The world of MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) is becoming more mainstream and therefore more complex at a business level. An athlete must treat himself or herself as a corporation if he or she wants to maximize his or her income potential. The only way to do this is through a specific, well-designed and properly implemented marketing strategy. Traditionally, there are 3 ways for a fighter to generate revenue: through professional fighting, sponsorship dollar generation, and training. Here are a few things to consider when planning your career in MMA:
1) Should I have a manager? Definitely. There should be a fighter management team to schedule events, appearances, seminars, publicity parties, and sponsorship coordination.
2) How much should I pay my manager? They usually need about 20% – 25% of their fighter salary. Sometimes an agent is also hired. An agent would deal with sponsors and coordinate with the manager on scheduling. A manager usually does not receive a salary. Fighters often manage their trainers.
3) Develop an online presence. If you do not have a website and a MySpace account. Make that happen. MySpace is a great networking tool. Having a website that highlights your fights, training and contact information is a valuable piece of your marketing campaign. Promoters pay more to fighters who have the following. It only makes sense because that sells tickets. Find out a name then. Have a video upload. They help with traffic and allow a promoter to watch you sparring or fighting. A website also gives you an extra “real estate” to advertise your sponsors. The more exposure you give to a sponsor, the more valuable you become.
4) Fight! Accept as many fights as make sense to build your record and reputation. The way to get your name by fighting reputable fighters.
5) Be professional. No one likes to deal with a jackass. You are a fighter. Fighters are already known for being inappropriate. Set the bar a little higher for yourself. The better your behavior, the more an organization wants to match you! It just makes sense.
6) Don’t take fights you can’t win. If you ever feel like you’re not ready to fight, don’t take it with you! Many promoters try to take advantage of new fighters by pitting them against people who really have no business. This is a great way to end your career before it even begins. It can be tempting to fight a big name. It’s great when you can and are willing to do that.
7) Be in your show. Make a point to be an exciting fighter. Take it to your opponent. Be the attacker. People come out to entertain. The more you perform, the more performances you would expect to receive.
8) Ask for the money! You spend money every day. Be it a supplement store, deli or dry cleaning. Anyone you spend your money with is a potential sponsor. It will allow them to return to the loyalty you have shown them as a customer. Don’t be shy. You are a fighter! Go get your money. Now you can sell them advertising space on your shorts, shirt, hat, banner and now your website! That’s a lot of exposure level! That’s why corporations are willing to pay you, for disclosure.
By doing these things, at least you will start in the right direction. The hard part is adhering to your training. Training on MMA is grim. It seems that the people who are hurt are just the people who do it. So train regularly. Do not overtrain. Stretch and eat properly. Doing all these things will at least get you started on the right path. So live, love your job, and be smart. This sport is growing so fast and the business side of things is still catching up. Good luck and keep fighting!