MMA or mixed martial arts is a sport where fighters train and display their skills inside a ring or an octagon. Many disciplines such as Judo, Muay Thai, Boxing, Wrestling, Brazillian Jiu-jitsu, and even a mixture of these art forms are on full display in an MMA bout. Famous athletes such as Connor “Notorious” Mcgregor, Jon “Bones” Jones, Stipe Miocic, and most recently, Amanda “Lioness” Nunes, are some of the most recognizable in the sport.
Other athletes from different sports such as boxing and pro-wrestling have even made the jump to professional MMA. Most notably Dave “Batista” Bautista and James Toney have famously tried their hand in MMA. What makes MMA an exciting sport is that almost anyone can participate in it.
Although anyone can join, you should understand that MMA is a sport that demands skill, respect, discipline, and an elite level of both fitness and conditioning. Even if MMA is an open and welcoming sport, not all can thrive inside its confines.
Fitness and Health are both crucial aspects that an aspiring mixed martial artist should seriously consider. Before a fight, training is vital so that you develop and prepare your body for the upcoming event. After the match, your recovery will depend on the damage sustained from the fight, and the level of fitness you currently have. The more fit and healthy you are before the fight, the faster and more efficient your recovery after the match becomes.
The reasons mentioned above is why it’s crucial to train the right way before pushing for a fight. Here are some more tips to help aspiring mixed martial artists to slowly carve their way towards glory:
Focusing on a discipline
As mentioned above, multiple forms of disciplines are on display in almost every mixed martial arts fight, hence the name “Mixed Martial Arts. You should also categorize a martial art as either striking or ground-based.
Martial arts that focus on striking make use of the extremities to deal damage to their opponent. Some disciplines also allow headbutting and other striking moves. Martial arts that fall into this category are Boxing, Kickboxing, Karate, and Muay Thai. Muay Thai is known as the “Art of Eight Limbs” as it virtually uses both fists, both elbows, both knees, and both shins.
Some striking arts incorporate weapons in their form but also have useful moves when applied in the ring or octagon. Exotic arts such as Pencak Silat, Eskrima, and Kali use knives and wooden sticks in their practice. Of course, you won’t be able to bring any real weapons to competition, aside from yourself.
Ground-based disciplines include BJJ or Brazillian Jiu-jitsu, Judo, Submission Wrestling, and Sambo. These fighting systems incorporate body locks, holds, and submission moves. These all focus into exploiting anatomical limits of individual limbs and joints and eventually force an opponent to tap or submit.
Although these martial arts don’t use a weapon, jiu-jitsu and judo can take advantage of their opponent’s judogi or gi(traditional uniform) for extra leverage.
Choose a primary martial art where you can focus and excel. As MMA is continuously evolving, it’s good to have a secondary style or martial art to master, so you don’t get left behind. Although it’s not against any rules to learn two techniques of the same category, it’s best to diversify and adapt.
Strength and Conditioning
Elite athletes know the importance of strength and conditioning for a fight. Randy “The Natural” Couture is a legend in MMA. Randy has one of the best conditioning an MMA fighter could have. At his age of 52, he managed to be the first fighter in the UFC to win at Light heavyweight and heavyweight divisions.
Most fighters will agree that improving your strength and conditioning prepares your body for the damage it’ll take in the upcoming fight. Strength also provides you the power to deal damage to your opponent.
To increase their strength, a fighter will lift weights with the right gear, such as a weight lifting belt, proper shoes, and attire. There are also lots of ways in improving strength, such as increasing reps for lifting, eating the right food, and sleeping properly.
Conditioning is what makes fighters last long in the ring. Most MMA fights last three rounds with each round lasting for 5 minutes. It may not seem long, but 15 minutes inside a caged ring with someone trying to knock you out or making you tap is a huge task even for the most seasoned fighters.
To increase your conditioning or endurance, try aerobic exercises which focus on cardio. Most fighters with the best cardio can be likened to a good defense. The best fighter will ultimately outlast the other and will win the fight. Another tip to help your cardio is by doing sports that gives focus on endurance.
MMA fighters love the conditioning of Pro Boxers and will work hard towards having legendary cardio such as Floyd Mayweather jr. and Manny Pacquiao. Swimming is also a high endurance sport that most fighters incorporate in their training.
Sleep and Nutrition
When it comes to the best training camp, sleep and nutrition are of utmost importance. A training session without rest or sleep is dangerous as it doesn’t allow the body to build up and recover from training. Without proper nutrition, a fighter can develop deadweight, lose speed and strength, and will feel gassed to early.
Kenny Florian, Georges St. Pierre, and Matt Hughes were known for approaching MMA as more of a science than a sport. Their training programs incorporated a lot of balance between rest and nutrition, which ultimately did wonders for them in the ring.
Respect your Opponent
Always respect your opponent and always stay calm. Respect your opponent’s power and weaknesses. If your opponent loves to play mind games with you, stand your ground. Understand that he or she is doing this to get inside your mind and mess up your game plan and composure. Always remember that a big part of a fight is more mental than physical.
Mental strength and fortitude are the best tools that can help a fighter overcome these taunts. Connor “Notorious” Mcgregor is a master at playing mind games. Mcgregor’s endless antics before the fight against Jose Aldo proved to be too far for the latter. Aldo became furious and carelessly charged towards Mcgregor in their fight, which ended in a swift first-round knockout win for Mcgregor.
However, if the antics cross a particular line, don’t back down. Prove to the other fighter that you aren’t intimidated and personally let them know that they crossed a line. Opponents will do everything to knock you off of your game, even if it means crossing some lines. Stay strong mentally, and you’ll weather mind games flawlessly.
As an aspiring fighter, always know that the moment you give up everything, is the moment you lose. In a fight, there will be wins and losses. A loss is never the end of a career. In fact, using failure to learn and improve your craft are vital ingredients for you to succeed. In the world of MMA and Combat sports, learning is a constant and powerful tool for a fighter who wants to be successful.
MMA is a tough sport. It may be welcoming to all, but not all can become successful in this field. To be a good fighter, you need to master a discipline or a specific martial art such as boxing or jiu-jitsu. You also have to be in great shape to prepare you for the fight and to help you recover fast after the match. Proper rest and nutrition should also work hand in hand with your training.
Remember that an MMA bout or any other bout in combat sports have a significant mental core to it. Don’t easily fall for mind games and respect the abilities of your opponents. Lastly, don’t take a loss as the defining moment of your start. Use it as motivation to learn and improve your skills for the next fight.