Amateur MMA From an Amateurs Perspective

Discussion in 'Mixed Martial Arts Articles' started by Pretty In Pink, Feb 22, 2017.

  1. Pretty In Pink

    Pretty In Pink Valued Member MAP 2017 Gold Award

    The amateur level of MMA is still growing, although it’s nowhere near the level of amateur boxing. Amateur boxers typically fight a few times a month when they are young, between 10 and 16 years old, before they gain enough size to knock others out. They fight often mostly to rack up experience. A good amateur boxer by the time they are ready to turn pro have had as many as five HUNDRED fights (Oscar De La Hoya claims that record before his Olympic debut, although his official amateur record is around the 250 mark). In contrast, the typical MMA fighter will have anywhere between Zero and fifteen amateur fights before turning professional. The best guys will fight in another combat sport before fighting MMA. Normally they have previously fought in Muay Thai or BJJ, however it tends to be a few times a year and most aren’t consistent. This is something that needs to change if we want to level of competition to rise.

    There are some excellent competitions out there that cater to first time fighters. Such as SMMArt in Scotland, some forms of Japanese Jujitsu competitions, SAMBO competitions and a few other striking/grappling hybrids. The hard part seems to be keeping fighters motivated to keep going after a loss. Many never compete again. Many Amateur boxers dust themselves off after a loss and go on to the next one and it’s the same with grapplers. This is in part because fighting in MMA can have much more devastating ways of losing. Knockouts and TKO’s are more common than in boxing because of the rules and gloves. MMA fighters don’t hit any harder with the smaller gloves, but the small gloves allow more punches to get through than when wearing bigger gloves, resulting in more damage taken.



    Another sad feature that is too common is the use of independent “fighters”. An independent fighter is a competitor with no supporting gym, with either very poor training or often none at all. Like Ronin before them, except way less cool.

    Many guys (has to be said I’ve never seen an independent female fighter in MMA) with too much ego and not enough sense decide to try their hand at MMA. They’ve watched the UFC enough times to understand what grappling looks like and they’re confident they can keep it standing. They message a promoter who will typically match them with a young fighter from a reputable gym. Independent fighters tend to be young guys, somewhere between 17- 20 years old and have fought plenty times outside. Their mate from down the road is their cut man, usually to be found asking other corner men how to wrap hands because they’ve never done it before. Then it comes to those final moments before they go out, their hitting pads like it’s their first day in a gym, and between rounds it dawns on them that they are about to enter a cage and fight in front of hundreds of people screaming and drunk. Every fighter feels this but the difference is the independent fighters start to realise “I haven’t got a clue what I’m doing, I’m tired and I haven’t even started!”. They are entered into the cage like lamb to the slaughter. Invariably he gets taken down and either pounded or submitted because they can’t keep it standing for long. They are used to boost someones record and improve that persons confidence, or they are used as a necessity as a last-minute replacement for a fighter that dropped out and they are needed to save a main event.

    It has to be said there is the odd good indie fighter who has either been banned from a gym or is in-between gyms. Those guys are rare and they often have lots of experience in another combat sport. I have fought an independent fighter with an extensive boxing background and gotten a sore face (and ribs) for my troubles. (Cheers Eddie)

    It is in part the promoters job to keep fighters safe and by extension not take first time fighters with no backing. It is also in part the other camps responsibility to match up fairly. In the end the only person who is truly at fault is the independent fighter themselves for getting into the cage. These guys who would not enter a BJJ tournament for fear of being submitted. Be careful what you wish for.

    Then there are the actual events themselves taking place all over the world every weekend in small venues like gym halls, churches, or social clubs. Packed with young, eager men looking to prove themselves in an unarmed combat scenario.

    Imagine you’re a first time fighter, You arrive at a small Miners Club with your coach. You spend ten minutes looking for the promoter because he’s busy running errands and keeping the show running. There is nobody there to show you where your designated warm up room is. You find him and he tells you where to go. You walk through the back of the hall to find a room 16×12 foot room with a low hanging ceiling already occupied by five guys and half of the floor is matted. One of them is already hitting pads clearly this is his second time ever making contact with them. He’s kicking pads like he’s volleying a football. The other guy is chatting away animatedly to someone on the phone. The other three guys are coaching the two fighters. You introduce yourself and pack your stuff away as far into the corner as possible. The promoter comes in with the ref, making the room even more claustrophobic, and explains briefly the rules allowed for amateur fighters. They explain how walk out will work. Someone will come out and get you, put the assigned tape around your gloves (either blue or red) and you’ll be led to the cage where Vaseline will be applied to your brows.

    You lounge about for an hour, walking around the place trying to shake the nerves out. You’ll probably see the guy you’re fighting at some point because the venue is tiny and there is only so much to do in the area (that you don’t know because it’s in the middle of nowhere). Eventually the medical rolls around. You quickly sign a sheet basically saying you are a healthy human being, sometimes they do a little physical, sometimes not, and they never ask for any blood work.

    The venue starts to fill up, and everyone seems relatively jovial, regular pub goers or members of this social club. Many with their wives or significant others. interspersed amongst these people are fighters talking to their friends, normally looking a little sulky, arms folded, some with their hands wrapped and some who are wearing shorts and a hoodie. The line for the bar is as long as the line to get into the place. You head back to your changing/warm up room to try to relax. That guy who is first up is still hitting pads, walking around, trying to shake out the nerves. You curl up in the corner and let him get on with it. He’s still looking incredibly twitchy on the pads.

    Events will almost ALWAYS run late. If a promoter says the first fight starts at 6 it will start at half 6 at the earliest. People are still buying drinks and getting settled. It really can’t be helped.

    The twitchy independent fighter is getting his hands wrapped by the other guys coach because his own corner can’t do it. Then before you know it the show is starting. You can hear the MC hyping the crowd. You can’t make out the words but you get the vibe. People are anxious to get started and see fights. The first guy is just about bricking it by now. Knowing he will be out soon. Someone comes sure enough to pick him out and bring him to the staging area. You hear the other guys music play first, cheers from his family and friends, then the guy from your corner is up. A brief minute or two between his song ending and the first screams of the crowd. A few screams from ladies, and shouts from the men. then you hear a rhythm of “wheeey… wheeey… wheey…. WHAAAAYAAAAH!” It’s almost worse imagining what’s happening than seeing it for yourself. You hear music playing briefly. After a few moments the MC announces the winner. Hard to make out but the crowd roar their approval . Five minutes later independent fighter comes back through limping like his foot is missing. He lost a TKO to leg kicks in the first two minutes. Then more music playing whilst people go and get more drinks. You’re third on the card so you get changed and start warming up. Next up is two guys from other parts of the venue. It plays out like the last one except you don’t know who won or lost.

    After a brief warm up somebody comes through and tells you to come along to the staging area. You can see the fight before yours is still being fought. You’re thinking to yourself how crazy this is. Why are you even here? These guys look way better than you. they end the round and Music is blaring and you can see their corner men yelling over the noise, trying to give their fighters advice between rounds. There is a clapping sounds declaring seconds out (ten seconds until combat resumes) and a cheer from the crowd. BOOM! Big front kick ends it all. People screaming as the winner jumps up the side of the cage, pointing to his friends and family. Once they resuscitate the unconscious fighter the music starts blaring AGAIN, drowning out everything. The ref raises the hand of the winner alongside the MCs’ commentary then everyone evacuates the cage… Your turn.

    Your opponent music plays and you see him walking out looking confident, composed and ready to go. He hugs his coaches and now they are playing a song. It’s not the music you selected when the promoter asked for it but the person who is in charge of moving you around is ushering you out. The song thing is still messing with you. How am I supposed to get pumped to whatever track this is? Too late, you’ve reached the cage door, quick hug to your coach and you remove your shirt and shoes. Vaseline is applied to your eyebrows and nose. Uncomfortably aware that this is to help avoid cuts and nose breaks, you enter the cage. The guy you’re about to throw fists at is glaring at you like you owe him money. All you can do is look calm. The ref puts you in your corner, checks you’re wearing a gum shield and cup, then he walks to the middle fo the cage, says some stuff about fighting clean, but this guy is two feet away from you giving you the death stare so the refs words become a blur. He sends you both back to your corner and waits for the cage door to close. He points at you both and tells you both to get started.

    Afterwards you’re still buzzing from the adrenaline rush, unable to take your gloves off because your hands are shaking and your lungs are still burning. You get back to the changing room and simply lie down whilst your coach talks to you and undoes your gloves, hand wraps and takes your gumshield out.

    The promoter makes a point before the fight to get the gloves back to them. You do so, he shakes your hand and you’re sent on your way, sometimes with money in your pocket. No medical because you weren’t knocked out. You can choose to stay and watch the rest of the fights or leave and get home.

    And that’s basically it. Start to finish. It varies depending on the event. My first ever fight was excellent start to finish with a full medical before and after, someone assigned to the red corner to get me anything I needed. Other times I’ve basically been on my own with my corner for the whole night, crammed into tiny rooms I can’t stand up straight in. Sometimes a matted area and sometimes not. Sometimes a big matted area to warm up in.

    Not all of these things are the promoters problem. Cramped conditions can often be because you can’t book a school hall for MMA like you can for boxing, TKD or Judo because they don’t allow drinking alcohol on those premises or they just don’t approve of MMA. This often drives them to find smaller venues willing to host a show.



    Some things are the promoters problem. Over-enthusiastic D.J’s banging out tunes in between rounds being high up on my list of pet peeves. As fighters all we can do is be grateful we have somewhere to showcase our skills. It’s not an ideal scenario but fighting in itself is incredibly chaotic and it’s only right that our events play out similarly. Amateur MMA will continue to improve and no doubt so will the shows we fight on.

    https://discussmma.wordpress.com/2017/02/22/amateur-mma-from-an-amateurs-perspective/
     
  2. Madao13

    Madao13 Valued Member

    Chadderz, I haven't started reading it yet.
    Before that I want to ask, if this site is your personal medium, you wrote this particular article or
    you just read it and thought to share?
     
  3. Pretty In Pink

    Pretty In Pink Valued Member MAP 2017 Gold Award

    I wrote it man. I'm going to put a link in my signature soon.
     
  4. aikiMac

    aikiMac "BJJ Over 40" club member Moderator Supporter

    That. Was. AWESOME. Thanks!
     
  5. Pretty In Pink

    Pretty In Pink Valued Member MAP 2017 Gold Award

    Wait what? I mean... Thanks! But I literally just wrote it and spell checked. Could have wrote more but it was getting long and late at night was tired.
     
  6. Hannibal

    Hannibal Cry HAVOC and let slip the Dogs of War!!! Supporter

    Great piece Chadderz!
     
  7. Giovanni

    Giovanni Well-Known Member Supporter

    awesome chadderz. thanks for sharing.
     
  8. Pretty In Pink

    Pretty In Pink Valued Member MAP 2017 Gold Award

    Thanks guys! This was very much a fire and forget post, next one will be better.
     
  9. SWC Sifu Ben

    SWC Sifu Ben I am the law

    Very well written man! If that's fire and forget then colour me impressed!
     
  10. SCA

    SCA Former Instructor

    Wow, that was a really good read. Thanks Chadderz!
     
  11. axelb

    axelb Master of Office Chair Fu

    A great insight to what it's like. Most people will have little idea what they can go through, it's good to have an idea about what they could be in for.
    I've never been in MMA competition, but of ski the other comps I've been in and MMA athletes I've know, the one thing I'd say is good to mention is:
    Toilets :|
    Potential queues and malfunctions which seem to happen too often in the smaller events.
     
  12. Dan93

    Dan93 Valued Member

    Good read Chadderz
     
  13. Pretty In Pink

    Pretty In Pink Valued Member MAP 2017 Gold Award

    Yeah man I missed out a fee things for sure. Toilets is actually a big one. I also didn't even begin to go over the nerves.
     
  14. Mushroom

    Mushroom De-powered to come back better than before.

    great article. wish we had a thanks button
     
  15. Mitch

    Mitch Lord Mitch of MAP Admin

    Part two to cover number twos? :D

    Great stuff, keep going!
     

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