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The journey of an aspiring fighter: A new chapter #10

Published On April 14, 2016 | By Helen Harper | Blog

So you want to be an MMA fighter?

Let’s think about the reality. You have to put in the hours. You need not only fitness, but the technique and skill to go with it.

Imagine, if you will. You are working a full time job. You’re training in the evenings and putting the hours in but you don’t feel like you’re improving.

Why aren’t you improving at the rate you desire? Probably because your brain is already flooded with information and by the time you actually get to training in the evening it is ‘full up’. We’ve all been there.

For most people, this is OK. It’s OK because MMA, BJJ, Muay Thai, or whatever else you train in isn’t your job. You already have a job. And your probably quite good at your job too.

But for a select few crazy people, we have a desire to take it a step further. We want to make the impossible, possible. We try and prove that having a full time job and training like a full time athlete is possible. Well guess what? It’s not. It can be for a certain amount of time but then it becomes too much.

You might make yourself sick, or simply not improve past a certain level. Either way, it’s not going to end well.

Let’s focus on MMA. You have a few fights, you do pretty well. Making weight is tricky with a full time job, but it’s doable. Getting enough hours in with your training partners is equally as hard. You make it happen though, because you want it. Nothing is going to stop you.

But what if it wasn’t that hard? What if you could train full time, put 100% in to it, almost like a real job. The question is, “Do you want to commit your life to your full time job or to becoming the best fighter you can?”

I think you know my answer. But of course, it’s not that easy. If it was that easy everyone would be doing it.

My real job involves working within special education schools.  I absolutely love it, and will probably never stop loving it because it constantly challenges me. But does it have an age limit on it? Not really. It is perfectly possible to keep teaching up until retirement as long as you remain fit and healthy.

But where does that leave MMA? There is certainly no consistency, and no real pay until you reach the big leagues. However, a very real age limit, especially for women. Before you start screaming and shouting, I am being realistic, not sexist. If you don’t already have a family when you start MMA, which has a time cap on it unless you can defy human nature, then it will also cap your time in MMA.

This much is certain, I am willing to give up my job to train full time and pursue my MMA career, giving it everything I’ve got.

This brings me to the next hot topic: Sponsors.

There are hundreds of companies out there looking for athletes to sponsor. Mostly this is free merchandise, in the hope that they will wear it in competition, post it on their social media and generally spread the word about a particular product.

As nice as it is, does free merchandise pay the bills? I only wish it did.

If like me, you have done some research on what companies look for in an athlete, you will have come up with some conflicting ideas. Some say contact them, some say wait to be contacted. Some say they have an idea in mind of who they would like to sponsor, and some are open to suggestions. The only really consistent piece of advice is to get your social media up to date, and fill it with as much positivity as it can handle.

While social media seems like an easy way out, it’s actually harder than you think. To get a decent presence online, you have to be consistent. You also have to either be interesting, inspirational or already famous.

Now that I have been announced as one of the names competing in the elimination fights to get in to the ultimate fighter house, I thought it might be easier to find a financial sponsor. I was wrong. It’s just as hard. As well as I am doing, there are hundreds of other fighters out there, more worthy and more capable. So what makes me so worth sponsoring?

To me, a sponsorship is not just about getting free stuff. It’s about representing a brand. When I represent a brand, I want people to think of the brand as soon as they see my face, and vice versa. It’s a partnership, with both parties gaining equally positive results.

Any UK fighter will tell you just how hard it is to find a financial sponsorship. MMA in the UK is growing. But it’s not big enough yet. It’s hard enough to come across gym sponsorships – let alone financial sponsorships!

What I hope to achieve from this blog post, is to raise awareness of all those fighters, especially in the UK, who train their tits off day in, day out. If you see a fighter in your gym, who you know trains hard, make sure you give them a bit of love and support!




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About The Author

English Mixed Martial Artist fighting out of Andy Roberts BJJ and Legacy BJJ with a pro record of 4-1.

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