You have decided to get your ground and pound on, so it's high time you learn about how to become a cage fighter. Pride has merged with the UFC, and fighters willing to take the challenge to face one another in nearly no-holds-barred martial combat inside the octagon are winning bigger purses than ever before. One of the most exciting and challenging sports today, mixed martial arts has exploded onto the scene, and whether you are a martial artist or a fan, you can learn how to become a cage fighter.
To become a cage fighter, you will need:
- A mouth guard
- MMA gloves
- MMA shorts
- Focus mitts
- Thai pads
- Head gear for sparring
- A mat for practicing submission holds and grappling
- Access to a heavy bag, Thai boxing bag or other striking equipment
- A sparring partner
- A coach
- Find a reputable training center or centers. Because cage fighting uses mixed martial arts, or styles and techniques for fighting from multiple styles, it is important to find a coach that has strong skills in techniques such as strikes from boxing, Muay-Thai and Jeet Kune Do, grappling from Jujitsu and combat submission wrestling and takedowns from Eskrima, Judo and others. Some training centers have multiple instructors that each have a speciality. Look for instructors you trust with your training and safety, and with whom you can have fun, to help you become a cage fighter.
- Train, train, train. Developing skill will require training and conditioning four or more days per week. Training should begin with warm-up exercises such as jogging, stretching, high stepping, body weight squats, core strength exercise and making sure the body is prepared for strenuous effort. Be sure that rest and recovery are part of your cage fighting training, and that there is a greater emphasis on punch, kick and grappling drills than on getting beat into being a good fighter. Warning: a bad school is one that puts you in the ring with a much more skilled cage fighter to teach you what you don't know.
- Spar under the supervision of a coach. A coach will be able to watch your technique and point out opportunities to develop your skill as a cage fighter or to apply lessons learned in class. Sparing without a coach could result in practicing only the techniques you already have developed, which can give your opponent openings to beat you once you become a cage fighter.
- Enter local martial arts competitions. Competition is very important to developing your ability to become a cage fighter. Enter competitions in the individual techniques you are learning: Jujitsu, Thai boxing or others. Learning to fight under a set of rules with certain techniques will be important when you become a cage fighter. One misconception is that cage fighting allows for any techniques, but the reality is that cage fighting does have rules, and these rules are different depending on the state and venue in which you are competing and on your status as an amateur or professional. The New Jersey State Athletic Control Board unified rules are an example of rules adopted to govern mixed martial arts and cage fights.
- Enter local MMA competitions. This is your opportunity to become a true cage fighter. There are many mixed martial arts organizations that give you the chance to enter the cage to compete one-on-one against other cage fighters. Once you step into the cage and hear the bell, you are a cage fighter.
You are now officially a cage fighter, non-professional, semi-professional or whatever, you are a cage fighter. If your goal is to make it to the professional level, you will need to outshine your opponents in the ring and have a presence that captivates audiences. One day you might just be picked up by a promoter and moved to a professional division. Here's to you and your quest to learn how to become a cage fighter.