Now it’s a massive sport, with big-budget networks and a global audience to back them. Even though during the UFC days, MMA didn’t exactly have a set of rules, nowadays, the sport is played with a defined set of rules like all the other sports. Even then, it’s still a growing sport. Wondering which martial art is right for you? Maybe MMA is your path.
What is MMA
MMA is short for Mixed Martial Arts. It’s a fighting sport, with combat techniques acquired from various disciplines, such as- Thai-boxing, judo, Brazilian jiu-jitsu, and boxing. Matches are mostly fought in cages.
The players are termed ‘MMA fighters’. A game is played between two fighters, where each of them tries to achieve dominance over the other, using three basic tactics- striking, finishing holds, & control.
Combat is won through in game by submission from a player, knock-outs, and decision if the referee or the match doctor deems it necessary.
Modern MMA features various sets of defined rules and techniques. It takes a lot of training and composure to fight in the highest stage that is UFC.
How to become an MMA fighter
Becoming an MMA fighter is a big commitment, as it requires a lot of passion and compatibility. You need to look out for certain points to become an MMA fighter. Here we will discuss a few in brief.
Age and gender
For most sports out there, age is a big factor. Almost all of these sports favor a young age. MMA is not any different. But it’s also true that it has comparatively favorable terms for age of entry.
But if you wish to become a proper MMA fighter, you will have to start from a very early age. Modern MMA requires fighters to be highly conditioned & trained. The perfect age to start training for MMA would be around 15-16. This is the time your body develops. If you truly want to become an MMA fighter, you can fine-tune your physique using diets and other measures, from this age.
It also gives you better fighting compatibility as you start acquiring the techniques from a very early age.
It should be kept in mind that the age of entry into professional MMA fighting is 18. UFC doesn’t allow anyone under 18 to fight in its games. You can still participate in amateur games and gain experience before reaching 18.
That being said, you can start training in your twenties even in later stages. It might even be better to tune your body after it’s fully developed. Also, as you are older, you are better composed for an intense sport like this. If you are too old for the sport, you can take on MMA for self-defense.
It’s very effective as a self-defense measure, as it incorporates various martial art techniques.
As for gender, MMA accepts male as well as female fighters. There’s a female section of UFC with listed female MMA professionals. It even allowed a transgender professional to fight despite controversies.
Gears and equipment
It is very important to wear the right gear for MMA training. If you aren’t wearing the right protections, training sessions can cause bad injuries that will affect you throughout your career. Also, being uncomfortable in your training hurts your learning process.
If you are learning Brazillian Jiu-Jitsu or BJJ for short, you will need a proper gi, which is a Japanese kimono-shaped dress, customized for this very sport. Check out MMAStation.com for some premium quality gi suggestion.
If you are learning amateur boxing, you’ll most definitely need boxing gloves. You will need it for Muay Thai also.
For Muay Thai, it’s very important to find the proper shorts. If you are uncomfortable in your shorts, you are going to have difficulty learning.
For amateurs, it’s practical to buy MMA headgear to provide the head area some cushion in training. You will also need to buy MMA gloves on a professional level.
Choosing your martial arts & other fighting disciplines
MMA is literally short for mixed martial arts, meaning it is composed of various martial art techniques. It is necessary to have knowledge of all of those disciplines.
Which discipline you want to start with is a major decision for you. If you want to learn MMA for competitive stages, rather than for self-defense or fun, then you will have to be serious about making this choice.
If you want to prepare for heavyweight competitions like UFC, it’s advisable that you start with Muay Thai and Brazillian Jiu-Jitsu. Both of them give you comparative striking & defensive abilities.
While Muay Thai will focus on off the ground combat techniques like-kicking, punching, Brazillian Jiu-Jitsu will help you with on the ground combat, which is very important for professional MMA.
Boxing is also a very important part of MMA. Jabbing techniques are quite useful while striking your opponent. You will have to learn a bit about that too.
Even if you don’t become an MMA professional, it’s still useful to have martial arts training for self-defense.
Joining a gym
It’s a very crucial step towards becoming an MMA fighter. Choosing a gym is maybe one of the most important things you do for your MMA career. Because having a crew is very important in professional MMA. And the gym you work with usually provides that. A crew consists of instructors, physicists, etc. So it’s very important that you choose the right crew.
Even though in the early stage, you don’t have to worry about such stuff. Usually, the gym you join becomes comfortable for you & you get used to the crew. Then it will be hard to let them go afterward. So choosing a gym is very important, as you not only acquire a place to train, but also a family to support you later on.
Many people try to do it without gyms. It’s not advisable to follow YouTube videos or online instructions when it comes to practical phenomenons like combat techniques.
Coming down to which type of gyms you should join, the choice is plenty. You could join a Muay Thai, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, or a Boxing gym. You could also join an MMA gym, where they teach a combination of all those techniques. If you want to specialize in a certain discipline, you could simultaneously choose an MMA gym and a discipline-based gym.
Pay care to compare the costs and make the right long-term decision. If you join a costly gym & run out of money after a short time, it may not be beneficial for you. Compare the programs and choose the best one for you at the best cost.
Fitting gyms in your schedule
Fitting the gym in your schedule is a problem for many who are studying or doing odd hour jobs. You will find gym hours are constantly conflicting with your work hours. It can leave you overstressed.
If you choose to go to the gym before work, intensive gym schedules, like those for MMA, may leave you tired at work. If you choose to do it immediately after work, you will be drained after the whole day’s work & may not be able to give your best at the gym.
So you will have to balance your work hours and your gym hours. Perhaps you can focus more on gyms around the weekends and do less overtime or even take a job with favorable hours if you are that much passionate about MMA.
Another way could be building your own home gym. We have talked about how it’s not constructive to start learning martial arts alone. But after some time, maybe if you are confident enough, you can start doing it at home.
If you can afford it, you can keep an instructor at home too.
Building your own gym at home isn’t that hard either. If you have an extra room at your house, you can use that to build the gym. Otherwise, use your garage, with a temporary setup. You won’t need to buy many instruments for your home gym.
Networking & promoting yourself as a fighter
It’s important to have some proper links if you want to reach the highest stage of MMA that is UFC. You can start by putting yourself out there.
First of all, if you are under 18, you can do amateur fights to bolster your skills as well as earn some reputation.
This way, you can go professional as soon as you turn 18. If you over 18, you can try lower-division fights and make a name for yourself. Nothing puts you on the map of the MMA world, like fights.
You can build a website for yourself. Put your profile on the relevant sites. You can highlight your fighting videos there. You can also send relevant content to the UFC. These steps may get you a fight, even a sponsor.