You’ve decided you want to throw your hat in the ring and become an amateur MMA fighter. Congratulations! Mixed martial arts is an incredibly challenging and rewarding sport. But before you can step into the cage, there are a few things you need to do to prepare both mentally and physically. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help get you ready for your first amateur MMA fight.
You can’t just walk into an MMA fight without putting in the proper physical preparation. While it’s true that mixed martial arts are more than just two people brawling, there is still a lot of physicalities involved. As such, you need to make sure you’re in shape before your big day.
The most important aspect of physical preparation for most amateur fighters is cardio. This is what will help you last in the ring and have the energy to put up a good fight. You should be doing some form of cardio every day, whether it’s running, swimming, biking, or even just going for a brisk walk. The key is to get your heart rate up and break a sweat.
Most amateur fighters underestimate their capacity for cardio and, as a result, gas out pretty quickly during their fights. To make sure this doesn’t happen to you, you should combine both road work which will condition your legs and especially your shins, while also doing plenty of mid to hard sparring. Sparring is what will help prepare you for the actual fight, as it will give you a better idea of how to pace yourself and how to avoid tiring yourself out too quickly.
As for strength training, you don’t need to go crazy with this. Just some basic weightlifting or bodyweight exercises will do the trick. Focus on exercises that work multiple muscles at once, such as squats, deadlifts, pushups, and pull-ups. These compound movements will help build overall strength and power so that you can better handle yourself in the ring.
Your coach probably already knows this but make sure to taper your strength and endurance training as you get closer to your fight. You don’t want to be too sore or too tired when it comes time to step into the cage.
One of the most dreaded and potentially hazardous things about amateur MMA fighting is weight cutting. This is the process of shedding any excess water and body weight so that you can make the weight class limit for your division. For most people, this will mean cutting out salt and carbs and drinking lots of water in the days leading up to the weigh-in while also following a strict diet leading up to the fight.
Weight cutting is definitely not something to be taken lightly. It can be very dangerous if not done properly. That’s why it’s important to consult with a professional before attempting to cut weight for your fight. They will be able to help you do it in a safe and healthy way.
Make sure not to go too many weight classes below your natural weight. This will just make the weight-cutting process more difficult and more hazardous. Also, avoid any substances that might “aid” in your weight loss, such as diuretics. These can be very dangerous and can lead to serious health problems.
In addition to physical preparation, you also need to make sure you’re mentally ready for your fight. After all, mixed martial arts is as much a mental game as it is a physical one.
One of the best ways to mentally prepare for your fight is by visualization. This involves picturing yourself in the ring, going through the motions of the fight, and seeing yourself coming out victorious. Visualization can help calm your nerves and give you added confidence on fight day.
Another way to mentally prepare for your MMA fight is by listening to music. Music can be incredibly motivating and can help pump you up before your big match. Make sure to create a playlist of songs that will help you either focus or hype you up for the upcoming fight. The style of the song will depend on your preference, of course, depending on your needs and wants.
Stay Away From Stressful Situations
It’s also important to try and stay calm in the days leading up to your fight. This can be easier said than done, but it’s crucial that you don’t let your nerves get the best of you. One way to do this is by focusing on your breathing. Simply take deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth. This will help relax your body and clear your mind.
Meditation is another great way to calm your nerves and focus your mind. If you’ve never tried meditation before, there are plenty of resources available to help get you started. Just a few minutes of meditation each day can work wonders in terms of helping you stay calm and collected.
A Good Nights Sleep
The night before your fight, you should also make sure to get a good night’s sleep. This will help ensure that you’re well-rested and ready to go on fight day. This should go without saying but avoid drinking alcohol or caffeine in the 24 hours leading up to your match, as these can both dehydrate you and make it harder to focus.
Do Not Put Too Much Pressure On Yourself
Finally, one last tip for mentally preparing for your fight is to be realistic and not put too much pressure on yourself. There have been plenty of high-level fighters who started out their career with a loss. Just because you lose your first fight doesn’t mean you’re a bad fighter or that you’ll never make it to the top. Use your first fight as a learning experience, and remember that mixed martial arts are a journey, not a destination.
Study Sports Psychology
While it is not necessary to have a degree in sports psychology, it can certainly help to study the subject and understand the basics. Sports psychologists can help you with visualization, music selection, and staying calm under pressure. If you’re serious about becoming a top MMA fighter, then studying sports psychology can give you a mental edge over your opponents.
Sharpen Your Defense
Most amateur fighters only focus on the offense and neglect their defense. This is a mistake. Your defense is just as important as your offense, and you need to make sure you’re prepared for everything your opponent throws at you.
This doesn’t mean you should only focus on defending yourself, however. You also need to be able to counter-attack and take the fight to your opponent. The best way to do this is by studying various MMA techniques and practicing them in the gym.
Dedicating some sparring sessions on specifically sharpening your defense will help you in both the short and the long run. Head movement, checking kicks, takedown defense, and proper footwork are all important things to work on.
Mentally preparing for your first MMA fight can be just as important as physically preparing. By following the tips in this article, you can help ensure that you’re as mentally ready as you can be on fight day. Remember, your first fight is just a stepping stone on your journey to becoming a top MMA fighter. Do not let a loss discourage you, and always strive to learn and improve. You got this! Have fun!