How To Join An MMA Competition?

The sport of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) continues to grow in popularity daily. Due to its increasing popularity, many of its practitioners begin to compete in MMA as well. This brings the question, how can you join an MMA competition to fight against the other participants?

How to Join an MMA Competition?

The best way to begin your journey as an MMA fighter is to commit and train. Once you commit to training, everything else will naturally follow. And before you know it, you will be getting booked for MMA fights in no time.

The article below will give you a comprehensive guide on how to join an MMA competition. Make sure to read the requirement section, as well as other things that you should keep in mind before pursuing competing as an MMA fighter.

What are the Requirements to be an MMA Fighter?

Like any other discipline, whether it be sports, writing, painting, or juggling, you must put time and effort into honing your skill set. However, with enough commitment to the skill set, mastery will follow. In terms of MMA, it is a lot of training on three different kinds of martial disciplines.

Below are the primary disciplines you should have a good grasp in:

  • Stand Up: Muay Thai, Kickboxing, Boxing, Karate
  • Grappling: Folk-Style Wrestling, Greco-Roman Wrestling, Pancrase, Judo
  • Submissions: Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (Gi or No-Gi) 

Once you have enough mastery in these three main areas, you can begin planning how to fight professionally as an MMA fighter. 

The initial fights you will have will primarily be at an amateur level. Once you have gained enough wins as an amateur, bigger promotions will start noticing your achievements. 

From there, it will only be a short jump to multinational organizations, such as:

  • ONE Championship
  • Bellator
  • The UFC

Every MMA fighter dreams of getting contracts from large MMA promotional titans, as mentioned above. With enough hard work and dedication, that will happen in no time.

Can You Start MMA with No Experience?

To start training in MMA? Absolutely, everyone has to start somewhere. Some walk into an MMA gym with prior experience in either a stand-up style, such as boxing and Muay Thai, or grappling, such as wrestling or Judo. Others, however, walk into the gym without any experience at all.

But to compete in MMA? Absolutely not. For the safety of the fighters, prior experience is a must. Before getting close to competing in any MMA competition, you have to be at least good at the three aforementioned areas of MMA.

Once you’ve already put enough time and training into those areas, then you can begin looking to compete as an MMA fighter.

How Long Should You Train Before Your First Fight?

Before your first MMA fight, there has to be a significant amount of commitment, discipline, and time put into your training. 

Some people get to fight as soon as six months, while others train for years until they get scheduled for their first fight. Despite this, several factors dictate how soon an individual can start fighting in MMA. 

These factors are:

  • Coach: Coaches will monitor your progress and will dictate if you are ready to compete as an MMA fighter 
  • Commitment & Discipline: How often the individual trains in striking and grappling. It affects individuals who have to juggle full-time work, etc.
  • Prior Experience: If the individual has previous experience, either fighting or training, in a purely striking or grappling martial art

The most important thing is probably listening to your coach. A coach has all the experience necessary to help you succeed as an MMA fighter. He will be the one managing your fights and monitoring your progress as a representative fighter from his gym. 

Below are a few examples of notable fighters and their progress towards becoming an MMA athlete:

Ken Shamrock

Frank made his MMA debut with less than a year of training, debuting his first fight in December 1994 in Tokyo, Japan, for the MMA promotion called Pancrase.

He was able to defeat Bas Rutten, the three-time King of Pancrase and future UFC heavyweight champion. Frank was able to pull off the unexpected and win the fight by decision.

Rich Franklin

Rich Franklin had his first fight after only four months into his MMA training. Franklin later made his professional debut in 2000 and continued to win the International Fighting Championship (IFC) light heavyweight Championship before fighting in the UFC.

How Much do Amateur Fighters Get Paid?

When an MMA fighter starts their career as an MMA fighter, they can get roughly around $50 – $400 per fight. The pay largely depends on the event that the organization is hosting or the promotional organization itself.

Some amateur fighters do not even get paid for the first couple of fights as they are just trying to get some early experience fighting in MMA.

Once an MMA fighter builds a high enough reputation and experience in the cage, they can start earning more money, especially if they get to sign a contract from promotional MMA organizations like the UFC or ONE Championship.

In the UFC, a new and upcoming MMA fighter fighting in the UFC’s preliminary cards can get around $5,000 – $10,000. A very huge jump compared to your first few amateur fights.

But the money-making fights are the elite MMA fighters in the main card. For example, Khabib Nurmagomedov, one of the highest-paid UFC fighters, gets to pocket $6,090,000 from one of his fights. The lowest-paid UFC fighter who fought in the main card was Petr Yan, who made approximately around $230,000 on his last fight.

Additionally, in UFC fights, you may get bonuses as well. These bonuses are given out to fighters who performed above and beyond. A “fight of the night” bonus can get two fighters of that fight as much as $50,000. 

Is 19 Too Old to Start MMA?

Not at all. Obviously, the sooner you pick up MMA at an earlier age, the better. However, the age of 19 is still a young enough age where you can excel in MMA. Additionally, the young age of around 19 is most likely the perfect sport to begin training hard in MMA.

There are clearly elite MMA fighters out there who trained before they reached the age of 10. However, many who begin training at that young don’t start in MMA. Below are the types of disciplines that a lot of MMA fighters picked up while they were young:

  • Boxing
  • Karate
  • Judo
  • Tae Kwon Do
  • Jiu Jitsu
  • Wrestling

Usually, by the age of 18, they start branching out to MMA as it usually gives more of a challenge as well as a tremendous transitional combat sport from their previous discipline.

Other MMA fighters out there start a little bit later than usual. For example, professional MMA fighter Nate did not begin training in MMA until the age of 24, which is quite late if you want to fight professionally. Furthermore, Nate did not book his pro fight until the age of 29. 

Despite his late start, Nate showed incredible dedication and hard work to the sport. Later on, Nate Quarry won five of his first six pro fights as an MMA fighter and even participated in UFC’s first The Ultimate Fighter show. 


One cannot just show up in an MMA event and participate in a fight (Unless it is an unsanctioned and unregulated MMA event). 

In order to join an MMA competition, the most important thing is to train and work hard for it. By committing to your training, there will be a point where your coach will be confident enough in your ability for you to participate in MMA competitions.

Interested in MMA? Check Out My Recommendations

Looking For Gear To Use When You Train?
If you are interested in training MMA, here is some of the gear I recommend:
Best Mouth Guard
Best MMA Gloves
Best Groin Protection
Best Rashguard
Want To Learn To Fight, But Don’t Want To Go In Person?
CoachTube has online training videos for Wrestling, Boxing, MMA and more. And best part is you can do it all from your home allowing you to go at your own pace. Check them out here.
Interested In Training Other MMA Fighters?
Click here to check out the MMA Conditioning Association and see what you need to become an MMA conditioning coach and begin training fighters.

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