Your first MMA fight is a thrilling experience, but it can also be one of the most daunting challenges you have ever faced. Like any professional will tell you, the moment you step into the ring, you might as well have an extra 30 pounds of weight strapped to your back, since the stress, tension and anticipation of this first fight will take its toll and weigh you down at the same time. The more prepared you are for this first fight, the better your chances will be of making the most of the event.
If you think that the physical aspects of the fight are all that you have to prepare for, you are mistaken. When you step into an MMA ring, your mental state will have as much of an effect on the results of the fight as your physical abilities, so start off by getting your head in the game. The experts at Kentucky Martial Arts have this advice to give newcomers;
A fighter who enters the cage with anything less than total confidence, who doesn’t believe in his ability to win, will render himself vulnerable to his own insecurities.
Self-doubt can beat you faster than an experienced opponent, so if you don’t have faith in yourself, you might as well enter the ring on your back, for all that your abilities will be worth. Experienced fighters tend to build their self-confidence based on their performance in the past, but this isn’t possible with newcomers, which is why it is generally a good idea to start off by preparing effectively and believing in your training.
Start Off at a Good School
The school in which you are going to train as a fighter will impact not only your abilities, but also your mentality about fighting in general. A great teacher will build your abilities along with your confidence, but they won’t allow you to become arrogant of your abilities, or they could be opening you up to failure. Trainers should be strict, supportive and push you harder than you might have thought possible in the past, but they should never try and break you down. Dojo’s should be welcoming; there should be a sense of camaraderie in the air that will convince you to keep coming back, and without this, training simply won’t be any fun.
You can only train so much during the week, and no amount of training will prepare you for every situation imaginable, which is why your imagination needs to do a lot of the work. Many people don’t realize that a lot of the success in fighting comes from mental strategies that are thought out and practiced over and over again in someone’s mind. If you are going to be entering your first fight, you can spend time on the bus, on a train or even standing in line at a shopping center simply imagining every situation and how you might combat it in the ring. Even if you have never found yourself in this situation before, having a good idea about how you’d fight back in your head will give you an advantage.
Don’t Get Tired
The last thing you’ll want in a ring is to find that you had the skills to beat your opponent, but not the stamina. Getting tired can render your limbs useless, even if your opponent isn’t as skilled as they should have been to beat you, and this might just be one of the most frustrating things to ever happen to an experienced fighter. Make sure that you train hard enough before a big fight so that you have what it takes to keep fighting back, long after you should rightly have started to slow down. In many instances, you’ll find that this alone is enough to wear down an opponent and give you the opening you need to claim your win.
Make Sure You Know Why You Want To Win
Wanting to win isn’t going to be enough to get you through months of grueling training, not to mention seeing you through a fight that is going to take every ounce of strength and training to win. If you want motivation, you will need to take the time to find out why you want to win. What is on the line? Why are you pushing yourself so hard? As the experts at NemesonianMMA put it;
Make sure your reasons will be strong enough motivators to make you train hard and prepare well.
Keep in mind that when things get rough, you’ll need to fall back on these reasons, so make sure they’re better than, “because my ego needs a boost.”
When Are You Ready?
Knowing when you are finally ready to enter into a fight is an important facet of MMA and one that everyone needs to take very seriously. A coach is generally the one who should make this decision and they should be experienced enough to make it based on sound logic and years of training.
Focus on the Fight
In the months working up to the fight, this should be your main focus. Joey Alvarado described it this way;
When training this much, there is little time for anything else; almost everything else takes a back seat to the training.
Many professionals take to training about two or three times a day, and they focus on nothing more than preparing their bodies and their minds for the fight ahead. It is during this time that issues such as self-doubt or a weak right hook might surface and fighters need to deal with them before the big day. Demands from loved ones, jobs or even hobbies could end up swaying a fighter off course, which is why it is important to maintain focus. In the end, this focus is going to serve a fighter very well in the ring, and training is all a part of building this mental clarity and fortitude.
Training for a big fight isn’t all glamour and Rocky music; it is about hard work, determination and a continuous pursuit for perfection. Anyone willing to give anything less might as well throw in the towel and go home.