So You Want to Fight? – How To Become an MMA Fighter

So you want to be an MMA fighter? The road to MMA fame and fortune is not always as glamorous as it seems. There are millions of people like you who want to fight on ESPN for the UFC. However, only a few hundred of these millions of people manage to qualify for the big leagues.

MMA is different from most sports because it is constantly growing. MMA is actually the fastest growing sport today, with more and more people going to their local MMA gym to register for classes.

The MMA lifestyle is not very glamorous, many fighters have to pay for their own training plan and diet leading to a fight. Even professional fighters are still struggling to earn enough money to continue to train properly and follow a strict diet.

However, the base salary of UFC fighters increased considerably during the year, all due to the popularity of fights like Conor McGregor’s.

Best Age to Start Training MMA?

In truth, there is no “perfect” age to start practising MMA, Muay Thai or Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. In other sports such as baseball and football, it is always considered as “the sooner the better”. However, this belief is not always true when it comes to combat sports such as MMA.

Just as most studies show that it is actually better to fully develop your body and muscles before strength training, so it is with MMA training.

In a recent study, we found that the best age to start training in MMA (or any other combat sport) is around the age of 15-16. The best age to start MMA is when you are a teenager and your body is fully or almost fully developed (assuming you want to one day become a professional MMA fighter).

The reason I chose the 15-16 age group is that it will give you time to train and have some amateur competitions before you turn 18. Large MMA organisations such as the UFC generally do not sign until they are 18 years old anyway.

If you are in your twenties and want to train MMA to become a professional, it is still possible. This doesn’t mean that you’re too late, no matter how old you are, MMA is still a growing sport, which means there’s plenty of room for opportunities. Many professional MMA fighters are continuously progressing, even in competition on the highest stage (UFC).

If you are in your thirties or older, it is never too late to train MMA for self-defence. MMA, Muay Thai and Brazilian jiu-jitsu are all great practices and can be very useful in many real-life situations that you may find yourself in.

The best thing about martial arts training is that it is completely free of judgment! However, if you’re looking to become a top-flight contender in MMA, you’re out of luck if you’re too old. Most fighters peak in their 30s and that is after decades of hard competition and numerous fights.

Is MMA Safe?

When it comes to any combat sports, many parents are concerned about risk factors (concussions, injuries, etc.). Especially when their child participates in MMA competitions.

However, recent studies have shown that MMA is actually much safer than sports such as boxing and football. 

It has been proven that there are many more brain injuries in sports where you have a helmet to protect you. head guards in sports actually allow your brain to suffer even more damage than it should, allowing repeated blows that are actually much more harmful than being hit without a head guard. 

However, we would say that the protection can be useful in situations where you do not want facial lacerations or damage to the nose or ear.

The main dangers of MMA are when you start training hard and compete at a higher level. There are also many dangers in studying martial arts under the guidance of “fake” instructors. That’s why you should always be sceptical before you register for a gym, especially if there are not many good reviews online about it.

However you shouldn’t have to worry too much about that, in this day and age, good MMA gyms are not too hard to find.

Choosing a Martial Art for MMA

There is no problem if you are still not sure of the martial art to practice first. Many people have difficulty finding their true passion at the beginning of their training in combat sports.

If you are someone who is looking to become a professional fighter, then you need to be much more serious about your training, compared to someone who trains martial arts just for fun.

Not all martial arts are the same, especially when it comes to the best fighting style for MMA fighters. If you are serious about your dream of UFC, I suggest you practice Muay Thai and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, as well as take some boxing and wrestling lessons in your spare time. The best MMA fighter is an all-round fighter, so don’t put all your eggs in one basket. You must be well rounded so that your opponent cannot easily identify your weaknesses.

Can’t I just Train MMA for fun?

There is nothing wrong with training MMA for fun, there are many reasons to train martial arts other than the fact that you can make millions of dollars by doing it. Many Brazilian jiu-jitsu competitors train to stay in shape and many Muay Thai fighters train for self-defence reasons.

There is never any particular reason to train martial arts, sometimes it’s nice to do something because you like to do it. You shouldn’t feel the pressure to become an MMA fighter because it looks cool on TV, you only see the end result.

Finding the Right MMA Gym

This may seem common knowledge, however, many people do not realize that it is always better to learn from instructors who are familiar with the specific types of martial arts that are used in MMA. I recommend looking for a good Muay Thai, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, or boxing gym (whatever martial art you are interested in).

You can always sign up for an “MMA gym” that combines all these great martial arts into one. Many Muay Thai and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu gyms also offer a combination of both courses.

It is always better to compare all MMA gyms in your area and compare prices to find the best option for your specific workout. MMA training is not the cheapest thing in the world, however, the average cost of an MMA gym membership is about $100 or more per month, other countries can vary. This does not include all the gloves, shin guards and other equipment you may need to train with.

Purchasing the Right MMA Equipment

The last thing you want to do is to start training MMA, Muay Thai, or Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu without the proper equipment. Not only is it unsafe not to wear the proper equipment and training gear, but it is also something that most MMA gyms do not allow. Most MMA gyms focus on safety when members train, especially when they train.

The first thing we recommend is looking at a decent mouthguard that’s going to protect you against strikes. If you’re looking to practice Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu then picking up a BJJ Gi and attending those classes aren’t going to harm your skills.

For striking, we would recommend looking at some decent Boxing Gloves and MMA Gloves for sparrings, plus a pair of shin guards for throwing kicks.

Other niceties include getting yourself a groin protector and some hand wraps.

My MMA Gym Doesn’t Fit With My Schedule

This is a common problem people face, especially if you tend to work irregular hours or if you have a random school or work schedule.

I actually faced this problem throughout my university years, when the nearest martial arts gym was more than an hour from my apartment. This is the moment in my life when I had to improvise and create my own MMA gym at home.

The best thing about building an MMA gym at home is that you can train around your busy schedule! It is actually relatively inexpensive to create your own MMA home gym. We have created a step-by-step guide to creating your own MMA gym at home too.

As long as you have a little money to invest and the time of a weekend, you can create your own MMA gym at home!

Brazilian jiu-jitsu players can also train at home. There are many ways to improve your Brazilian jiu-jitsu at home, most of which are completely free. Many people would be surprised if you could learn more about jiu-jitsu outside the mats.

Many books and information videos are completely free online. This type of content can help you become a much better BJJ player for when you have time to start training again in the gym.

About the author

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Richard Presley

A purple belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Richard is the owner and primary writer of Attack The back. Check out my About Me Page to learn more!