How Many Amateur MMA Fights Should I Have Before Turning Pro?
#1 August 15, 7:30 pm
How Many Amateur MMA Fights Should I Have Before Turning Pro?

How Many Amateur MMA Fights Should I Have Before Turning Pro?

This is a question that is asked quite often by amateur MMA fighters. Our goal by creating this article, was to get various industry professionals' opinions on this subject. We compiled some great responses to this topic and we hope you find this information useful.

Thank you to all the contributors that helped us put this great resource of information together. If you feel that you have something you would like to add, comment or contribute to this topic, please feel free to post it on this thread.

How many amateur MMA fights should I have before turning pro?

The pro game is vastly different. Many fighters take the bare minimum of required amateur bouts, against inferior competition, so as to pad their record. Then they wonder why they are not successful as a pro fighter.

Technically, when you are a professional fighter, you want the best match-ups and the greatest amount of money. In our sport, I truly believe that you cannot assess a fighter, unless they have faced adversity.

Sometimes winning fights conceals deficiencies. Therefore you should test your abilities as an amateur, so as to grow and improve on your flaws. I would much rather book a fighter who was 7-3 as an amateur, that fought stiffer competition, instead of a 10-0 fighter who fought weaker opponents.

Of course, I am speaking in generalities. For example, my suggestions would not apply to someone who was an All American wrestler.

Mike Camp

How many amateur MMA fights should I have before turning pro?

This is a great question, one I'm asked all the time, and I know just about everyone who's been in MMA has been asked at one time or another.

There is no "set" answer to this question, in my opinion, as too many factors need to be taken into consideration. In a nutshell, I personally don't think a person should step into the pro-ring until they've trained for at least 2 years in at least one, if not more, of the martial arts systems that make up MMA. Next, they need to get involved in 3-6 exhibition fights, just to get used to being in the ring. This can easily be accomplished by competing with area-wide schools. After about 3-6 months, then start fighting on the amateur circuit and see how you do. After another 6 months, and 5-6 more ammy fights...then start thinking about going pro and talk to your trainers. Go get a couple more fights under your belt and see how you do. After all that, if you're still around and want to go pro, you'll at least have trained for 3 years, and had a total of approximately 12-14 fights. I wouldn't recommend anything less.

So many people are jumping in on the MMA-bandwagon nowadays, but they just aren't taking the time to develop their skills. They see pro-fighters and think "I can do looks so easy!" But what they don't understand is that it looks easy because that pro has been training for 8+ years in martial arts, and had 30+ amateur fights!

If a person has just started training in one or more of the martial arts systems that make up MMA, and they've only been doing so for 3 months, and then they have 2-3 ammy fights and do well - all of a sudden they're ready to go pro! I don't think this is a good idea, as it's hard to judge your ability in the ring, based on 3 months of training and a couple of fights.

But if a person has been practicing martial arts for 3 years, and has 2-3 fights and does well, while I still think it's too early for them to then step into the pro-circuit, I feel this type of fighter can better judge his/her abilities and together with their trainer, make the decision to go pro.

Don't be in such a rush to go pro that you don't develop good skills, and end up getting wiped out early in your career. Take your time. Train Alot. Then see the above!

Katrina Belcher
ELITE MMA Referees

How many amateur MMA fights should I have before turning pro?

The answer to this question truly lies in the quality of skills, age, and professional level athleticism of the fighter in question. Take for instance amateur fighter turning professional, Andres Aleman ( 4-0 ammy, Miami, FL, American Top Team - Doral). Andres was a 3 time HS State wrestling champion, Olympic level powerlifter, and multiple jiu jitsu tournament winner that includes the NAGA World Champion at 125lbs. Andres is under the tutelage of UFC fighter Thiago Silva, and his brother Christopher Silva, both BJJ black belts. Andres obviously doesn't need 10, or 20 amateur fights before earning money doing what he was born to do. He claimed the sought after TWC 125 amateur title by dispatching of a 10-3 fighter, and defended it against an 11-0 opponent. Andres is only 20 years old.

An opposite example is 1-1 professional fighter Dequan "The Tarantula" Townsend. Dequan competed over 30 times as an amateur, and spent most of that time winning all but 6 bouts. Dequan has always been a GIANT welterweight that cuts nearly 30lbs to compete. He has always been a devastating striker, but needed more time to develop a suitable ground game in order to take the next step. As soon as he defeated one of the most prolific grapplers know in Michigan by reverse triangle, the time had come to start getting paid. Dequan is 27 years old.

These two examples are perfect for the situation this question creates. You have to study, and train with successful professional MMA fighters in order to gauge your competitiveness as a professional fighter.
Here in Michigan, amateur MMA is not regulated. Some consider the atmosphere here a "free for all".

This unregulated, but large MMA market opens the doors for fighters to fight every weekend if they wish. There are easily 50 'promoters' in Michigan, and 3-5 amateur events every weekend across the State. Being an unregulated market, a lot of amateur promotions allow UFC rules, including elbow strikes. A lot of the fighters that train and fight in Michigan are experienced in the highest level of competition in the cage. I'm not making a case for this being a positive atmosphere, I'm just stating the facts. However, with the lack of high-end initial training such as what Mr. Andres Aleman has been fortunate enough to receive, the cage experience is how the fighters compensate here.

In addition, opportunities for Michigan fighters to fight professionally here are few and far between. The legislation that governs professional MMA here makes it very expensive for both the promoter, and the fighters, which limits pro events to a mere 3 per year if we are lucky. That's why you'll see a lot of Michigan amateur fighters fight 20, 30, and even 50+ times prior to making a professional debut.
In conclusion, the number of amateur bouts a fighter has prior to becoming professional is normally a product of their environment.

Dru Gardner, professional MMA matchmaker
Total Warrior Combat (TWC)

How many amateur MMA fights should I have before turning pro?

Becoming a professional in any industry requires a certain level of education and preparation. The more prepared you are at anything. The more you are apt to succeed.
MMA is no different. It is impossible to put a number on how many Amateur fights one needs to properly prepare themselves to be a successful Professional.

The advantage of being an Amateur is it allows one to determine their weaknesses and develop their skill set in a competitive and somewhat safe environment. It allows one to grow at their own pace. One can learn from their mistakes as an Amateur so they can avoid them as a Pro.

We are often asked this question by many who have participated in our events.

Our answer is always the same. Aspiring athletes should take the opportunity to challenge themselves against the best Amateurs his or her weight class has to offer. They should maximize the opportunity to develop their talents as Amateurs and challenge themselves to learn and grow from the experience. They should expose themselves to all the intangibles one faces. Both inside and outside of the Cage.
When their able to successfully compete against the top Amateurs in their region, they will find themselves better prepared to successfully compete at the next level.

Finally, one should not allow Promoters, State Officials, Sanctioning Bodies, or Friends to influence such a decision. It should be a mutual agreement reached by the fighter and his/her trainers.

R. Scott Morgan
President / CEO
CMTM, LLC, d/b/a;
New Breed Fighters

How many amateur MMA fights should I have before turning pro?

At Body Architecture MMA (BA MMA), we offer a very customized approach for each client in progressing to their pro MMA career, based on our general internal guidelines. We prefer our fighters to have about ten amateur fights before they consider pro fights. We start with evaluating their strengths and weaknesses, we work on a general fight strategy for the individual, then when they show they have done the work we start scheduling them in some grappling events. They will have to do anywhere from 3 to 5 or even more grappling tournaments until they demonstrate the ability to handle themselves on the mat. If you are not comfortable in a grappling tournament, a cage is only going to be worse.

While ten is a nice round number, it also gives you the opportunity to explore your skills in the cage before it really counts on your record. One of the most important aspects is that you surround yourself with a team and management that helps you get good match-ups, looks out for your best interests and helps you identify the training regimen (including proper weight management) that will help you do your best. You don’t want “gimme” fights and you don’t want to be the “meat”, neither will give you a good learning experience. Taking a short notice fight is a really bad idea. While the “W” is nice, you need your amateur fights to be learning experiences. Make sure you are matched up against fighters with different styles so that you can become versatile and well rounded.

From having experience in cornering and wrapping hands I can tell you a lot about who is prepared and is not. I will never schedule a fight for anyone who doesn’t put in the work I, or our coaches tell them to put in. If you have every excuse in the world why you can’t train tonight, put on a fan tee shirt and buy a ticket to watch. Being a fighter takes dedication and perseverance. Everyone has problems, what will set you apart is your ability to show up and train despite your problems.

I will never ask you to fight, you need to tell me you want to fight. If you are waiting for a coach to tell you how great you are, you may be standing there for a long time. You have to want it and have the courage to speak up and say you want a fight. That demonstrates that you may have what it takes to get in the ring.

Also, don’t be the loser who takes a fight and then backs out. There is nothing more irritating than unprofessionalism—backing out of a fight, not showing up, or not showing up on weight. You know what weight you signed up for, be on it. If you expect people to respect you, be someone that is respectable.

There’s a lot that goes into fighting, and it isn’t for everyone. That’s okay. Don’t sign up for a fight until you are sure you are ready. But if you are up for the challenge, there is nothing like the thrill and excitement of the cage and my most important advice for you there is-- never let them see you coming and never leave it in the hands of the judges.

Finish your fights.

Lori Henderson, MS
Body Architecture MMA & Personal Training

How many amateur MMA fights should I have before turning pro?

Many states are answering this question for the fighters as Florida requires 5 fights, South Carolina requires 6 fights and a 75% win ratio, while others have no requirements what so ever.

I believe the key questions to consider is "Are my skills at a level to complete with other professional?" This is something that should be answered by an objective third party, such as a coach, trainer or manager.

It is not the number of fights, but the quality of your skills. If you find yourself being the top skilled fighter at your gym, seek to do a one or two week training camp at one of the top gyms in the country that have UFC, Strikeforce or Bellator fighters training there. You need to really test your skills.

This will help you truly determine where you are at and if you are ready for the next level. A less expensive route would be to research the top pros in your state and seek to train at their gyms for a period of time, again giving you the opportunity to define your current level against the best in your state.

Wishing you the best in your Quest for Glory,

Michael Amos
Quest for Glory Championship President

How many amateur MMA fights should I have before turning pro?

It varies by state. Some states have certain rules and guidelines you must follow. Here at our school, it depends on your training and how your fights go. We like to have our fighters do 5 amateur fights, then we can sit down and discuss the future of the fighter. We analyze their performance, where they would like to go in the sport and what needs to be done to get them to the next level.

I have been around amateur and professional fighting for many years. Anyone that turns pro after just a few fights, is really flirting with disaster and is going to get hurt. There is a huge difference between the two and also the approach that some fighters take in fighting. Being mismatched or over-matched can happen too easily at the pro level.

When pro fighters look across the cage, they see in their mind another pro who should be capable of defending themselves and able to handle fighting at that level. Not all opponents are. Which is no place to be, if you aren't capable and have the experience needed.

I say train hard, take your time and work your game. If you are part of a great team or school listen to your coaches, they will help you get to the next level.

Ed Carr
Team Link Hooksett

"How many amateur MMA fights should I have before turning pro?".

When asked this question by a fighter, I respond with questions of my own. There are a lot of things that contribute to the decision of "going pro"; talent, experience and skill are just the beginning. I want to know about the fighter, before I can give a good answer.

Something I value is maturity as well, a lot of people don't talk about it but there is more to this sport than keeping your hands up and hitting the other guy harder. The easiest answer to give is whatever the State and league will allow.

My advice is to have a team of people with experience in the MMA industry, that can realistically evaluate your readiness to compete at the pro level. You can't answer this question with a standard 5 fights; because even then you can break it down by asking about wins, losses, decisions or how much experience the other fighters had.

Let's break down what "pro" means. The dictionary uses these words to describe professional: expert, accomplished, skillful, masterly,masterful, fine, polished, skilled, proficient,competent, able, experienced, practiced,trained, seasoned, businesslike. If after a few fights those are the adjectives people would use to describe your skill then maybe you're ready.

There is a commitment to being a professional anything and going pro isn't' something that should be taken lightly or mainly for the financial aspects. Be realistic about your skills. Find people who really do care about you and not just about the money you might be able to bring in. If your name (rep) warrants an offer to fight pro, then maybe you should start considering it. If you're just getting into the game and are already looking for money and sponsors, you might be in for a rough ride.

Good luck out there!

Elvis A. Lossa
The Lossa Agency

How many amateur MMA fights should I have before turning pro?

I think an amateur should have at least 5 to 10 fights before turning pro. In the beginning the first 1-3 fights will tell you if fighting (organized) is something that you enjoy. The next 4-6 fights should begin to tell you if you can compete amongst others in your weight class and if the weight class is right for you. The remaining fights should begin to challenge your skill set and develop your mind as a fighter.

Ideally, I think an amateur fighter should take as many fights as they can to find all these things out. Be systematic in building your amateur career. It will become the foundation for your success.

It's crucial when you reach that final stage (6 and above) that you begin to challenge yourself. If you hear about a great fighter five cities over, go get a fight with her/him. Continue to find opponents that will test your skills, heart and endurance.

On the professional stage people will have expectations about your performance. Make sure you have encountered as many challenges as you can as an amateur (height, reach, even weight differences), so when you do finally make that leap from amateur to pro you have experience to draw from.

Taking time to manage your amateur career will give you the tools to be successful as a pro. Give yourself time to grow before making the leap because once you jump there's no turning back.

Danielle D. Cartier
DInfamous Productions / Freestyle Fight League

How many amateur MMA fights should I have before turning pro?

Turning Pro isn't a numbers game. Some guys are ready after only a couple of fights and some guys need 10 amateur fights or more.

The most important thing is being committed as a Pro. Once you cross that line, there is no going back. Pro is about more than additional time and damage, it is about a lifestyle of training.

True Pro fighters train with more intensity than the average amateur realizes they are capable of doing. If a fighter feels they are ready to turn Pro without having a deep MMA record, they need to have extensive experience in one of the disciplines.

A very experienced college wrestler, boxer, Muay Thai fighter, or Jits tournament champion may be ready to turn pro after only 2 or 3 fights. It is very rare that you get a fighter with the experience to turn pro in 2 or fewer fights.

So if you think that is you, go to a major camp for a few weeks and see where you stand with high level pros. Remember, there is no going back from Pro.

Make Pro Choices.

Eric Batchler

How many amateur MMA fights should I have before turning pro?

I believe that no matter how accomplished a individual might be, (Wrestling, Boxing, Kicboxing, Thai, BJJ) or just a pure athlete. The fighter should be exposed to the full game of MMA.They cannot do that through just a couple of fights.

Even as a coach seeing that your fighter is capable of moving up from the amateur level he or she should have at least 10 fights with a winning record. Before exposing them to have a real chance of being seen in the True PRO world of MMA!

Perry Gibson
Head Coach Tech Top Team
Christiansburg / Blacksburg VA.

How many amateur MMA fights should I have before turning pro?

It all depends on the fighter. Green fighters need much more exposure to competition, then fighters who have been doing tournaments since they were 5 years old.

Some fighters just get the minimum amount of exposure before they go pro, so that people don't have tape on them. They have been training their whole lives and waiting for the exact moment to reach the allowable age.

Other fighters are just getting into it and need to get more amateur fights. Again, it depends on the fighter.

Daniel Blevins
Gator MMA

How many amateur MMA fights should I have before turning pro?

I believe a fighter should fight as many amateur fights as possible, to develop a good base for MMA. There are so many elements to learn boxing, kicking, wrestling, jui jitsu, grappling, and ground-and-pound.

The fighter then should only be promoted to pro if he or she is on a winning cycle. Another element of training, is having the fighter and coach on the same page about the fighter's future.

So, there is no number of when to turn pro. It's simply when the fighter has developed enough to move up to the next level of pro status.

Mark Cook
Cooks Impact of MMA 

"How many amateur MMA fights should I have before turning pro?".

This question is very subjective based on the fighter's ability. As a rule, we require no less than five amateur MMA fights and the fighter must have a winning record.

Brock Kull, Jake Moore, Greg Hall
Cold Steel Promotions

How many amateur MMA fights should I have before turning pro?

As a trainer/manager I recommend that students have 10 amateur fights before turning professional.  There is always exceptions, but that is a rule of thumb that we use.

Lawrence Patrick
Gold Dragon MMA

How many amateur MMA fights should I have before turning pro?

It really depends on the fighter, but in some cases I'd say just 3 fights. Often, I don't see much of a difference regarding the skill level of some pros, as compared to a good amateur.

The career span of a MMA fighter is generally short. You might as well get paid to take all the abuse of training and fighting!

Tim Mousel
Mousel's Mixed Martial Arts Academy

How many amateur MMA fights should I have before turning pro?

Amateur fighters should have between 4-8 fights, depending on their level of their elite practitioner. College/Olympic Wrestler- on the short end. Young MMA Fighter fighting on the local level, should be around 10-15 fights.

Donald J Royer Sr
US Elite Combat

How many amateur MMA fights should I have before turning pro?

It all depends on the quality of the guys you fought, but a good rule of thumb is 10 amateur fights before turning pro. 

Ron Dayley
SSF Submission Academy

How many amateur MMA fights should I have before turning pro?

Obviously varies, but as soon as a fighter shows that he has other amateurs overmatched, ... IT'S TIME!

Gregory Rush

How many amateur MMA fights should I have before turning pro?

I would not turn any fighter pro without the minimum of 100 amateur bouts, kick boxing , boxing , MMA, etc.

Ray Rivera
Senshi Tori MMA

How many amateur MMA fights should I have before turning pro?

In West Virginia, the rules state that a fighter must have at least 8 "Sanctioned" amateur MMA bouts (w/ a winning record) before being granted a Professional license.

Stephen Simons

How many amateur MMA fights should I have before turning pro?

I believe this varies from fighter to fighter. In my opinion, there is always an "X Factor". No matter how much you train, you just never know how you will do or what your opponent brings to the table.

This shouldn't put fear into the fighter. If you feel that in your heart you are ready for the big leagues, I say jump right in.

Blue Fedora

How many amateur MMA fights should I have before turning pro?

"Its about quality not quantity"

Joshua Harding

How many amateur MMA fights should I have before turning pro?

The answer to this question depends on the relationship the fighter has with his trainer. If the fighter trusts his trainer and the trainer is experienced, the fighter should follow the career plans of his trainer. If not, the fighter should get another trainer.

Don Giovanni
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#3 November 9, 9:02 pm
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