Mixed Martial Arts is the fastest growing sport on earth. The big three are the UFC, Bellator, and One FC. Besides those, there are countless smaller organizations and even more MMA gyms. So how do you get into that industry? There are many ways, and since there is no correct path, I will explain from my own experience in the sport.
I used to own Combat Sports Insurance. At the time, it was the only insurance agency specifically for MMA events and gyms. I used to provide insurance for nearly every Mixed Martial Arts gym in the country. I also provided insurance to nearly all well-known events. During that time, I was also an active fighter. I have promoted international PPV events, managed fighters, and wrote the book MMA Promoters Bible. On the business side of the sport, I have been to the top of the mountain; now, I will explain some of the different paths to get there yourself.
Becoming an MMA Head Coach
To coach in MMA, you do not always have to have experience as a mixed martial artist. The team of coaches in a top gym will have a very diverse background. Some will have been fighters, and those will normally be the head coaches. If you want to become a head coach, you must have experience inside of the cage. You can train every day, spar as hard as possible (not recommended), and compete in every BJJ tournament you can find, but it still isn’t the same as the experience of actually being in the cage. The energy, the emotions, and the psychological aspect of it are all different than anything else. If you want to be a head coach, you have to know what it is like to be in there. However, you don’t have to be a great fighter to be a great coach. Take Duane Ludwig, for example. He is one of the great striking coaches in the sport and is a head coach. He has 14 losses on his record, but he is still an amazing coach. My own coach, Casey Oxendine, only had 2 fights but had coached fighters all the way to Strikeforce, WEC, and UFC. You do not have to be an amazing fighter to be an amazing head coach, but you do have to have that experience.
Becoming an MMA by walking the long road
This is where the avenues open up. There are a lot of different kinds of coaches in the Mixed Martial Arts industry. You have wrestling coaches, striking coaches, Brazilian jujitsu coaches, Muay Thai coaches, strength and conditioning coaches, etc. Every MMA gym for fighters, not just hobbyists, desperately needs these roles filled. You do not always need experience fighting to be a coach in one of these aspects.
If you have a background in any of the above specialties, you already have a great chance of getting a coaching position in a gym. You may not think being a powerlifter is a qualification to be a coach in an MMA gym, but it is. Most of the explosive movements in an MMA fight come from the hips, shrimping on the ground, judo throws, kicks, and grappling. These are all hip-centric movements. Powerlifters focus almost 100% of their time on training explosive hips. Many of the powerlifting movements have a direct correlation to MMA movements. Prior UFC heavyweight champion Matt Brown trained at the famous powerlifting gym Westside Barbell to become a better MMA fighter. UFC champion Jon Jones has famously been training with powerlifters for the past 2 years to add e and strength to be more competitive in the heavyweight division.
So now you are a specialist in a skillset important to MMA gyms. So how do you get a job? That is the part where it could be a long road. Join a gym and become a part of their community. If you have a specific skill set, let the head coach and/or owner know about your skills and how you can apply them to the sport of mixed martial arts. As you train with the fighters at the gym, let the coach know you can help for free. Use your skills to help the fighters grow; by doing that, you will show your value. As time goes on, you will probably start by getting a free membership to the gym for your help and then get offered a legitimate position at your gym.
The Fast Road To Being A MMA Coach
If you want to be an MMA coach, you probably already have at least one of the above-listed skills needed, so here is how to get a job in the sport more quickly. You need to create a professional resume, the same kind of resume you would create if you were applying for a job with Tesla, Apple, or any other company. On your resume, you will need to list all relevant qualifications, your MMA record, your experience training, and why you want to be a coach. If you do not have any MMA experience but experience in other aspects of the industry, list that on your resume. Have you trained athletes to the top of their sport? List it and explain how you did so. Do you have experience as an online trainer? That could be incredibly valuable as well. MMA gym owners have a lot of expenses and do not make as much money as you would think. You have extreme value if you can help the gym owner create an online business.
If you are ready to start your career, the first step is to create your profile on GymJobs.com; when MMA gyms are looking for coaches, they can reach out directly to you.