Even if you don’t want to go back, other promotions see that and are turned off. Feel free to rant to your buddies and warn training partners, but posting stuff on social media is very risky to your career.
If you voice your bitterness too hard on social media, it’s possible that you either 1) get the next fight offer because the fans want it or 2) piss off the match-maker or promoter.
It’s a risk. Like the old knight said in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, “Choose wisely.”
At the end of the day, all fighters want more fights. All fighters are frustrated at not competing enough. This is because we train every day, feel good, and are enthusiastic.
I said yes to whoever, whenever, at whatever weight. After 18 years, I retired with the most recorded MMA fights out of any female in the world. I didn’t always win, of course. That comes with always saying “yes.”
However, I’ve had many grand adventures and made money. Professional MMA fighting can be an amazing journey – but you need to be aware of what you’re getting yourself into.