How To Get Signed By the UFC…

 

I have been scouting and watching MMA prospects for many years now. I am always happy when a fighterufcthat I have scouted and watched makes it to the UFC. Over the years I have been scouting prospects I have encountered many who are frustrated by the seeming lack of UFC interest in them. Sometimes it seems odd who UFC is interested in and who they are not. Sometimes it seems inconsistent.  In the midst of watching who the UFC signs and who struggles to get there I have found some things to be true.  Below I outline the pathway for any prospect to get to the UFC.

  1. Fight in the right promotion – One of the things that a fighter should consider is what regional promotion they fight for.  Not all regional promotions are equal in the eyes of the UFC.  UFC has signed fighters from a wide variety of promotions, but it is abundantly clear that when they sign guys they like RFA, Legacy, and Cage Warriors best.  Not every fighter can get to one of those promotions.  If those promotions are not possible, any of the Fight Pass streamed promotions are not a bad place to start.  UFC has friendly relationships with many of these promotions and if you fight there it is easier to garner attention from the UFC.  Winning a RFA (now LFA) title means something.  Winning a Jungle Fight title means something.  Winning a title in a small Midwest promotion doesn’t hold the same value even if the level of competition is equal.  My point is that if you have a choice between two promotions chose the one that sends the most fighters to the UFC.
  2. Have the right management  – Management matters.  I am not going to say that most managers cannot get a guy to the UFC, but there certainly seem to be some managers who have better success of getting the attention of UFC matchmakers.  They may not intentionally do it, but I am guessing UFC is likely to sign fighters from managers that they like (or who are easy to work with).  I have seen several very good fighters struggle to get to the UFC and many times it is a problem with bad management.  If you want to get to the UFC, sign with a manager who has a good relationship with the UFC and a proven track record of getting deals done.
  3. Train at the right camp – Fighters are in the UFC from big camps and little camps.  However, there are certain gyms that UFC seems to look to more often.  Perhaps it is because those gyms have proven track records themselves.  However, if you are a good prospect at Team Alpha Male, Jackson-Winklejohn, American Top Team, Serra-Longo, Tristar, Alliance or the Lab your chances go up a ton of getting a call.  How many fighters has UFC signed because they train with Conor McGregor at SBG?  Would UFC have trained Charlie Ward if he trained at some random Midwest gym?  I doubt it.  I would wager that there are equally as talented fighters training at smaller gyms who do not get looked at as fast.  On a different note: I do not think it is a bad idea to train at one of the better gyms if you want to be an elite fighter.
  4. Your nationality matters – It shouldn’t, but it does.  In this instance, I do not think being American necessarily helps.  This may depend on where UFC is looking to expand.  Many times you can tell where UFC is focusing their business based off of what prospects they sign.  When UFC goes to a different country often times they like to sign local talent.  When there is an upcoming card in Canada, it does not hurt to be a Canadian prospect.  When there is an upcoming Australian card, it does not hurt to be Australian.  Many foreign fighters have been signed earlier than they would have if they were American.  The problem is that you can’t control your nationality.
  5. Be ready for injury replacement – For many prospects the best path to the UFC is through a late notice injury replacement.  Often times that opportunity will even be up a weight class.  If you are willing to take fights like that, it helps your chances.  I am sure that if you are a prospect looking to get into the UFC you can put your name out there to the UFC matchmakers and let them know that you will fight anyone at anytime.  Also, stay ready.  I have know of fighters who want to get into the UFC that have turned down one too many late notice fights that it costs them later.
  6. Stay active – I have seen that it helps if you are fighting often.  The more you fight and win the more attention and buzz you will create.
  7. Finish Fights – I have seen some fighters who have a low finish rate get passed over by UFC.  I have seen a fighter or two, who have fought top tiered competition outside the UFC, not get the call, while a fighter with impressive finishes against lesser competition does get the call.  It seems that level of competition matters less than how impressive you win.  I would not suggest that you pad your record fighting weak opposition, but fighting to finish is important to getting to the UFC.
  8. Build a Following – Several fighters have gotten to the UFC because they built a following.  Conor McGregor is the perfect example.  He built a following in UK and Ireland.  Other fighters have done well at this through their regional promotions.  Become a fan favorite in your region and it only helps.  Use Twitter and social media to build your fan base.   If you do that, when UFC comes to a city near you, it will be hard not to put you on the card.
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