How to Obtain a Professional License in Mixed Martial Arts
“How do I become a professional mixed martial artist?” The answer will vary state to state but ultimately the bottom line is you must train. When I say you must train, I don’t mean going to the gym and lifting weights or doing cardio workouts alone. I mean get in the ring and spare with boxing or kickboxing gear to get used to the striking and recovery. Also, train with grapplers who know what they are doing.
Some grapplers like to show you a technique and drill it until you have it down and come to find out that technique is actually wrong and works against you. Training with experienced mixed martial artists is always a plus and my highest recommendation. Some states used to require about three (3) years of experience. Other states might have amateur divisions and require only a few amateur fights prior to turning pro.
In any case you must go to the website of your state’s “Athletic” or “boxing” commission to find the application and list of requirements. I have obtained my professional licenses in two states now, Washington and Oregon. For Oregon I went to this site http://www.oregon.gov/OSP/GAMING/docs/osac_forms/Pro_MMA_Application.pdf and filled out the paperwork. Oregon also requires a state MMA card which the paperwork can be found for on the same site. For Washington I went to http://www.dol.wa.gov/business/athletics/martialarts.html to find the proper paperwork.
A complete athletic physical with blood work and eye exams are usually required. Due to the sport becoming a little bloody at times you must be clean of HIV/HEP B/ HEP C in order to compete. You will also be tested for illegal and performance enhancing substances. Dependant on the promoter and the state you may even be checked before or after your fights.
Completing the criteria and paperwork is a process and not all licenses are approved. I have not yet been declined so I am not certain other than for legal reasons or provoking the athletic/boxing commission that you would be declined or suspended. Turning pro is required for some states having no amateur divisions to compete in. Oregon is a state which has both and I enjoyed my time in the amateur divisions but have decided that it was time to get paid for competing in a sport that I love.
Having a good team, trainers, and manager are key to obtaining a good contract. Before every fight offers are made in writing and subject to approval by the fighter and his or her manager. This contract also has what fighters know as a “death waiver” which is standard to any competition sports in the fighting or boxing venues. Wish me luck in my professional career as a fighter. Good luck to the future competitors of the sport.