Chingasos MMA Writer, Editor and Talent Scout
So you're looking to fight amateur MMA or maybe you've fought amateur MMA already. I've written about my experience already leading up to my first amateur fight under CAMO (California Amateur Mixed Martial Arts Organization), the sanctioning body for amateur MMA in California. You can find that article here: Road to The Fight Academy Cage
Fighting in the cage, however, has another aspect, the business side. The promoter is looking to make as much money as possible. You, on the other hand, will be fighting for free. Not only that, the promoters are charging quite a lot of money for people to go watch you fight. In the MMA events I have fought at, ticket prices have started at $35 (plus fees) for standing room only to $75 for VIP. There are some MMA promotions that charge even much more. In fact, I have seen promotions charge $150 for tickets!
To add to all of this, you'll be doing a lot of the promoting. Amateur MMA event promoters expect you to sell tickets. They depend on you, the MMA fighter, to sell tickets. You'll be telling your friends, family and teammates about your fight. The promoter will be expecting you to let them all know in person and through social media.
Just as the promoters are looking to protect their finances, you need to look out for yourself as well. While you are an amateur and promoters are not allowed to pay you, you can still look out for yourself within the framework of the CAMO rules. You or your coach/representative needs to talk to the MMA promoter about the following CAMO rules .
*****303. Amateur Status.
No person shall appear as a contestant in any amateur MMA contest who has or will receive any compensation or reward from the promoter of such contest in any form, except for actual travel and hotel expenses, and/or a per diem not exceeding $100 per day, or trophies, for competing in MMA contests.
While the promoter has expenses, you, the fighter, do as well. Under the rules, you can be compensated for your hotel, if you need one, and you are allowed to be compensated for your travel expenses. You will have other expenses the day of the fight. Under CAMO rules, the promoter can compensate you $100 for these expenses.
*****304. Limitations on Value of Trophies.
Except as provided in Section 303, only a trophy may be given to each contestant in any amateur MMA contest, but provided the value of such trophy does not exceed the sum of five hundred dollars ($500). No portion of an admission fee or fees charged or received for any MMA contest shall be paid or given, either directly or indirectly, to a contestant in connection with an event he/she is competing in, including without limitation, any commission on ticket sales for an event he/she is competing in.
*****305. No Payment to Amateur Indirectly – Expenses Allowed
Unless the written permission of CAMO is first obtained, it is strictly forbidden for any promoter to pay or cause to be paid to any coach, trainer, or representative of any amateur mixed martial artist participating in a contest, any sum of money other than the actual traveling and per diem expenses incurred by such coach, trainer, or representative and amateur mixed martial artists in traveling to and from their respective residences to the MMA contest in an amount to be approved by CAMO. For purposes of clarification, a coach, trainer or representative of an amateur mixed martial artist shall be permitted to receive a reasonable commission on any tickets they sell to an event, provided such commission is paid in connection with their services as a ticket seller as opposed to being compensation in connection with the participation of any athlete competing on such event.
These two rules together don't allow for commissions to be paid to you, the fighter. Yet, the promoter will be expecting you to promote the event. However, your coach, trainer, or representative can be paid a reasonable commission. You'll be busy getting ready for your fight. Let someone else in your camp take care of any ticket sales. A 10% commission should be the minimum, but a 25% commission would still be reasonable. Remember, the promoter is doing a lot of work but so is anyone in charge of selling tickets. Anyone selling tickets should therefore receive a commission.
Speaking of tickets. The promoter can and should give you tickets or wristbands for your closest family members. It doesn't have to be, and probably can't be many, but the promoter should give you some. You are already fighting for free. You shouldn't have to pay for your closest family members to go watch you fight.
A fight is a fight. Modern day MMA, on the other hand, is also entertainment and it is definitely a money making opportunity. Promoters will have no problem making sure that their finances are taken care of, so make sure that your finances are taken care of as much as you can as an amateur.