The world of MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) is becoming more mainstream and therefore more complex on a business level. An athlete needs to treat himself like a corporation if he wants to maximize earning potential. The only way to do this is through a specific, well thought out and well implemented marketing strategy. Traditionally, there are 3 ways a fighter generates income: through professional fights, generation of sponsorship dollars, and training. Here are some things to consider when planning your MMA career:
1) Do I have to have a manager? Absolutely. A boxer’s management team must be present to schedule events, presentations, seminars, promotional parties and sponsorship coordination.
2) How much should I pay my manager? The manager usually requires around 20% – 25% of your fighter salary. Sometimes an agent is also used. An agent would deal with sponsors and coordinate with the manager on scheduling. A manager does not normally receive a salary. Wrestlers are often led by their trainer.
3) Develop an online presence. If you don’t 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 becomes an invaluable part of your marketing campaign. Promoters pay more to boxers who have a following. It only makes sense because that sells tickets. Get your name out there. Have videos uploaded. They help with traffic and give the promoter a chance to see you fight or fight. A website also gives you additional “real estate” to advertise to your sponsors. The exposure you give your sponsor, the more valuable you become.
4) Fight! Take as many meaningful fights as you can to build your record and reputation. The way to make your name known by fighting big name fighters.
5) Be a professional. Nobody likes dealing with a jerk. You are a fighter. Boxers already have a reputation for being rebellious. Set the bar a little higher. The better your behavior, the more an organization will want to affiliate with you! It just makes sense.
6) Don’t take fights you can’t win. If you ever feel like you’re not ready for a fight, don’t take it! Many promoters try to take advantage of new fighters by pitting them against people they really have nothing to do with in the ring. This is a great way to end your career before it takes off. It can be tempting to fight a big name. It’s great when you can and are prepared to do it.
7) Be a showman. Make a point to be an exciting fighter. Take it your opponent. Be the aggressor People go out to entertain themselves. The more of an artist you are, the more gigs you can expect to get.
8) Ask for the money! You spend money every day. Whether at a supplement store, deli, or dry cleaner. Anyone you spend your money with is a potential sponsor. It will give them the opportunity to repay the loyalty you have shown them as customers. Do not be shy. You are a fighter! Go get your money. Now you can sell them advertising space on your shorts, your t-shirt, your hat, your banner, and now your website! That’s a lot of exposure levels! That’s why corporations are willing to pay you, per exposure.
Doing these things will at least get you started in the right direction. The hard part is sticking to your training. Training for MMA is exhausting. It’s the guys who just don’t get hurt seem to be the ones who do. So train regularly. Don’t overtrain. Stretch and eat well. If you do all these things, at least you’ll be on the right track. So live, love your job, and be smart. This sport is growing very fast and the business side of things is still catching up. Good luck and keep fighting!