Pro Rules to Live By for Amateur Fighters

By | September 3, 2012 at 9:09 am | No comments | Outside Da Cage

Pro Rules to Live By for Amateur Fighters

Submitted by: Molly Hoskinson

A lot of fighters want to fight. I hear this all the time from fighters who contact my management company. “I don’t care, I just want to fight.” I wish I had a nickel for every time I hear that phrase and I always respond the same way: “There’s a lot more to fighting than fighting.”

A quick browse through Sherdog or the Underground will show you just how many amateurs fight once or twice and then are never heard from again. I’m sure there are a variety of reasons for that, but I often wonder how many of them could have taken their careers a lot further with a little more effort in the “business” side of the sport. As a manager, I try to make it as easy as possible on my fighters so they can focus on preparation and training. Having said that, there are responsibilities that must be taken on in order to build a solid reputation in the industry and help open doors that lead to fighting on the professional level.

Keep Your Promises
If you say you are going to fight, stand by it. Even if no contract has been signed, consider your word a contract. A contract should simply be a formality once you’ve been asked to fight on a certain date against a certain opponent and you’ve agreed to do so. If you aren’t sure, don’t agree. Say you need time to decide. Say you need to speak to your trainer. If you have a manager, you shouldn’t be doing this type of talking anyway, but if someone approaches you with a request, tell them they need to speak to your manager. Once the decision has been made, stand by it and do what needs to be done to be there with regards to paperwork, medicals, and weight cutting.

All it takes is one or two instances in which you pull out of a fight for reasons other than a medical injury and before you know it, you are not fighting any more because your name has been blacklisted in the MMA community. Suddenly no one wants to fight you and no one wants to contract you for any promotion…you’re considered unreliable. Work hard to preserve your reputation and avoid this scenario.

Keep Your Medicals Up to Date
Yes, it’s annoying. Yes, it costs money. Yes, I know you don’t have a fax machine and the handling of paperwork takes a lot out of you (really). But get it done and get it done EARLY, not on time and not late. Mistakes are made all of the time, believe me. Names are left off forms, the wrong blood test is given, faxes mysteriously disappear or are sent to the wrong person. If a mistake can be made, plan for it to happen and get this done early so these errors can be corrected in time for you to fight.

Behave Like a Professional
Remember that the fans make the fighter. Treat them well. Thank them every chance you get. Talk to people, be approachable, sell yourself. Don’t think you can just show up and fight and it will earn you fans. People need a reason to remember who you are and between the fight itself and the attitude you portray to the audience, this will seal the deal and help you increase your value in the sport.

I expect my fighters to behave morally as well as legally. Don’t get caught up in any kind of scandalous situations, from drug use to violent behavior to marital affairs. Keep to the high road, give people a reason to respect not only you as a fighter but also you as a person. Sponsors generally are very serious about supporting fighters who have a positive public image, and it only takes one mistake to ruin yours for a considerable length of time.

Build Strong Relationships with Sponsors
Nobody is going to pay you thousands of dollars to wear a t-shirt as an amateur. In fact, most MMA companies will not pay you at all, although you could potentially be swimming in free clothing and some gear. Don’t balk at the opportunity to represent a solid company. Do a great job representing them now while you’re up-and-coming and they will consider you a natural at pro level, then you will see the money. For sponsors it’s all about ROI –Return On Investment. It isn’t because they like you, it isn’t because they’re your biggest fan, it isn’t because they think you are going to be the next Anderson Silva. They want to see a return on the money they lay out. Show them you have value. Push their brand to your friends, family, and fans. Be proud of your sponsors and they will support you on your way to the top.

Consider This
Many fighters, particularly amateurs, believe that the only way to have a successful run in MMA is to win every fight. I see mediocre fighters take “walk through” opponents just to pad their records with wins. I’m here to tell you, winning is great but keep in mind there is a lot more at play here. On a promotion my fighters were on recently, one of my amateurs lost the fight. Guess who was invited back again? Not his winning opponent. My fighter was invited back because he was reliable, entertaining, and all around great to work with – he increased his value even through a loss. Now he has an opportunity to work toward the wins, build his value even more through his amateur career, and handle himself like a seasoned pro when the time comes.

Understanding MMA from a business perspective will help you achieve success – do you agree? Disagree? What types of behaviors have you seen in the business that help or hurt fighters?

Jason Przewoznik is the owner of KnockoutLounge.com. KnockoutLounge.com was created to provide a haven for up and coming Mixed Martial Artists to share their stories and their careers with the fans; Supporting ALL fighters on the rise in a not-for-profit community.
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