How do MMA Fight Teams Work?


What is a typical day like in any premier MMA fight gym? Are fighters just as vicious and intense in the gym as they are in the cage? We are going to do our best to shed some light on mixed martial arts fight teams, and how they work.

In the olden days, a prospective student of martial arts had to first work for a master in hopes of possibly becoming one of his students. Capitalism has since changed this business practice significantly. Today, if you want to learn a martial art or maybe several, you can take a free class and maybe sign up to become a member of a school.

Once you get a couple years of training, you can try out for a fight team. Showing heart will get you respect from the coaches and other fighters you must have. Without heart, no coach with any moral code will let you fight. Skill, power, strength, and endurance are all important aspects of fighting. Nothing trumps the heart though because you will need it more than the others in a fight.

Let’s say you have a successful amateur career fighting in local shows, but your team only has couple pros and they aren’t getting any big fights. The next step is to move on to a bigger and better gym. For loyalty reasons, let’s hope this move isn’t across town.

A popular example of a gym pro fighters from around the world run to would be Jackson/Wink MMA in Albuquerque, NM. These guys have more or less been the best MMA gym in existence, ever. They have recently opened a new facility with built in dormitories. With the addition of hundreds of pro fighters, guys living in their RV’s, and some on a ranch, you’ll feel right at home being in the presence of men and women chasing the same dream as you.

You can add the cost of the room to your training costs, and continue the journey. You could potentially fight in the UFC soon. Your coaches are still your cornermen, now you pay them with a percentage of your check. This can be 10-20% of your purse. With the recent rise in MMA fighter pay, you can see how money could possibly change your relationships with your coaches and teammates.

Fighters need to have thick skin, obviously and need to look out for themselves. They will need a good coach, manager, nutritionist, and conditioning coach, but still keep their payroll tight. With a bigger pool of talented teammates increases the odds you’ll fight one of them. If fighting is simple, everything that goes along with it is not. Let’s take a closer look at how MMA fight teams work at the highest level.


The best mixed martial arts coaches may have got their start in combat sports with one discipline, but now they are well-rounded thinkers who teach the game of MMA as a whole. Training fighters at the highest level of every discipline can’t simply be accomplished by one person. Any great leader will hire people smarter than themselves.

A top MMA team will have a head coach, strength coaches, and coaches for every discipline they teach. These coaches have to be on the same page with the MMA coach so that they do not contradict the head coach or one another. For instance, the boxing coach needs to understand kicks and takedowns so that they don’t instruct their fighter to stay heavy on his lead foot.

We revisit this potential problem on fight night in the fighter’s corner between rounds. The fighter’s Muay Thai coach calls for body kicks against a wrestler who is potentially looking for a takedown that would change the fight. There is only time for roughly 30 seconds of instruction in between rounds of a fight, so the info needs to be short, simple, and sweet. Yes, they need to hear literally a sweet calming voice.

A common mistake pro fighters make is to stop learning. “I don’t need to drill Jiu Jitsu. I know how to roll.” Or they may say “I know how to throw a Thai kick.” They have been validated by being paid to do their job, so they don’t feel the need to continually improve.

This is where a quality coach, not a “yes man”, will step in and tell the fighter the truth about their development. Some coaches may be afraid to tell a budding superstar the truth in fear that he may get his feelings hurt and take his talents elsewhere. If a fighter hasn’t forgotten their martial arts roots, they will remain an eager student for not only the duration of their fighting career but for life.


What defines a team more than its constituents? Coaches of premier fight teams are usually business owners as well, and keep their plates full of work almost all the time. Teammates become teachers and students. A strong team will always learn from each other while keeping egos in check from the start.

Iron sharpens iron, and a team is only as strong as its weakest link. Those are two timeless quotes there that will never lose their validity. The most successful MMA fight teams are filled with guys and girls with a variety of backgrounds in all disciplines of mixed martial arts. Successful fighters, of course, need exposure to as many martial arts styles as possible during their career.

Sometimes a fighter may have an opponent who has a very unique style that resembles nobody at their home gym. They can reach out to another team, but that will likely cost money and potential conflicts of interest. A good teammate will emulate a fighter’s opponent of the best of their ability. He will sacrifice himself somewhat in sparring, but that’s what teammates do for each other.

Even with the different fighters on the team coming from various backgrounds, they will undoubtedly have some similar strengths from training with one another and under the same coach. For example, Team Alpha Male in Sacramento, CA was founded by former WEC Champion Urijah Faber. His best submission has always been the guillotine choke. After only a short while, different members of his team were pulling off the submission from all angles.

The dark side of the business can rear its ugly head at the worst times though. Two fighters on the same team can obviously be chosen to fight each other. At this point, they have a choice to make. Do they violate their contract with possibly the premier organization in the world, or fight their “friend”?

Many teams already spar hard and knock each other out in the gym. What is wrong with stepping it up 10% from 90-100 to further your and your teammate’s career? Some fighters absolutely take exception to this and refuse to fight any teammate. Others see the value, maintain their professionalism, and get in the cage and scrap.

Fight teams work if the right people are doing the right jobs. It’s not unlike any other hierarchy. There cannot be too many chiefs. The head coach has to have a certain amount of leverage and power over the assistant coaches teaching singular disciplines. Teammates have to treat each other like brothers and sisters, and sometimes fight each other like only brothers and sisters can fight.


Jim Beviglia
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About Jim Beviglia
Jim Beviglia has been a gambling writer at since 2018. During that time, he’s written just about every type of article related to gambling, including reviews of betting sites, guides to popular casino games, betting tips on both casino and sports betting, sports and casino blog posts, and game picks. In addition to online gambling, one of Jim’s other major interests is music. He has been doing freelance work for various music sites and magazines for two decades. Among his outlets past and present are American Songwriter, VinylMePlease, Treble, and The Bluegrass Situation. Jim has also written five books on music that were published by Rowman & Littlefield.