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How to Become a Cage Fighter

A "cage fighter" is a Mixed-Martial-Arts (M.M.A.) fighter who sometimes fights in a cage (or octagon, or a boxing ring in Pride). The fighter wins by knocking out, or putting the opponent in a submission hold by which the opponent gives up, or "taps", or by decision.

The phases of a fight usually involve punching and kicking, the clinch, sometimes stand-up grappling, then a take down and ground grappling. Here you'll learn what it takes to become a cage fighter.


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    Try to play off your natural strengths. If you have solid punching power, consider focusing on striking. If you have wrestling experience from high school or college, focus on your ground game. That being said you need to know both striking and grappling as most gyms train their fighters in a balanced style.
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    Know your weaknesses as well. If you don't have a solid chin, try to get the fight to the mat to eliminate the odds of getting knocked out. Likewise, if your opponent has poor striking skills but is skilled on the ground, you may want to keep the fight on your feet.
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    Look for a gym near you that trains specifically in mixed martial arts. They will usually advertise in the Yellow Pages with a list of the techniques they specialize in. Try to find one that has at least a couple of fighters on staff as their experience will be invaluable to you.
    • If you cannot find a gym that specializes in mixed martial arts, consider studying Muay Thai, also known as Thai Kickboxing, boxing or other striking arts.
    • For grappling skills study Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Judo, sambo and wrestling.
    • You can also purchase fighting technique DVDs or books to enhance your study.
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    Become familiar with how to defend yourself outside of your own discipline. Due to the nature of cross-training, all strikers must know some grappling and vice versa.
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    Practice, practice, practice. Don't get discouraged. The more you "tap out" or get punched out, the more you learn. You have to love what you're doing, if you don't love it, quit and save yourself your monthly gym dues and your time.
    • Train to the fullest of your potential and train on strength and conditioning.
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    Enter as many competitions in kick boxing and grappling as you possibly can. Realize that every time you lose, you get better.
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    Enter a few amateur Mixed-Martial-Arts competitions. Make sure that the promoters don't charge you a high "entry fee" as they are making money off you; make sure that they match you with someone of comparable skill.
    • M.M.A. promoters are sometimes present to recruit you if your skills are promising, for example, The Ultimate Fighter. However, those fighters have been fighting for years and are well established. It is neither as quick nor as easy as it once was.


  • The people you train with and compete against are your friends; treat them with respect and you will receive the same.
  • Besides skill and strength, many believe the outcome can be determined by heart, desire, and strict dedication. It needs to be something you feel deep inside. Pain is knowing how alive you really are.
  • The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) and Bellator MMA (BMMA) are the two top MMA organizations. Watch some of these fights and take notes.
  • The outcome of a fight depends on technique, strength, and stamina. Build your strength and stamina, not only your technique.
  • Analyze your opponent's style if at all possible, whether it's reviewing tapes of their previous fights, talking with fighters who have fought them before, or seeing them fight live. Then, with your trainers, devise a game plan to follow against this opponent. Always stick to the game plan unless you have absolutely no choice but to change it.
  • Fight with a regulated and recognized organization, not a back-alley brawling club if at all possible.
  • Remember, this sport has significantly evolved since Royce Gracie won the first three of four UFC competitions with Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (grappling). Not everyone goes to the ground anymore because they have trained in takedown defense and escapes as well as striking. Therefore, it is necessary for the fighter to be more rounded and train in many disciplines instead of just one or two.


  • If you have a normal job while training for your career as a cage fighter, be prepared to explain all the bruises, black eyes and sprains that you come to work with.
  • The thing about fighting is if you get hurt you can't fight and you don't get paid. Keep that in mind.
  • Even though modern-day legitimate training and competition is highly regulated, serious injuries still occur.
  • Being a fighter can exclude you from certain insurance policies. Be sure to talk to an insurance representative to see if your choice to fight might invalidate or make you ineligible for coverage.

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Categories: Sporting Careers