It’s a question which more and more people asking. As the sport of mixed martial arts has grown people want to know, how can I become an MMA Fighter?
I am going to be very honest in my answer and say that the only way to become an MMA fighter, in today’s world of people training the discipline from an early age. Is hard work, dedication, a will to learn, fitness and time. All of this and a good MMA gym.
Mixed martial arts is one of the most gruelling sports on the planet. Taking multiple disciplines in the Martial Arts, combining them together under a cohesive singular umbrella sport known as MMA.
From the sports humble beginnings back in the early 1990s, MMA has grown into a worldwide phenomenon. Where once there were fighters with individual skillsets seeking to compete in open unarmed combat inside the cage.
MMA has now developed into finely tuned singular Martial Art in its own right which draws on elements of many other disciplines. This chaining together of wrestling, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, kickboxing and boxing, along with the more traditional Arts.
Has led to MMA becoming one of the most practical and exciting combat sports in which to train and compete. So it is no wonder that today so many people are now making it their combat sport of choice and trying to figure out how they can become an MMA fighter?
What Age Can I start Training MMA
The simple answer to this is what age should I start getting punched or kicked in the head? I am referring to the sparring aspect of the sport. Imagining that you are someone who has not been training MMA since you were a child. Then teenagers from 16 years old and up is the widely accepted age for full contact sparring.
However, if you are someone who is coming to the sport at the earliest age possible. Then there are options to train in many of the non-combative elements of the sport as set out by International Mixed Martial Arts Federation or IMMAF.
The IMMAF has set out a range of very specific guideline for young athletes to get involved in training MMA from ages as young as two years old and upwards. But, as you are reading this blog, we will assume that you are a somewhat older competitor who is seeking to break into the sport and try to figure out how you can learn to train in MMA.
How Much Training Do MMA Fighters Do?
So there are two ways to look at this question as there are two types of MMA fighters. You have the hobbyist parttime person who trains during the week, usually in the evening time, after their fulltime job.
They will get do a cross-section of training with striking classes one day with a little grappling. Another day they may focus more on their grappling or submission game. And this may normally all total anywhere from one to 3 sessions per week. Some people may train more but this is just an estimate.
Now for professional MMA fighters, it’s a whole different ball game. From my own personal experience, the pro’s will on average train up to six days per week, with some even doing a little light work on the seventh!
Yes, the is correct. Professional and some dedicated amateurs who are trying to break into the professional circuit will usually train six days per week, often twice per day. With those training sessions lasting anywhere from two to three hours each time!
How Long Will It Take Me To Learn MMA?
Now, this again has a lot to do with dedication, dedication, dedication and some talent. We have heard fighters such as Conor McGregor comment that it is not talent, but hard work that got him to where he is. I think there is an element of truth to that as the man worked on honing his skills diligently, never stopping.
Actually wait, according to his coach John Kavanagh he did stop and was not a great student in the beginning. But after he dedicated himself! Then he became the phenomenon we know today.
But for every McGregor, there are another few thousand fighters who will spend their careers in the lower ranks and never get anywhere near the top. They’ll earn terrible money for the danger they put themselves in. While at the same time dedicating every spare minute they have to their craft.
I have seen it for myself in the many gyms I have trained in and many professional fighters I have interviewed. So Conor can sell the dream that anyone can do what he did, but I am personally not buying.
Some people will start in Mixed Martial Arts and have their first amateur fight within six to eighteen months. Some people will train for many years before doing the same. While others will choose to train, but never compete inside the cage.
Finding The Right MMA Gym is Critical
I lost count of how many fighters I have seen in gyms, really good fighters. Who through their loyalty of inability to find another more suitable MMA gym to train, lost the opportunity to progress in their career.
Many fighters nowadays come to MMA clubs at such an early age. And as they develop in their training, they often hit somewhat of a brick wall in terms of their learning as their coach is simply not up to the task of bringing them to that next level.
But when their coach is someone who has brought them this far in their journey. If they need to move on and find the right person to help them advance along their chosen career path. It can be extremely difficult to break away from one who has done so much for them but break away they must if they hope to go somewhere.
As MMA is such a young sport, many of its coaches have come from individual disciplines in traditional martial arts. It’s why you see teams of trainers who can focus on the different elements of MMA.
But in smaller clubs what can happen is that the team is small, very small, often with just one or two coaches and often with limited backgrounds. While they do their best to cross-train, mixing in elements of their own martial arts experience. But like I said, their knowledge has its limits.
And for this reason, you can today see fighters travelling all over the globe in order to train with the very best MMA coaches in the business at the very best gyms. And while there may now be thousands of MMA clubs worldwide. Only a small number become revered and known as the best.
Finding Time for Your MMA Training Schedule
While you may find the MMA gym of your dreams at which to train. Now you actually have to put the hours in to climb your way to the top of the pile and it is not going to be easy.
As what see on our screens and live at the MMA fight itself is just a snapshot, just a fraction of the overall picture. And the amount of blood sweat and tears that has gone into getting to that point.
I have often heard fighters saying in pre-fight interviews that all the hard work has been done and that the fight itself is the fun part. All the hard work, time and dedication have been done away from the fans and the cameras.
Hours, days weeks and years spent getting beat up in the gym. Injuries followed by eating the right foods, dieting to keep their weight on-point outside of competition. Becoming a mixed martial arts fighters is truly all about committing, even on an amateur level.
Your MMA Training Equipment is Really Important
As much of your MMA training will be physically demanding. It’s very important that you use the correct training gear to make sure you try an minimise potential injuries that would keep you out of the gym and off the mats.
Now you will have to spend a little bit of money for sure, as above and beyond all else, your body is your tool. So if you do not take care of the tool and allow the tool to become damaged by cutting corners and skimping on your MMA equipment. Then you are just hurting yourself in the long term.
I did a whole article on what you need where I break down each and every item in of MMA training equipment in order of importance. I highly recommend you check that out to get the full idea as to what you need and why. Here is the overview.
- 7oz MMA Gloves
- Mouth Guard
- Groin Guard
- Shin Guards
- 16oz Boxing Gloves
- Hand Wraps
- Rash Guard
- MMA Shorts
Don’t worry if you cannot afford everything from the beginning. Just start at the top of the list and work your way through until you have the full range of MMA training gear, you and your body won’t regret it!
My Closing Thoughts on You Becoming an MMA Fighter
I honestly think that mixed martial arts, like so many combat sports, is something you have to have a burning desire to do. It’s a gruelling, unrelenting sport where fitness and a degree of toughness are key.
Many of the battles are won in the mind and what I mean by that is that you sometimes have to be willing to go that extra mile to mentally crush your opponent. So just when they think they have you in a submission or you cannot take any more punishment, you keep going.
This type of approach can be soul-destroying for fighters and we see it over and over again when we watch the sport play out. So if you are the type of person that gives up at the first sign of adversity, mixed martial arts may not be the sport for you. It is easier said than done and you will not win them all, but you do have to be willing to go that extra mile.
I also believe that depending on your own fitness levels and the overall condition of your body that you can train, even compete in MMA, at a certain level, during the latter years of your life. That does not mean that Grandad and Grandma will end up on the mats. But they could most certainly go to a gym, hit pads and do some fitness and mobility exercise, why not!
And if you are someone who has already been training and fighting for a long time with a good record. Why not apply to become a UFC fighter, it is the pinnacle of the sport and the obvious next step for a top athlete.
Becoming a UFC fighter is the end goal of almost every MMA fighter on the planet. While other organisations have a level of status, right now none come near to that of being a UFC fighter. So do it, you only live once right, some longer than others.