One of the first things you need to do to start your MMA journey is to find a reputable gym that will help teach you the basics of the discipline. You’re free to choose from various disciplines such as boxing, Muay Thai, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and wrestling. However, this is just the beginning of your journey and there’s much more to do.
Whether it’s your passion or you just want to get into the limelight while fighting, becoming an MMA fighter is a long journey.
Even if you didn’t start young, becoming a fighter is still very possible. Many fighters today didn’t begin fighting and training until they were over 20 years old already.
As long as you have the heart, dedication, and right training, you can be well on your way into becoming a professional MMA fighter.
Again, this is just the beginning though. If you want to stand alongside your favorite fighters, then read this piece titled how to get into MMA? 5 important steps to become an MMA fighter.
Find A Reputable MMA Gym
This is one of the most important parts of becoming a fighter. When it comes down to it, MMA is a 1-on-1 sport. However, that doesn’t mean you’re alone. In fact, you’ll have a lot of people behind you to show their support as you try to nab the victory.
Some of the best fighters today come from highly reputable gyms. Jon Jones trained at Winkle-John Academy which also produced Holly Holm and many other champions.
Danier Cormier and Khabib Nurmagomedov trained in AKA. Other reputable teams include American Top Team and the Blackzillians.
A good gym is important for many reasons. The most important being the fact that you need to surround yourself with talented trainers and fighters.
When picking a gym, you should first do your research about the trainers there. Ideally, you’d want a trainer who has experience in the field they are in. If it’s boxing or kickboxing, then the coach should have a record in fighting professionally in those disciplines.
If you’re looking for a wrestling coach, finding an Olympian or a collegiate wrestler is a good idea. If you’re looking to improve your ground game, then it’s best to find a jiu-jitsu black belt to teach you.
No matter how physically gifted and naturally talented you are, you can’t improve yourself to become a champion if the people teaching you aren’t good. The better they are, the more they can help you grow.
Coaches are also going to be at your corner when you fight. If they have great experience when it comes to fighting, they’ll be able to help you win your fight by dictating your gameplan in the process.
Finding good teammates is also a vital part of your success. Having good sparring partners is a good way to develop your skills and talent when it comes to MMA.
Let’s look at AKA for example. It’s the home of many fighters such as Khabib Nurmagomedov, Cain Velasquez, Daniel Cormier, and Islam Makachev. Since they’re all talented fighters, they’re able to help each other improve significantly through training and sparring.
Another reason to find a good gym is that you’d want to train in a facility that has great amenities.
Having the necessary equipment is a must for MMA training. Aside from focus mitts, kicking pads, and punching bags, a good gym should also have equipment made for conditioning your body and cardio.
The good news is that finding a reputable gym is the easiest part of the process when it comes to answering how to get into MMA? 5 important steps to become an MMA fighter.
Three Main Areas Of Fighting
Being a one-trick pony in a sport like MMA is a bad idea. It’s called “mixed martial arts” for a reason after all. The more well-rounded you are, the higher chances you have of winning because you’ll always have a way to get out of trouble.
Let’s talk about the fighting disciplines next.
Stand-up Fighting Disciplines
All fights start on your feet. Having a solid base for your striking is one of the keys to becoming a good fighter. Remember, it’s not always about who hits the hardest. It’s also about those with the best techniques as well.
When it comes to striking, the most common bases are boxing and muay thai. Most fighters prefer sticking to muay Thai as it teaches elbows, knees, kicks, and clinching as well. However, if you want to learn proper defense and head movement, then you should go with boxing as well.
It’s a lot better to develop your own striking style when it comes to standup. Do what you’re most comfortable with.
Instead of focusing on developing your power, you need to focus more on developing your technique and precision as well. You can beat an opponent with pure technique and aggressiveness.
Aside from boxing and kickboxing, other common striking disciplines used in MMA include taekwondo, Kyokushin karate, and kickboxing.
From the outside, clinch fighting looks like it’s focused on overpowering your opponent through shear strength. However, a lot of clinch fighting exchanges mostly rely on technique as well.
Clinch fighting disciplines include certain aspects of Muay Thai, dirty boxing, wrestling, and even close quarter takedown fighting such as Judo.
If you want to use clinch fighting for strikes, then go for Muay Thai. Muay Thai clinches teach you how to effectively use elbows and knees at a close distance.
Wrestling is all about taking your opponent down as well. Most wrestling takedowns are initiated by taking a shot at the opponent’s legs. However, leg trips, suplexes, and hip throws start from the clinch as well.
Ground Fighting Disciplines
Ground fighting is very complex. It requires technique and strength but as Royce Gracie would prove in the first UFC (difference between UFC and MMA), the technique is the better wolf to feed. The two primary ground fighting disciplines are Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and wrestling.
Fighters like Demian Maia, Shinya Aoki, and Charles Oliviera are prime examples of how dangerous ground fighting can be.
One moment you’re calm and collected, the next moment, your opponent has got your body tied in a knot. With the right technique and fight IQ, you can beat even opponents that are large than you.
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is often dubbed as the gentle art. It doesn’t fully require brute strength. With the right technique, you can lock up your opponent in a dangerous joint lock or choke. Many say that the best form of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu for MMA is 10th Planet Jiu-Jitsu.
This form of jiu-jitsu doesn’t have any gi and it’s primarily made for MMA. Keep in mind that 10th Planet Jiu-Jitsu does require a lot of flexibility.
Jiu-jitsu isn’t just about submissions though. It’s all about holding and maintaining positions, as well as sweeping your opponents when they’re on top of you.
Wrestling plays a role in ground fighting as it’s used for controlling your opponents on the ground. Fighters like Khabib Nurmagomedov utilize their wrestling skills very well as they’re able to keep their opponents on the ground for a considerable amount of time.
Excelling in all three fields is going to be crucial for a successful MMA career. However, it’s tough to be a well-rounded fighter. Many fighters develop their skillsets one step at a time and that’s not really too bad of an idea as well.
If there’s one thing we’ve learned from Conor McGregor, it’s that skill alone won’t cut it in MMA. You’re going to need to learn how to sell yourself as well. Fighters are the products of promotions and the more tickets they sell, the higher fighters are paid.
On your way to the top, you need to think about how you would present yourself to the public.
Would you choose to be like Conor – an arrogant fighter who’s both entertaining and annoying. Or would you rather be like Khabib – a softspoken fighter who only really shines when the fighting starts?
At the end of the day, you’d want to present yourself for who you really are. People support fighters who are themselves and aren’t trying to play a facade.
You should start promoting yourself as early as you begin fighting at the amateur’s circuit. Create a social media account for yourself and then post your fights there. Win or lose, you need to post your fights as it lets people be a part of your journey.
Don’t expect to get into the UFC after a few fights. You’re going to have to work your way to the top and this is where your determination and will can come in.
There will be times when you’ll lose and your pay will be low. However, if you keep training and delivering excellent fights, scouts from bigger promotions will begin to take notice of you. Eventually, you’ll be fighting alongside your idols as well.
In this piece titled, “how to get into MMA? 5 important steps to become an MMA fighter,” you’ve seen the steps on how to become an MMA fighter. All that’s left now is to actually put in the work to become a well-known fighter and this is where the challenge really begins.