Last Updated on September 28, 2022
The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is among the top, if not the best, mixed martial art promotions worldwide. Every fighter hopes to be a UFC Hall of Famer one day. Share in the spotlight occupied by famous UFC fighters like Randy Couture, Chuck Lidell, and Maurice Smith!
Wouldn't you love that too?
But, before you can see your name next to such martial arts gurus, you have to join this competitive promotion. The journey to the UFC starts with you joining the MMA world so that as the company handpicks its next fighters, you can be on the list of favorites. Here's how to become a UFC fighter.
How To Join The Ultimate Fighting Championship
As we mentioned a few seconds ago, this journey starts the day you begin training as a mixed martial arts fighter. There's no shortcut here because hundreds of MMA fighters with different skill sets are also eyeing the same promotion.
Some make it to UFC after a few bouts in amateur fights, while others take years before the scouts at UFC notice them. Therefore, we can't say there's a specific duration before UFC can enroll you. Here's what you can do as you wait for that day:
Compete In MMA Circuits Near You
You're only as good as your last bout, whether you're a seasoned fighter or a beginner in combat sports. We've seen some UFC fighters win consecutively only to lose when they least expect it. Make sure you really have what it takes to make an impression in the MMA.
However, imagine how detrimental talent is when you have no experience. Will you even make it past your first bout? For that reason, start with amateur fights in your area.
There might even be seasoned fighters in your region. They will not only help you sharpen your fighting tactics but also tell you how they're fairing as they wait for promotion scouts to find them.
For example, Kamaru Usman, a welterweight champion, competed in five regional promotions in his early years as a professional mixed martial arts fighter. You'll meet many opponents there, and each will teach you one or two techniques.
Apply To Join The Ultimate Fighter
The Ultimate Fighter reality series keeps MMA fans glued to their televisions and gives many MMA fighters a shot at the UFC platform.
Some UFC fighters you may have seen on your screen include Tito Ortiz, Frank Mir, and Michael Bisping. They participated in different seasons of the TV series, and look how far they've come now. You'll not only attract the attention of Dana White and the rest of UFC but also gain skills by fighting some of the best opponents in MMA.
Plus, you'll have the bouts lined up for you, meaning a less stressful process than when you have to search for competitions and choose opponents yourself.
But, you have to be so good that this TV series can't resist you as it must be receiving hundreds of applications every season.
Fight In The Lower League First
You might have to start in other promotions before UFC can notice you. If you've overlooked other companies in the past, then it's time to answer their calls. It'll give you the experience you're yearning for. You'll also register some wins that'll boost your MMA record.
When you check the records, you'll see that some fought in several promotions before UFC saw them.
So, which promotions should you consider?
There are many out there, but you may want to check out Cage Warriors, Road FC, or Rizin FF. Once your name is out there, you can also attempt joining MMA organizations with almost the same rank as UFC, such as Bellator FC and ONE Championship.
The UFC might even notice you there. You never know until you start. You'll be amazed at the list of great MMA fighters in such promotions. Some, such as Demetrious Johnson, started at UFC and moved to ONE Championship.
Join A Renowned MMA Gym
Maybe, the solution is just next door. Check out local gyms for MMA programs and start training so that you'll be ready when the opportunity to showcase your skills opens.
Even if there aren't any MMA gyms near you, you can still train in the ones that focus on one sport, such as Muay Thai, Kung fu, boxing, wrestling, and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
The fighters you look up to also started their careers in those sports. Having these techniques will improve your combat skills in MMA.
Join Dana White's Contender Series
If you can capture the attention of Dana White, the UFC President, then you'll be in the promotion sooner than you think. Thus, start in Dana White's Contender Series to make him notice you. It's in its sixth season since it began in 2017.
Though the UFC contract you get here doesn't give you a spot in the UFC because it has a separate license, Dana started this platform to scout new talents. You're in the right place as a beginner!
It's a seasonal competition, and one UFC fighter discovered in 2017 was Sean O'Malley. The good thing about this route to UFC is that even if you don't get a contract, the exposure will take you to other promotions looking for talent.
Get A Manager
If you're already a professional mixed martial arts fighter, get an agent to focus on the administrative side of things as you focus on improving your fighting skills. There's a lot to do before each fight -- from booking flights to picking opponents. You should devote your time to matches. Additionally, you have to hire a good manager to assist you and do due diligence before signing up.
An influential manager can get you into promotions and help you get the best matchups!
Apply To The UFC
It might sound like pushing your luck too far, but talk to the UFC directly if the other tips above don't work. Go to their website, which we'll link later in this article, and create a profile. That'll help you earn a place in talent shows like the Contender Series and The Ultimate Fighter. If they like your record, they'll want you on their team.
Sometimes, even fighters with an exceptional record in kickboxing or other combat sports show they have the potential to be MMA fighters without having fought in mixed martial arts a lot. For instance, when Gokhan Saki joined UFC in 2017, he only had one MMA fight on his record and a commendable history in kickboxing.
Consequently, if you're already winning in combat sports, maybe it's time to let UFC know you exist.
Knock-Out Point: Once you make it in the league, you have to show your toughness to withstand the opposition! We have listed some names of knockout artists you might want to familiarize yourself with for motivation -- Most Knockouts in UFC.
Frequently Asked Questions
How many years does it take to become a UFC fighter?
Every UFC fighter has a different journey to this promotion as some join in their early 20s and take a long time, while others join MMA in their 30s and get their first contract soon after. The most you can do is start early, gain skills, and participate in bouts that draw the attention of scouts.
Find a gym, whether it's a boxing gym, muay Thai gym, or a wrestlers club, to gain diverse skills if you can't find a gym that offers comprehensive MMA training. You'll have scouts calling you as soon as you win your first bout if you're outstanding.
Is it hard to become a UFC fighter?
An aspiring MMA fighter has to work harder than seasoned fighters to get the attention of the promotion. For instance, a professional MMA fighter like Demetrious Johnson draws the attention of many MMA promotions because they know his record in combat sports.
It might take longer if you miss the basics we highlighted earlier, such as getting into a gym to gain skills and participating in various competitions so that talent scouts can find you. You might even have to push your portfolio through social media if you can't reach the executives at the top. Use your training videos or videos of you in professional fights.
You'll get there eventually, even if you have to start your MMA career in other promotions like ONE Championship before the UFC finds you. If you're beginning your MMA career and have no previous experience in the leagues, then let your coaches know and they'll tell you when there are local competitions. You might also earn a spot in events held at your local gym.
Do UFC fighters get a salary?
No, they don't because they aren't employees but independent contractors. They only receive a fighter's purse per fight based on the UFC contract, whether the bout ends in a win or loss.
The fixed purse amount is for the MMA fights on the contract. You might start with a three-fight contract or something like that. Then, you renegotiate for another fixed purse amount.
Your purse amount increases as you become more popular among fans, and the UFC also has various bonuses per fight, so your income won't stagnate. These bonuses include Fight of the Night awarded to the most impressive fighters, Submission of the Night, Knockout of the Night, and Performance of the Night.
You might be the next Donald Cerrone or Jessica Andrade by earning the most bonuses. Another way to earn is by endorsing products. For example, Jon Jones got deals with Nike, Reebok, and Gatorade.
The MMA world has many promotions, but the UFC is the ultimate quest for MMA fighters. The fame, the pay, and the bonuses draw many who want to pursue MMA professionally. So, here's how to become a UFC fighter.
First, train to match the standards of this promotion and acquire techniques to knock out opponents as fast and as tactical as possible. Second, apply or join competitions like the Ultimate Fighter to get noticed and signed up fast (no one can ignore exceptional talent). And third, make a name and be a champion in your weight class.
Are you planning to join the MMA? Tell us in the comments below.