Before becoming a professional MMA fighter, you first need to gain solid experience in amateur MMA fighting. Which brings the question, “how to sign up for MMA fights?”
Start by asking the head coach at a local MMA gym about upcoming amateur MMA fights and when and how to sign up. Often, promoters reach out to MMA schools to request fighters for upcoming events.
So if your coach thinks you are ready for your first fight, they will sign you up for them.
If, however, you are an unaffiliated fighter (that is, you train on your own), you would have to contact local promotions on your own.
These local promotions usually have forms on their websites where you fill in your name, contact information, weight, and fight record (if any). Then the promotion will contact you and match you up for a fight.
If you have been training to become a UFC fighter, this post is for you. In the rest of this article, I will be answering every possible question you might have about being an MMA fighter.
In 2017 I lost my first amateur fight by KO (it was at heavyweight 🤷🏽♂️). In 2021 we’re fighting for the title of the ultimate fighter. Life is crazy. #TUF #TUF29 #UFC #MMA pic.twitter.com/qT93I18jpd
— Bryan Battle (@BryanBattle10) August 20, 2021
Is it easy to become an MMA fighter?
Many more people are signing up at their local MMA gym for a reason.
Being a top pro fighter in combat sports like MMA comes with superstar status, fame, and giant paychecks. However, it is not an easy task to become an MMA fighter.
Becoming an MMA fighter requires a lot of time, hard work, consistent training, dedication, strict diets, a whole lot of sweat and pain, and a little bit of luck.
The road to becoming a professional athlete is a tough one. Your days have to revolve around training and developing your skills. It has to become your obsession and passion. You should spend an average of 1,000 hours training each year.
This is why finding a good MMA gym to train at is an important thing.
There is no perfect age or right time to start training to be an MMA fighter. You can start in your twenties or thirties; all that matters is that your body and muscles are in their best shape.
It is, however, advisable to start training at the age of 15 to 16, so you can get enough training and engage in some amateur fights before you reach the age of 18. Eighteen years is the minimum age requirement for most big promotion companies to sign a fighter.
If you are looking to buy your first pair of MMA gloves or looking to add a new pair to your collection, I reviewed the best MMA gloves for sparring and training in a recent article.
In this article, I also explained why you cannot use boxing gloves for MMA training. Do check it out if you are interested in knowing the best MMA glove for your budget.
Just click that link to read it on my site.
Can you get paid for amateur fights?
Fighting at the amateur level means you are doing it for free and for the experience.
Amateur fighters don’t get paid for fighting; only professionals do. In fact, amateurs might have to pay a small fee to get into the cage for the first time. So even if you win an amateur MMA competition, you might not be getting any payment for fighting.
While amateur fighters cannot be paid directly, promotions can compensate the fighter by covering their traveling expenses or by giving them a portion of the tickets they sell.
But this is not direct compensation for fighting. If you perform well in the fighting cage, you’ll get a good following which equals compensation.
Other ways amateur fighters make money are:
- They make walkout shirts and sell them to friends and fans.
- They sell a lot of tickets, and the promotion company gives them a percentage of what they sell.
- Lastly, sponsorships and endorsements. Businesses are willing to sponsor fighters to promote their business by putting their logo on their shirts, using their products, wearing their fight gear (e.g., shin guards, MMA gloves.), or mentioning them on their social media networks.
To get sponsorships, amateur fighters must build their fanbase on social media.
All the biggest names in MMA have huge audiences on social media. Here are some quick tips on building your audience:
- Engage your fans and reply to comments
- Build your following
- Post at least once daily (A picture, video, story, or live video).
- Keep your target audience entertained
Sponsors will be more attracted to you if they see you can get them more promotions. Do not be scared to show them your feeds, following information, form, and engagement rates.
💰The Highest Paid MMA Fighters of 2018
1⃣Conor McGregor $3,030,000
2⃣Khabib Nurmagomedov $2,570,000
3⃣Mark Hunt $2,295,000
4⃣Daniel Cormier $1,820,000
5⃣Alistair Overeem $1,720,000
📊The average UFC fighter made $138,250 in 2018 pic.twitter.com/KNVJVF7X0k
— fightsketch (@fightsketch) February 26, 2019
Is there any money in MMA?
The top UFC fighters earn millions per fight.
An example is Conor McGregor, who made $10 million for just two fights in 2021. He was paid $5 million each time he showed up to his 2021 fights against Dustin Poirier. Another example is Israel Adesanya, who earned $1,542,000 just from a fight.
However, lower and middle-tier fighters earn a lot less. The payment disparity is significant, and because of this, there have been several disputes.
The payment structure in MMA is in three tiers:
- Low tier: Fighters in the low tier earn between $10,000 and $30,000 per fight. New fighters are given the lowest tier contract when they sign with the UFC.
- Medium tier: When new fighters win a few fights and build a reputation inside the Octagon, they are given a better contract to sign them to a middle tier. The earnings range from $80,000 to $250,000 per fight.
- High tier: The highest tier rakes in between $500,000 to $3,000,000 per fight. It consists of the best fighters with large fan bases.
Another thing is that the amount an MMA fighter earns depends on where they are on the fight card.
For example, The average fighter on UFC 263’s main card made $220,300. The average fighter on UFC 263’s prelim card made $85,000. While the average fighter on UFC 263’s early prelim card made $35,000
This payment disparity is a cause for concern. However, several fighters say they do it for the love of the sport rather than for the check.
It is important to note that MMA fighters only fight 3-4 times a year. So lower-tier fighters usually need to have day jobs to bring in extra income alongside their MMA career because the pay is not enough to pay their bills.
In most organizations, fighters are paid per fight.
The winner and loser are paid a base salary, also called a guaranteed amount, but the winner will earn an extra amount called a win bonus. But some organizations instead opt to pay the fighter a portion of ticket sales.
How do I find open MMA tournaments near me?
The best thing to do is discuss with your coach that you think you are ready for your first fight. Promoters usually reach out to MMA schools to request fighters for upcoming events. So if your coach thinks you are ready for your first MMA fight, they will sign you up for them.
If you train on your own, you can reach out to local promotions online.
These local promotions usually have forms on their websites where you fill in your name, contact information, weight, and fight record (if any). Your weight is essential because MMA fighters fight according to weight class.
After submitting the form, the promotion will contact you and match you up for amateur fights with other local fighters.
Hundreds of MMA promotions around the world produce MMA events. Some promotions have events monthly, while some only organize four shows per year. There will always be an upcoming fight you can sign up for.
I reviewed one of the most effective striking martial arts, Muay Thai, in a recent article.
In it, I mentioned its effectiveness in MMA, why you need to be proficient at it, and notable Muay Thai fighters. A martial artist specializing in Muay Thai would have an added advantage in MMA fights.
Just click that link to read it on my site.
#okstate Former OSU All-American wrestler Kyle Crutchmer now is 4-0 as a professional MMA fighter. In XFN 356 at River Spirit in Tulsa, Crutchmer records a unanimous-decision victory over Josh Weston of St. Louis. pic.twitter.com/iaaWLN2NCH
— Bill Haisten 🇺🇸 (@billhaisten) February 2, 2019
How many amateur MMA fights do you need to go pro?
You need to engage in as many amateur fights as possible if your sole focus is making it big at the professional level.
Don’t worry; your losses in amateur MMA don’t count against you. Amateur MMA fights were specifically created so amateur fighters could get enough competing experience.
In amateur matches, you get to fight in front of a live audience, just like in a pro event. However, the rules are altered because it is an amateur fight.
There are several promoters that specialize in the amateur league. An example of a promoter that organizes amateur league matches is JR entertainment. Another promotion company that caters to amateur fighters (and professionals, too) is cage wars.
I would advise that you compete in at least ten amateur matches and win a couple of belts before going to the Pro level. The last thing you want is to be unprepared for the professional league.
Practice makes perfect. Amateur fights are the best way to upgrade your skills and build your reputation continuously.
Take every striking and grappling lesson that you possibly can. Grappling and striking are essential techniques in mixed martial arts.
Should you also practice MMA at home with a dummy?
In a recent article, I reviewed the best grappling dummies for MMA so that you can do extra practice at home or have an alternative when no sparring partner is available.
Just click that link to read it on my site.
Mixed martial arts (MMA) is a full-contact sport that incorporates techniques from boxing, wrestling, Judo, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Karate, Muay Thai, and other martial art disciplines.
The road to becoming a professional MMA fighter is tough, but it is achievable.
Although amateur MMA fighters do not earn from their fights, it is still important that an amateur fighter competes in as many amateur MMA bouts as possible before becoming a professional fighter.