A-Town Throwdown XII happened Dec. 16 2017 in Austin, MN and features some of the areas best Amateur and Pro Fighters. Be sure to check out the action filled night filled with decisions knockouts and submissions! Featuring local favorites, Robert Confer, Thomas Herrera and Jay Paulson, along with many up and comers including professional fighter Josh Marsh from Roufusport.
If you’re looking for a career in the octagon, marketing yourself is, hands down, one of the most important things you can do outside of training. Many fighters want to focus on fighting, and neglect to market themselves. If you have ambitions beyond your first amateur fight, you need to develop an image that is easily recognizable to fans, promoters, and sponsors. How can you do this without hiring a PR coordinator? Here are four ideas to help fighters market themselves.
1. Define Your Brand
For those of you who are uncomfortable with the idea of promoting yourself, don’t look at it as self-promotion – look at it as building a brand. As an amateur fighter, or an up and coming pro, it is essential that you focus on building your personal brand. Every fighter should ask themselves – what kind of fighter am I? What makes me different than everyone else out there? What is the image I want to convey? As a fighter, YOU are the brand. It is this brand that promotions want to sign, fans want to follow, and sponsors want to, well, sponsor. The most recognizable fighters have talent, yes, but they have also done a brilliant job of cultivating a solid personal brand.
2. Identify Potential Sponsors and Support Them
Once you have begun defining your personal brand, begin researching potential sponsors. Start with the brands or businesses that you are genuinely interested in. Have you always used a certain brand of gloves? Taken your car to Joe’s Auto since you were 16? Can’t live without your morning yogurt? Sponsors want to see that you have a history with their product/business, or a personal connection. If you think hard enough, you’re certain to find that you have history with at least a handful of potential sponsors. On that note, start local. Communities are about building connections, and as a local fighter, it benefits you to support local businesses, and that goes both ways.
3. Have A Social Media Presence
The importance of social media can’t be stressed enough. Networking is no longer for those who wear a tie to work. With the global reach of MMA, networking via social media is the best way to reach the widest audience. At a minimum, you should have an Instagram account and Facebook athlete page (note that this is separate from your personal Facebook profile). The goal is twofold – build a brand and build relationships. Use social media to portray who you are; post photos that let people learn more about you, and why you’re different. Use these platforms to also engage with fans, promotors, and fellow fighters. Social media isn’t just about posting – it’s about engaging followers, finding new opportunities, etc. Don’t look at either as a way to solely promote yourself and your brand; engagement isn’t a one way street. Follow other fighters, promotions, brands. Like, comment, and contribute to conversations. If you can’t stomach the idea of social media, look into hiring someone to run your account for you. Using a freelancer can often be much less expensive than you think. If you decide to do your own social media work, simplify it by laying out a schedule ahead of time. And if you’re panicking about content, you’d be surprised by how much you can come up with by simple being aware of your surroundings. Get in the habit of taking photos or videos of those moments when you are training. It doesn’t have to be perfect to be posted.
4. Be Marketable
While we’re on the topic, let’s be blunt. It’s not enough to develop a brand – it has to be a MARKETABLE brand. YOU have to be marketable. Be a brand that sponsors feel comfortable supporting, an athlete who they will be proud to show using their product. Contrary to popular belief, this doesn’t mean keeping quiet about the controversial opinions that make you, you. It does mean portraying those beliefs in a professional manner. If you feel strongly about a particular political issue or religion, great. Just keep any rants off social media, and the strong language for your own time. We know, we know, Connor McGregor does it. You are not Connor McGregor.
These points may seem ridiculously simple. And they are. What separates the fighters with higher profiles and better sponsors is execution and action. In training, in the cage, and in business. Take time outside of the gym to focus on improving your fight career in a new way. The best part? You can even put your feet up and indulge in some post-training session ice cream while doing it.
Contibutor from MMAWriteUp.com
The idea has been beating around in your head for a while. Sometimes passively. Sometimes in vivid detail. The question seems to be palpable some days, written in ten-foot-tall steel letters.
It’s there every time you compulsively look up a YouTube video or bite back at comment to a friend when they use “UFC” and mean “MMA”. Could you do it? Could you fight? Are you tough enough? Do you have the skills? These are the questions everyone has when that ember of an idea takes up residence behind your rib cage.
Can I fight?
The short answer is no. You’ll get killed. The more nuanced response is, maybe, but how to get started?
Here are some things to think about:
Be honest with yourself
Fighting, more importantly, training for a fight leaves very little room for self-aggrandizing. Your street brawling experience is more likely to get you hurt than help you learn. Your high school wrestling experience will mean nothing against even an sliver of submission grappling skill, and your bench press will become a laughable, meaningless stat in an actual fight.
To prepare to fight, you must take a long look at what you are capable of. What are you willing to sacrifice? Because you will sacrifice. Your friends will disappear, family will scoff and your available free time will dwindle to nothing.
If you’re able to break it down objectively and are willing to go all in, you’ve got a shot. If you’re not? That’s ok. You can still train and you can still reap the benefits of martial arts. I recommend training to everyone. Not everyone has to fight. If you’re convinced you can do it, loose your ego and prepare to learn some very humbling lessons.
- Find a decent gym
Not all gyms are created equal. If the goal is getting into an MMA fight, find some places that train fighters and find a fight card from your area. Do a quick search on the fighters and find out where they train. Small local promotion companies pull fighters from local gyms. Check out the different gyms, physically go to the gym and check them out.Gym owners, as a species, suck at returning calls and emails. The websites simply don’t do justice to what actually goes down. Get your ass to the gym, and watch. Don’t jump in right away, observe. No two gyms are alike. Some go to the death every round and some never spar.A lot of success is determined by who runs it and how you fit in. If you’re going to put your life in the hands of a coach/trainer/teammate, and you are, its likely better if you find a place that is safe and fits your personality and goals.
Stop worrying about being in shape
I hear this one all the time, “Man I’d do that; I’m just not in good enough shape yet”. Here’s a bit of truth for you, you’re right and you never will be.Being able to run a marathon, does not equal fight shape. Having a shredded bod, does not equal fight shape. You cannot get “into shape” to fight unless you’re training to do it. Strength and conditioning are nice; however, they are supplemental to the act of fighting.The seemingly un-athletic mashed potato bodied regularly run circles around the male physique models. Being “in shape” is a myth. Just start. It will suck, but a good gym will start you slowly with people in your same situation, and you’ll grow accustomed to the suck. It should be obvious, but it escapes a lot of folks, you cannot get in shape to fight, unless you’re fighting.
“That’s just two dudes rolling around humping each other” or “that wouldn’t work in a real fight”. That’s typically said by someone who’s never been taken down, mounted, robbed of breath by body weight and then tapped out by top pressure alone. Grappling, specifically for those with limited to no actual fight experience, is an excellent base to build. You can train essentially every day (don’t give me this rest day non-sense, the people who need one know when to take one, most of us don’t train hard enough to warrant it, so just relax on that one), with minimal head trauma.
Head trauma, or the infliction therein, is one of the main goals of an actual fight. Learning how to control another’s body to avoid it, well that’s just wonderful now isn’t it. Learning Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, or sambo, or catch wrestling will give the uninitiated a taste for fighting. You’ll learn fast if you enjoy the copper penny taste of total exhaustion, and the sandpaper ragged breathing that accompanies a hard roll. There is a clearly delineated skill set as well. You’ll be able to tell if you have an aptitude for physical conflict in a real big hurry as you progress in the training. Can’t figure out how to keep someone in closed guard? Getting your opponent off their feet and onto the ground is equivocal to astrophysics for you? Maybe fighting isn’t your thing. As for the “I’ll just punch’em in the face and not let it get to the ground” mindset? Great idea, chief. Spot on. Tell me what happens when you miss? Or in the likely event you’re not Dan Henderson and your incredible right hand fails to put your opponent into a coma? Against someone with even a little grappling skill, you’re in real deep water.
Learning to grapple is the first step toward stepping into the cage. It gives you a defined skill set, simulates a fight atmosphere and limits the amount of irreversible damage evident in striking sports. It’s the place to start.
Heavy bags are great. Shadow boxing is equally great. For a rank beginner though, get in the gym, get to the class, and hit pads. Bags don’t move, shadows offer no resistance and neither will you when you drop your left hand bringing your jab back. Learning to hit pads will teach distance, foot work, and timing. It helps with head movement and conditioning. Hitting pads with the right person can help you point out weaknesses and tighten up technique. Every knuckle dragging dim wit in an affliction shirt can throw a sloppy combo into a heavy bag. Hitting pads adds the element of another body in front of you with constantly changing range and seemingly random, unknown to you combinations. You’re not going to look like Floyd Jr. hitting while Floyd Sr. holds. You’re going to look more like a mildly drugged poorly coordinated koala, and that’s ok. It’s about learning the basics, improving your hand eye coordination and realizing that hitting pads all out for 15 minutes will make you re-taste your lunch. Especially starting out, hitting pads is the best way to grow accustomed to throwing limbs.
Forget about YouTube
One of the most cringe worthy statements good coaches and training partners hear is, “Hey, let me try something I saw on YouTube”. Just don’t. If any good coach sees you balancing a water bottle on a teammates head, prepping for that highlight reel high kick a la a viral video. One of two things will happen.
1. He will let you go through with it while he shuffles through paper work making sure your waivers are signed before the inevitable happens and he boots you for being an idiot or
2. He will halt whatever idiocy is about to occur, tie you in an intricate likely permanent knot and then boot you for being a moron.
YouTube and other online repositories of martial arts technique are great…. eventually. Initially, you don’t know what you don’t know, and you’re more likely to end up doing harm to yourself or your partner trying something you saw online. Forget about the flashy stuff, forget about the superman punches and flying bierembolos and belly to back suplexes and focus instead on what’s being taught to you on a personal level. Instead of trying to go for a 30 punch kick punch combo, try to remember the punch numbers in rapid succession while exhausted and throwing a switch kick that doesn’t look like you’re trying to kick yourself in the back of the head.
There’s a lot that goes into your first fight, there’s a lot that goes into getting started in MMA. Everyone sucks to start (some suck for less time and pick it up quicker but day one? Everybody looks stupid). It’s not rocket science, but it’s not tic tac toe either. Learning to fight in a good fight gym is one of the most fun, most rewarding experiences you’ll ever have. Finding where your limits are and pushing past them is an experience that’s so hard to find in these times of softness and ease. If you’re hell bent on finding out if you can take a punch, don’t let anything get in the way, if it’s your thing? You’ll figure it out real fast. If it’s not? No big deal, the training, the process is an end in itself.
To all the aspiring fighters out there, the worst that can happen is you get punched in the face.
Joe Rogan says something and I’ll paraphrase here, because I’m not going back through 1000+ pod casts for the exact quote but, “Fighting is three-dimensional kinetic chess with dire physical consequences. Regardless of the training montages.”
Written By Jens Nestingen
Writer and Co-Founder MMAWriteUp
Dynasty Combat Sports 38: Seasons Beatings 2017 took place on December 9th 2017. What an event to see with a potential fight of the year candidate, and some of the best young up and coming talent in the midwest on both the Professional and Amateur side of the card.
Kansas City Fighting Alliance: KCFA 26 was not an event to miss. But if you did miss it you can catch up with all the action right here. From the amateur heavyweight title bout to seeing Trey Ogden and Anthony Gutierrez re-enter the Kansas City Fighting Alliance cage!
You can watch this and any KCFA live on our youtube page, be sure to go subscibe