T Nation

Amateur Combat Sports

I have asked a few questions here about starting training, but I was wondering if you guys who compete could tell me about the non-training side of combat sports.

I would never want to go pro, so I was just wondering what the amateur game is like for MMA, grappling, boxing, judo etc, and what the differences are. I’m talking not in terms of training or literally “what they are”, but things like how often you compete, what the higher levels of the amateur game are and how accessible are they if you have the talent and put in the time, what kind of people get involved in them, how age dominated they are, that sort of thing.

Also, how easy it is to find decent coaching in them, and how easy it is to end up with a bad coach who doesn’t give a crap about you. Also, while this is a long, long way off, I would actually want to get involved in coaching in the future, especially kids, so any thoughts on that would be good.

The amateur game is extremely unpredictable.

1st-You can pretty much compete as often as you want. Go to mma.tv and find all the fights listed there. And that’s just the one’s listed!

2nd-It’s very hard to know what level your opponent will be, or what he actuall trains. In Indiana, for example, there is no state athletic comission sactioning MMA. Therefore the promoter can lie about your opponent’s record or his experience. He could say, “your opponent has some boxing background, but isn’t really good at anything.” The truth may be that he’s fought 50 amateur boxing matches and is a very quality boxer. You don’t know.

3rd-The way I got fights (and still get fights, I HAVE to find a manager soon) is I went to mma.tv, found the event I wanted, and contacted the promoter. Then do research on your opponent by going to fcfighter.com and sherdog.com to check his record. You can also google him to see if you can find information on his boxing, wrestling, whatever background.

Misc.-I don’t really notice much of an age domination. You just have to be 18 in Indiana I believe. A good coach is somewhat hard to find, but a good manager is much harder to find. A coach will often care about how you do because if you get beat up it makes him look like a bad coach. A manager may well not care at all, he just wants to make money. So be careful about signing things. Most amateurs are good a one aspect of the game. They will be good wrestlers (and nothing else), good kickboxers (and nothing else), or most often just tough brawlers. If you want to be successful, make sure you can deal with an opponent who pressures you straight ahead and swings wildly, because you’ll get that alot. Good luck and pm me if you need more info!

Cheers for that danew, didn’t know amateurs needed managers!

Anythoughts on the differences between MMA and the other combat sports in this resect?


Amateur boxing is a much more well developed, ran, and controlled sport. Because of various golden gloves tournaments, and the fact it is an olympic sport, it is governed much more strigently.

Amateur MMA is still largely a bar room, toughman contest in many cases. And even in the cases where it isn’t, your information on your opponent is much shakier.

This is a much bigger problem in MMA because in boxing you can do only one thing, punch your opponent. In MMA you have so many more weapons that having a decent scouting report is much more important.

Unfortunately, in Indiana, which was once a hotbed of full contact karate and american style kickboxing, those combat sports are all but extinct. I know Chicago, and other areas of Illinois, have rich areas of Muay Thai and I am really not knowledgable about their amateur competitions.

I’d recommend starting with grappling tournaments. They’re very accomodating to all levels and it’s a great way to get your feet wet as far as competing goes.

Where do you live amateur muay thai is fairly organized but doesn’t have any website type stuff.

How they run i out here in CA

Basically join a gym and a coach will take a select group of guys out to “smoker fights” those guys get matched up according to skill level and # of fights.

Those fighters move onto amateur events. Usually the same promoters (gyms) who put on smoker fights are the same promoters who will put on your first few initial amateur events because they know you.

Your manager can get you more fights and often you’ll get invited to many more and it tends to snowball after that. But basically after that you get WBC ranked or ranked by another Org and then move into pro bouts.