| August 31, 2016 | 0 Comments



Does anyone have the answer to this question? There seems to be two popular theories that I’ve encountered over the past 12 years or so. Within those theories, there are even sublet situations in which the fighter can even make a difference for both arguments.

In all the years I’ve been involved in MMA, I’ve been blessed to have trained with some of the best trainers and athletes in the world. Among them, some of the best managers and promoters in the country. One common question is always discussed many times over the years by students of the sport. “How do i get into the UFC?”

We’ll discuss two “ways” or “Scenarios” in which you could find yourself getting into the UFC. The first being the more popular adage, and the second being a “New School” approach to garnering attention by the UFC. Hear these theories out and vote below in the poll to find out what the rest of New England thinks.

Option #1  Steel Sharpens Steel

The “Steel Sharpens Steel” approach. This approach is the most obvious and at first glance makes the most sense commonly. Assuming you’ve established yourself a bit in the professional division, You begin to take the tough fights, and each fight increase the difficulty of the fight. Eventually your fighting the #1’s and #2’s in the division every fight. Ive always said, If you cant be the best in your own region, you’ll never be the best on the national stage. Chuck O’Neil made the statement a little over a year ago…” I dont want to just get back to the UFC. I want to get there and win”.

For most fighters the goal has been to just get to the UFC. What good does it get you if you can not win when you get there? The “steel sharpens steel” approach prepares you for just that. Fighting the toughest guys in your region prepares you for that next level competition. The same reason why sometimes moving on to other camps when you’ve reached a certain level makes sense for some people. You never want to be the best fighter in your gym. Constantly push yourself against better opposition. Enough wins over the best in the area will get you noticed for sure. But, Is your longevity at risk once you get to that level now that you’ve put yourself through all that?


Option #2  The Liberal Approach

The far more liberal approach. This option most recently came to light over this past year to me from one of the most skilled managers I’ve gotten to know. Not quite the opposite approach as option #1 but more simple guided, and meant for longevity in the sport and easier on the mind. I liken the approach to a holistic approach to healing a wound rather than just taking medicine if you know what I mean. Lets take a look at what MMA is about and what it can do to our psyche, to our bodies and how it effects us emotionally.

They say MMA is 90% mental and 10% physical. Its true! So developing your mind and stregthening your mind must be more important that your body, no? Not exactly, However its very important to be strong mentally and it can be a trained attribute. Fighting has many mental parts. Camps can be grueling, promoting fights gets emotional at times, balancing schedules for training, work, family and everyday chores gets extremely difficult to find a happy medium. Someone or something always suffers and leaves you with a heavy heart. Now enter the idea of option #1 into this fold and think about how stressful and demanding a top tier fight can be. Now quadruple that, because in option #1 you have no breaks. Its the toughest fight of your life, one after another, after another. Fighting is emotionally taxing and yes, 90% of the fight is emotional. Imagine doing this 8 straight fights to rip off a tear to get noticed by the UFC. Thats two years of stress, emotional fights, and beating on your brain and body in a non physical way. Lets say you make it to the UFC. Does it get any easier? No! only worse. Every opponent is your equal or better. Every fight could be your last. Your ticket back to the regional circuit.

Lets add to this one unavoidable situation that pertains to our community in general (if choosing Option #1). Let me first start by saying, Our community (New England) is very unrepresented at the national level and in the UFC. Why? Because we are eliminating each other from moving on to the next level. Competing against other top tier talent in your community is acting as a “cock-block” to the UFC rather than building a pipeline there. “They” say, you must go on a 6 or 7 fight win streak to get noticed. Well, if your at your 5th win in a row and then you fight the #1 guy and lose, your starting all over. You’ve lost your chance to the next level and albeit to the guy that just defeated you. Why not continue your streak against someone slightly that looks good on paper but you’d most likely be the favorite in a betting line, rather than submitting to what the fans want to see. At this level, your not getting paid enough to fight the fights that the fans want to see. Its time to be selfish and fight the fights that will get you paid first. The problem is the goal of Option #2 is in stark contrast of the promoters and some fans.

So what is the suggestion? How do we get to the UFC with less emotional stress and a more sound and stable mind? How do we do it without defeating the other talented “worthy” fighters in your division?Take winnable fights. Take winnable fights against experienced veterans, and then in-between test yourself against one of the best. Dont make every fight the hardest, most stressful fight of your career over and over again. give yourself a break in-between. Fight that “looks good on paper” fighter after fighting an undefeated up-and-comer. Its a boxing approach I hastefully admit. Not “padding” your record by any means but being careful with your options, with your health in consideration. Fight the #15 ranked fighter, then the number 5, then back to a slightly above average local fighter, and then back to another tough fight. This gives you control over your emotions, and your stress. This option allows for not only the less emotional, less stressful approach but is a strategic approach to creating a pipeline to the UFC and helping the top talent achieve their goals and make some money.

Lets take a look at some of the regions top fighters to make examples of each scenario.

JohnHoward_HeadshotJohn Howard  -(Click link to Tapology fight record)  -Option #2

John has had an excellent career and the way he strted his career and got himself into the UFC is a result of Option #2. You’ll see that John was able to rip off 5 straight wins prior to his first loss to Alexandre Moreno, The #1 in the region at the time. after the loss John returned to fight a much easier less stressful fight, then back into the heat again. John played this method until shortly thereafter, he was called up to the UFC. It wasnt the fights against 15-2, 12-0, 10-1 opponents that got John noticed, but his consistency to win and when he got comfortable winning, the tougher fights became easier for him as his confidence would rise. John proved again the same method could work after his initial release from the UFC, John returned to CES and won 6 of his last 7 fights against opponents with records of 16-11, 1-1, 16-10, 6-5. again Howard returned to the UFC.

#1 Ranked Amateur Featherweight In New England Kyle Bochniak

Kyle Bochniak  -Option #2

Is there any greater example than Kyle Bochniak? Kyle was 6-0 locally before getting the call to the UFC. His biggest win was a win over 5-4 Taylor Trayhan. Bochniak never had a stress ridden fight leading into his UFC debut where he took UFC veteran Charles Rosa the distance losing on the score cards. His next bout, A win over Enrique Barzola.



lauzonJoe Lauzon – Option #1

Maybe the greatest example for Option number 1 is Joe Lauzon. Lauzon was seasoned far before his first UFC bout and before he even turned 21 years of age. The longtime UFC veteran was beating future UFC veterans and WEC champions before he had entered the worlds biggest stage. Thus, prepared for that level well before he needed to be.


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