So You Want To Be A F@*&In’ Fighter? Rule 4 – Know What You’re In For


You made it. You stayed in the gym, you shut up and worked harder than anyone. Your training squad likes you for your intensity and humility. If you’ve made it this far and found a way to enjoy it, you’ve landed in one of the few safe spots in mixed martial arts. Gym life – where champions are made and where fallen warriors regroup after defeat. Being a member of a good team is both challenging and uplifting. Now it’s time to choose: do you want to stay here and be an invisible member of the team or do you want to go on and take a stab at fighting?

I am not going to tell you how to behave now. I am going to tell you what’s ahead. As a matchmaker for Fight Quest, I have dozens of requests from people with shady martial arts backgrounds, some with admittedly little training. I receive them most times after a UFC broadcast, minutes after a memorable fight. A chosen few make it to the ring but amongst them, only a handful succeed. Why? Because they had no idea what they were in for. So it’s time for a gut check.

Rule number four…

When you are sparring, things are under control. You can tell your partner if you are injured or even better, if you do not feel like sparring, you can always grapple or hit the weights. No one is looking. Have you ever heard about performers having stage fright? Musicians, dancers or comedians, afraid to underperform and make a fool of themselves? It’s a terrible feeling, but at least they do not have to manage punches to the face, takedowns, armlocks and chokes. There’s more than your ego at stake.

Let me tell you what you are signing up for. By accepting a fight, you are going to go into a ring in front of 300 to 500 people that do not care if you are a good person or not. They do not care if you are injured or if your life is going down the tubes. All they want is for one of the two fighters to get hurt or dispatched in a spectacular way. Some might cheer you on, some might boo you, but most of them are looking for a gruesome finish. Can you deliver that? Can you be humble enough to put yourself aside and give the crowd what they want?

Think about it – how many times were you the guy who got up and boo’d when watching the UFC and the losing fighter announced he wrestled with an injury throughout the fight? Put yourself in his shoes for a second. You blow your ACL during your training camp, but you need to fight for this 15 000$ prize money and your sponsors so you can put payments on your house. You go into the ring, you fight your heart out, you lose and when you tell the truth, fans boo and say you are full of excuses.

Fighting is a lot of pressure. For those who fight on a regular basis, it sure is unnerving to risk everything on a regular basis. They feel that they have do it though. Risking is a lesser stress than not stepping up after all that work . Amateur standout and good friend Ilias Sannoudakis once told me: ”I just want to do something great”. For Ilias, it’s a bigger distaster to not climb in the ring than to lose. He knows what’s ahead and that it’s not babes and overpriced t-shirts with glitter.

Stop imagining yourself with your arms raised, covered in sweat and beaming with pride. Let that moment surprise you and strike you when your guard is down. Tito Ortiz said: ”Expect for the worst and hope for the best”. He couldn’t explain the situation better. You are heading into a cage where you’re going to risk your health and maybe even your life. That opponent on the other side of the ring looks nothing like Anderson Silva, B.J Penn or Urijah Faber. He looks hungrier, crazier and more ripped than you. Are you sure you want to do this?

Of course you do. You have made it this far, it would not make much sense to back down, would it? You’re going to step into that ring or cage. If you’re a fighter at heart, I have faith that you will. There is no other path for you. You did not make an easy choice, please know that. You are going up, not only against an opponent, but against a crowd that expects crushing. You are no longer the one sitting, but you are fighting for your life instead. Are you ready for that?

You are at the first crossroads of a fighting career. There is no shame in giving up and declaring forfeit. Hell, I did it. If you made it this far, you have the heart and guts of a champion. Please be self-conscious about this though. If you do not want to go on and fight, look at yourself in the mirror and yell it out loud. It’s heavy for the gym atmosphere to have a delusional member that is yapping about his career, refusing to face the truth. If you have made it this far, you know the sacred character of gym life and team morale. Do not drag this down because you refuse to face reality.

It’s all part of being a fighter, having the humility to recognize and anticipate the challenges ahead. It’s a question of pride and intergrity. You do not want to be that guy that can’t back his words and never learns from it. Wether you step up and fight or not is your decision but please, know what you’re in for.

Read the other Rules :
Rule 1 – Shut Up
Rule 2 – Show Up
Rule 3 – Know Your Place

10 Responses to “ So You Want To Be A F@*&In’ Fighter? Rule 4 – Know What You’re In For ”

  1. Nick says:

    Great series of articles. brings alot to think about, it’s great advice as well interesting.
    I dont know you ben but congratw on the job(?) and I look forward to reading more

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  2. Jamie Locke says:


    I am really enjoying your articles. This is all great advice for those armchair mma critics and fans who think they can do it better.

    I am just curious about your story and your background. I know you mentioned before that you had a few fights, can you throw down your background and martial arts resume, just to let us readers know where you are coming from and where you get your material?

    Great post yet again, looking forward to the next installment!

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  3. I’ve been training under Firas Zahabi since 2003. I’ve came a long way from being a computer and literature nerd to being a fighter. I have around twenty grappling matches. One one tournament at GAMMA in Intermediate division and one @ Tristar in Advanced division. Grappling is my strong suit.

    I have one Muay Thai fight where I drew with Constantin Kalsatos from Siam No.1 and broke my arm in the process. I am 1-1 in amateur MMA. Lost a TKO to Alex Bon-Miller (who has proceeded to go 6-0 in amateur and 1-0 as a pro) and won a decision against that dude…Tommy something from Northern Quebec. Tough, strong dude, but not very skilled.

    Prior to my fight with Alex, I had my upper jaw broke by some crazy guy who soccer kicked me in training. That was in February. After losing to Alex in December, I figured out I’d try to win once and concentrate on training people instead as I felt the competing edge slipping out. I couldn’t take punches like I used to, I was trying to make a living with my new girlfriend (which I now have been with for the last four years) and competing just wouldn’t have been honest for me or my partners.

    So this is it. That’s how I’ve became one of the seniors in the ZMMA crew. I still hit the gym regularly, but now it’s all recreation and helping the guys out.

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  4. jer from mtl says:

    Awesome read Ben. I guess bottom line is if you wanna be a fighter …you gotta fight!

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  5. Jamie Locke says:

    Wicked man,

    Keep up the training and excellent writing.

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  6. Jason says:

    Another great post indeed!

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  7. M.M. says:

    Ben is MMA genius. One of the most decent people you will ever meet. All around stud. Keep up the great work.

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  8. Robin Black says:


    Very very nice job on these articles my friend. Super-insightful, really well-written and, in my humble opinion, the bang-on truth.

    You are a talented writer man.

    There seems to be a lack of writers with real-world fight experience who tell it like it is. You are definitely doing that.

    Thanks for writing these.


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  9. Sean Quinn says:

    Hey Robin,
    Geoff here.
    Shut up please.
    Thank you.


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  10. peter trakakis says:

    Great job on these articles Ben. They provide keyboard junkies and ‘tough guys’ with an in your face humility and reality check when it comes to training, sparring and gym etiquette. Respect must go out to the fighters, trainers and those who also mix it up regularly. You are an exceptionally talented writer, a good person, and i think you can still take a good punch.

    Keep up the great work..


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