[dropcap]B[/dropcap]eing a professional fighter is a whole lot more than collecting a paycheck at the end of three rounds. When you make the decision to exit the amateur ranks and turn pro you have accepted the responsibility. [pullquote]
(1) : characterized by or conforming to the technical or ethical standards of a profession (2) : exhibiting a courteous, conscientious, and generally businesslike manner in the workplace.[/pullquote]
You are now being paid, not just for your performance on fight night, but for preparing yourself to the best of your ability to step inside of the cage and put out the best product possible. Guess what? That’s a job. Your employer is the promoter and he expects you to show up on time, sell tickets, promote the event, be active on social media, be in shape, act professionally at all times in the cage and out, make weight, and to fight. Now for the amount of money you make as a professional fighter that is a lot of responsibilities but if you were worried about making money you wouldn’t be a professional fighter in the first place (stay in school kids). The promoter is right for expecting these things, he’s writing you a check.
Here’s a list of some of the things that all “PROFESSIONAL” fighters should make sure they are doing or in some cases not doing:
- There is no such thing as a “training camp”– I hear this term tossed around all the time and it drives me nuts. This sport has no season. Being a fighter is 365 days a year, so you should be training 365 days a year. We make it mandatory that all of our fighters are always two weeks out. I’ve seen so many guys either have to pass up or blow big opportunities because they were not fight ready when a short notice bout came up. Professionals train year round like the fight is in two weeks.
- What the hell is Youtube?– When I first started fighting Muay Thai back in the 90’s you didn’t know the name of your opponent and you certainly didn’t watch video of him. When you watch tape of your opponent you are focusing on his strengths and weaknesses instead of taking that time to work on YOUR strengths and weaknesses. When you watch tape on a guy you let things sneak into your head and this can cause doubts and confusion. It’s unnecessary. As a coach I watch one maybe two of our fighters opponents fights and then I set it to the side. I put together a gameplan based of what I saw and based on my fighter’s skillset. Watching tape is a coach’s job, not a fighter’s.
- Manage your weight– As a professional your job starts with what you put on your fork. You need to make sure that you stay in a comfortable range to make the weight cut as easy as possible on yourself. You should never walk into a fight drained from a cut and you shouldn’t waste time that you could be using to get technically better because you have to sweat off a few extra pounds. THERE IS NO EXCUSE TO EVER MISS WEIGHT.
- Promote the bout– If you are not promoting the fight card that you are fighting on, you are not promoting yourself. Keep in mind while this is a sport and the MOST important thing is to win your fights, this is still a business. You want shows to put you on a card and promote you? Promote the show and yourself by getting out, selling tickets, and using social media to bring attention to both you and the promotion.
- Be Professional– Be punctual. Fighter meetings, photo shoots, picking up tickets, what ever it is everything runs smoother when you are on time. Make sure that your social media activity remains professional. Honor your commitments. You signed a contract in that contract it says I will be here at this time, I will weigh this much, I will fight this person for this much money. You signed it, honor it.
This is not the end all be all of being a professional fighter but as every fight card comes around I see these mistakes being made again and again. I understand there is not a blue print on how to get to the next level but common sense tells us a few things; if I work hard ALL the time, if I don’t argue with my baby’s mama on Facebook, if I let my manager manage me, my coaches coach me, if I do my best to promote the show that’s supporting me, it will only increase my chances of success. So, you want to be a respected, professional fighter? Act professional.