5 Tips for Starting Your Amateur MMA Career

By Eric Center

The exploding popularity of the Mixed Martial Arts has given rise to a legion of young men who want to see if they have what it takes to survive in the octagon.  Promotions like the UFC and shows such as The Ultimate Fighter have turned professional fighters into overnight celebrities.  I myself had a black belt in “Couch-Fu” over a year and half ago before I decided to become an “Ultimate Fighter”.  One fight, two broken feet, 45 lost pounds, and countless hours in the gym later I have learned a lot about what it takes become an athlete and a mixed martial artist. As I prepare for my next two amateur fights this summer in Las Vegas, I want to share with you 5 tips on starting your amateur fight career.

1. Find a good gym to train at – The first step in starting your amateur fight career is to find a gym to train out of. Depending on your location this maybe a difficult task. I myself train out of Xtreme Couture in Las Vegas.  Xtreme Couture happens to be a full MMA gym that contains a cage, ring, mat area, workout area, sauna, etc. If you live in an area that does not offer such a facility, don’t be afraid to join a Jiu-Jitsu school or a kickboxing academy. Many of them offer cross training and are cheaper in price. Here are a few things to look for in a gym:

  • Price – Some gyms can cost as much as $200 a month or a cheap as $40. Remember, you are investing in yourself so if you have the funds go for the better facility.
  • The People – Training mixed martial arts is about helping each other and gaining knowledge in the various disciplines of mma, not killing each other. If the gym you are considering is filled with a bunch of individuals who are looking to hurt more than help or who think the way fighters behave on TUF is an good example of how one should act, you should consider your next option.
  • The Classes – As a mixed martial arts fighter you have to be well versed in many fight disciplines. If the gym your considering doesn’t offer at least one Muay Thai (or kickboxing), wrestling, jiu-jitsu, and boxing class I would cross train at other gyms or look elsewhere.

2. Find your niche – The biggest mistake I made when I first started fighting is I tried to do too much too soon. I would take every class that was offered just to say I took it. After 6 months I felt like I was not learning anything but just going through the motions. That is when I decided to focus on Muay Thai because it came naturally to me. For the next few months I concentrated on my striking and learning basics. After that I branched out and focused on the other aspects of fighting but always staying true to what I am best at.  Now when I fight I have a confront zone that I know I can win the fight in. If you have a combat sport background (wrestling, boxing, etc), use that as your base but focus on the area that you may not have much knowledge about. Don’t be intimidated of people who are better than you in the areas you are weak in. You NEED them because steel sharpens steel. When I roll in jiu-jitsu class I seek out the best grapplers because I know rolling with them, in time will improve the weakest part of my game.

3. Get into fighting shape! – This one is very important because in mixed martial arts, CARDIO IS KING! During a fight you use your whole body not just your legs and arms. It is critical that you are in the best shape as possible during the night of your fight. If you are just starting off in the gym is task is going to be hard. The key is to remember why you are killing yourself and keep your eye on the prize. Understand fighting is a lifestyle and you are going to have to make changes in your life outside the gym. For example, slowly over time I stopped smoking and I have cut back drinking socially. The days I can’t make it into the gym I stay active breaking a sweat doing light exercises in my room and shadow boxing. You will have situations when you can’t make it into the gym for days at a time, it is important to stay active during these times, trust me.

4. Find a mentor – At Xtreme Couture I have lucky enough to train under some very well know instructors but a two stand out from the rest. My Muay Thai instructor, Joey Varner and Affliction fighter Jay Hieron both have taken me under their wing and have given me knowledge about everything from fighting  to everyday life situations. They keep me motivated and focused. Also, seeing Jay knock people out left and right gives me goals to work for. Find somebody who is a good role model and don’t be afraid to pick their brain for information.

5. Keep a positive attitude – You have to realize that when it comes to fighting, you will have good days and bad days. The key is to roll with punches and squeeze every bit of knowledge from your instructors/training partners as you can. Don’t be afraid to ask a million questions from every in the gym. I’ll walk up to Randy Couture and ask him a question about fighting because mixed martial arts is a learning process is always evolving. Never forget why you are spending your time, money and health on mixed martial arts. Show everybody respect, this is a big one in a combat sports gym. Fighters have an unspoken brotherhood that has unwritten laws, the biggest is respect. If you keep a positive respectful attitude, the fighters at your gym will be much willing to go out of their way to help you and support you when you fight.

The biggest lesson I have learned so far in my young MMA career is hard work does really pay off. Over time you see yourself change physically and emotionally. You will become a stronger person inside and out and this will spill over into other parts of your life. Keep a warrior attitude, stay focused, show respect and you will be well on your way to have a successfully Amateur MMA career.

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3 Responses to “5 Tips for Starting Your Amateur MMA Career”

  1. June 10, 2009 at 2:01 pm

    Number 2 is a great tip and one of the most important. You can’t learn everything at once. Start with one style and then branch out. It’s like learning a language, you don’t learn English, French and Japanese all at once. You learn English, and then relate that to the other languages as you start to learn them. Good tip.

  2. June 20, 2009 at 5:15 am

    good post enjoyed the info =) Cheers!

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I offer hour long personal training sessions at the world famous Xtreme Couture Mixed Martial Arts Gym. You don't have to be a fighter and it doesn't matter what age, skill level, or gender you are. All my workouts are personalized to your individual goals and all my workouts are fun and exciting.The best part about it is I'm cheap! So come and meet your favorite fighters and train like them. Contact me for more details.

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