The brave choice in following a passion takes a lot of guile. When you have chosen to become a professional Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fighter, there’s going to be many roadblocks in your way. First off, the critics will always doubt you. Everyone that surrounds you will think you’re crazy. Secondly, this is the most grueling sport in the world. Lastly, the chance of failure is WAY high. But if you have fortitude and determination, then you can’t look back. Those are two pillars of success that will push you further than you think.

But if there’s hesitation, then it’s normal. Of course you will need skill to start. There’s also a few baby steps that you will need to succeed at first and here’s a quick guide to getting past those hurdles to succeed.

Remain Mentally Tough, Emotionally Sound

The first and foremost challenge one you are in the ring or the octagon (if you are planning to become a UFC fighter). All the drives a fighter resides from within. You have heard the cliche slogan: “Heart of the Champion”. Or you may have listened to the cliche motivational song: “The Eye of the Tiger”. As cheesy as it may sound, they are true. A MMA fighter needs heart and tenacity when training and competing. There’re going to be moments (and plenty of them) when you are exhausted and want to just quit. There’re going to be times when you are hurt that you want to run away from the sport. At the end, these are just mental hurdles that you will face. Once you get past the fears of competing or training, the rest is gravy. Sporting News once stated what famed wrestling coach Daniel Cormier tells his competitors to “Embrace the grind”.

The Stronger, The Better

Now you need to understand that you will be hurt. There’s no “ifs” here. You will be hurt at some point during your career. It will vary from minor to major — think about the torn ligaments and broken arms because they are extremely common. But you can’t escape that. Again, once you train yourself to be physical tough, then you will succeed for the long term. Depending on your age, your body will take its toll from the constant training and fighting. As you take your baby steps in the MMA realm, you must recognize your physicality. You shouldn't overtrain when your body feels drained. You also can’t quit when your body is injured, which doesn’t mean fighting with a broken leg. That means you work passed the minor injuries and stop yourself when you feel you’re pushing the body too far.

Internally and Externally Regimented

Every MMA fighter that has succeed has faced the same obstacle: dedication. The ones that succeed are the ones that do as much as they can to push forward. They are willing to sacrifice to be the best. The MMA fighter will pretty much spend his or her lives in the gym — with minimal financial gain. The dedicated MMA fighter will put all aspirations to the side to succeed — be it a girlfriend or a passion or a party. This is, honestly, the hardest step among them all because you are completely tear yourself away from society. There’s temptations that will interfere with your focus on a daily basis. You must remember that once you take your eyes away from the dedication, you are that much closer to failing.

Be Smart and Adaptable

Many onlookers will think that MMA isn’t smart man's game. The average viewer only sees the physicalness of the sport and not the technique and strategy. The main point of MMA resides solely on being smart. Many fighters and coaches often compare the sport to chess. As a beginner, you will need to be fast learner and able to read your opponents moves and signals in the ring. That’s something that can’t be taught but that must be innate. As soon as you recognize this skill from within, the rest is gravy. You will need to read each opposing fighter differently and adjust on the fly. Of course, this is a skill that improves with time and training. As long you recognize you adaptability, then you will thrive enormously.

Build the Dream Support Team

Just like a boxer, the success relies with those around you. You will quickly learn that bringing together a team of trainers and partners that you trust. That’s a non-negotiable. These are the people that will guide you in the ring and push you in the gym. They also need to be honest and not afraid to show tough love. This even means choosing the right nurses and doctors from when you are hurt. The experience of these guys possess is the single biggest factor in you making you the ultimate fighter.

Pure Physical Talent

Now you could be thin and short and still be a successful fighter. But this all relies on the physical gifts that God has given you. That being said, you will need to be fast, strong and physically fit. Of course, muscles are important when throwing a punch. You also need to skill and have amazing endurance.
The fact that you have chosen this career as your life is crazy in itself. Still, it’s about sacrifice and focus that will get you over the top. Yes, these first steps are a challenge. Once you get past the hurdles, then the rest will drive to the top of the sport. Just remember: the toughest opponent you will face in this process is yourself.

Image credit: Justin Ng [Unsplash]

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