While some martial arts have been around for centuries, mixed martial arts only became a regulated sport in the mid-90s. Since then, it has boomed in popularity, helped in no small part by the UFC, who have taken the sport to new heights.
It’s no surprise that you’re interested in getting into MMA but how do you do it? Here we’ll give you a step-by-step guide of how to get into MMA while also looking at what you need to consider before taking the leap. Let’s take a look!
Table of Contents
- How To Become a MMA Fighter
- What To Consider Before Getting Into MMA
How To Become a MMA Fighter
Here’s our step-by-step guide for how to start MMA. We’ll look at the journey you need to take from a complete novice to an experienced pro.
1. Check Your Commitment
Before taking on any new sport, you should consider why you want to do it and what you want to achieve. This can help to guide your path and consider the sacrifices you need to make.
Are you in your 30s and are looking to have fun in the sport you love? Or perhaps you’re a teen with ambitions of being a UFC champion? Before you go on, think about your goals, time commitment, and health to ensure MMA is the right sport for you.
2. Choose a Gym
A gym is where you’ll be training and learn the basics of MMA. While you want to choose your MMA gym wisely, it’s important to remember that you can always change gyms if you are not happy or need more expertise.
You’ll want to spend time researching MMA gyms near you. In a big city, you’ll have plenty to choose from. In rural areas, your choices may be limited. But regardless, look for reviews, check out their website/Facebook page, and get some recommendations.
Once you think you’ve found the right one, give it a visit. Get a feel for the atmosphere, the equipment they have, speak to fighters and meet with coaches. If you see any proverbial red flags, don’t be afraid to walk away.
If your options are limited due to your location, then just choose your local gym. If you fall in love with MMA, you can always travel further or relocate to a better gym to make use of better coaches or facilities.
3. Learn the Basics
Once you’re settled in a gym, you’ll start learning the basics. Here you’ll be taught some fundamental techniques in striking and grappling. Here you’ll most likely find your specialty and you can work on that as your greatest tool.
As you become better at the basics, you’ll gradually advance to more complex techniques. Your coaches may specialize in specific forms of martial arts, such as Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, which has proved to be highly effective in the UFC.
4. Get In Shape
By this stage, you’d have worked out that MMA demands a high level of physical fitness. If you want to be successful in the sport, you need to be extremely fit. Even if you’re technically better or stronger than your opponent, you’ll quickly get found out if you’re not in shape.
To improve your fitness, you should focus on endurance activities such as running, cycling, and skipping rope. While building strength can be important too, you want to focus on having lean muscle as otherwise you’ll be placed in higher weight classes if you have large muscles.
Added to fitness, maintaining flexibility is also a great idea and yoga is a popular way to do it. And of course, you want to keep your body fat percentage low and have a balanced diet that is rich in lean protein.
5. Sparring and Rolling
Once you’ve learned the basics and have got into good shape, you’ll want to start sparring and rolling. This is a significant step up from basics, as you’ll essentially be fighting for real but without 100% commitment and with protective gear.
Sparring is generally when you engage in a striking sparring session. Here you’ll wear protective gear and hone your striking skills and defense. Rolling is the same principle but for grappling. Here you practice submission holds, escapes, and positional control in a live environment.
6. How to Start MMA Career
Now you need to start fighting for real! Your local area will likely have plenty of amateur events to choose from but it’s always best to consult your coach and ask fellow fighters about the best place to start. They’ll have the experience and knowledge to point you in the right direction.
Once you have something booked, then you’ll need to start training to get yourself in peak physical condition. The rules for amateur fights are usually a little different from professional fights you’ve seen, so it’s important to go over these.
Once you start winning local amateur fights, you can then step up to regional or state events. If you keep having a healthy winning record, then you’ll eventually be spotted to become a professional fighter with a minor organization. Impress there, and you can start dreaming of being picked up by the UFC.
What To Consider Before Getting Into MMA
It seems easy, right? Find a gym, learn the basics, perfect your skills, and then start fighting. In reality, there is a lot to consider, and you’ll have challenges along the way. Before starting your journey, here’s what to consider before you look at how to join MMA.
Passion and Commitment – How much do you want it? To succeed in any sport, you need 100% commitment to fulfil your potential If you’re not willing to put in the effort, there is no point in getting started.
Health and Fitness – Are you healthy and fit enough to compete in combat sports? You not only need to think about any potential health concerns but also any injuries you’ve had in the past. Competing in MMA requires you to be in peak physical condition.
Time and Money – Do you have both the time and money to get into MMA? Before you look at how to get into MMA training, you need to appreciate that you have to dedicate many hours a week to your training. And the likes of traveling, coaches, and equipment, etc. can come at a significant cost.
Support System – To fulfill any goals, it helps to have a good support system around you. Whether this is parents, friends, other family, or a partner, think about how well you’ll be supported on your MMA journey.
Age and Goals – How old are you and what do you want to achieve? Define these before you get started. Your approach will be much different if you’re just looking to have some fun compared to ambitions of being a world champion.
Mental Toughness – We’re not just talking about the octagon here. Your MMA journey will have many obstacles and setbacks. If you’re not mentally tough enough to cope with this, on top of fighting in a cage, there is little point in getting started.
How to get into amateur MMA fights?
It’s very easy to get started with amateur MMA fights as you can simply register for local events. The right way to do it is to find an MMA gym, work with a coach, and then take their advice on when and where you should start competing.
Can you get into MMA with no experience?
Absolutely! Everyone needs to start somewhere, and MMA for beginners is no different. All you need to do is take the steps that we looked at above. Eventually, you’ll learn the basics and start to improve your skills. Specific training in martial arts such as boxing and BJJ can be great ways to enhance your skills.
How long does it take to become a professional MMA fighter?
This is a very difficult question to answer as many people learn at a different paces. Also, being a professional in a minor regional organization is much different from being a UFC. That being said, you’ll most likely need at least two years of training to become a pro, with many needing more time than that.
Can I learn MMA in 1 year?
Yes, but you may not be very good. As with learning most things, you can pick up the basic skills of MMA quite quickly. However, it will take years of dedicated training and listening to coaches to turn those basic skills into being a top-level MMA fighter.
Is 21 too old to get into MMA?
No, definitely not, but you may need to be realistic. If you have no martial arts experience, then you’ll need to spend years training to be a good fighter. If you already have a base knowledge in specific martial arts such as kickboxing or wrestling, the transition will be a lot easier.
Can you teach yourself to fight?
Not to any high level, and definitely not if you want to compete. Not only will a coach teach you proper techniques but you’ll also need live sparring to put what you’ve learned in practice. Solo learning can be good for working on specific aspects of fighting and fitness, but it has severe limitations.
How long should you train before your first MMA fight?
This depends on many different factors as it can range from a few months to a few years. The best thing is to train until your coach says you’re ready to fight. With such a brutal sport, you shouldn’t take any chances with competing before you’re ready.