What Are the Job Responsibilities of MMA Agents? | Explained
MMA Agents and Managers play one of the most important roles in the sport of Mixed Martial Arts.
In this page, we will explain what the job responsibilities of MMA Agents are, how to become a MMA agent, and the challenges that they face.
Table of Contents
- What Are the Job Responsibilities of MMA Agents?
- How to Become a MMA Agent/Manager
- Challenges MMA Agents Face
- How Much Do MMA Agents Get Paid?
What Are the Job Responsibilities of MMA Agents?
The main responsibilities of a MMA agent are to represent their client, help them reach their maximum earning potential inside the cage, as well as outside the cage, and put them in the best possible position to success in their career.
In addition, they have to possess excellent communication skills to effectively communicate with both their client and every involved party in business deals.
It comes down to two areas, everything that is related to fighting, and everything outside of fighting.
Below, we'll cover each aspect of a MMA agent's responsibilities in depth.
Related to Fighting
A MMA Agent has to negotiate their client's fighting contract with MMA promotions.
The agent must do their due diligence in honestly evaluating their fighter, evaluating the market, and finding out what the fighter's value is.
Contracts are notoriously tricky, where a small oversight of wording can easily cost a fighter and an agent hundreds of thousands of dollars down the line.
The UFC's contracts for example, are only multi-fight deals that increase a set amount after each fight.
This requires structuring deals in a way that will benefit their fighter, engaging in back and forth conversations during ongoing negotiations, and reaching a deal that their client will be happy with.
Find Favorable Match-ups
This doesn't necessarily mean to find easy fights for them, but rather to point out that every fighter is at a different stage of their career.
Some fighters are up-and-coming, others are a fight or two away from the belt, others are champions, and others are veterans who have been fighting for a long time.
A good MMA agent will have to evaluate each one of their clients on a case by case basis and map out a roadmap that will be best for their career.
In addition, they have to take into account what their clients' goals are as well, and implement that into the plan.
Marketing & Sponsorships
In the UFC, the UFC dictates the sponsors that UFC fighters can have, which doesn't allow for much room for negotiation.
However, outside of the UFC this isn't the case, and MMA agents can frequently and effectively negotiate sponsorship deals and any marketing opportunities for their clients.
This is a massive stream of revenue for many MMA fighters outside of fighting, and it's imperative that they have a MMA agent that can close on solid deals for them.
If fighters are unable to fight due to any reason (injury, VISA issues, etc) they aren't able to earn their in-cage money.
Marketing and Sponsorships can be a huge relief in this event, even if it's a small sponsorship where the client simply has to post a product on Instagram to earn a fixed fee and earn a commission percentage on sales.
Find the Best Gym
Although this doesn't always occur, some fighters may suffer setbacks and/or come to the realization that in order to reach their full potential they will have to switch to a better gym.
It could be due to a variety of reasons including the lack of training partners, instructor quality, or lower quality gym in general.
Regardless of the reason, it's up to the MMA agent to make calls and find the best possible gym that will be the best fit for their client.
It isn't as simple as "X, Y and Z are the best gyms, let me call there".
Agents will have to consider what the client's style is, what available gyms are best at that style, as well as take into account their client's personality.
Many MMA agencies are now providing access to dedicated Sports Psychologists, to help fighters overcome any mental obstacles that they are facing.
Outside of Fighting
Create and Grow Their Brand/Social Media Presence
The more followers that a fighter has on social media, the better known they are.
More followers often also equal more opportunities for additional income, and higher earning income.
A solid social media presence in this day and age is so important, but luckily for MMA fighters it's not difficult to improve.
MMA media is everywhere, and it's the agent's job to get their fighter to do as many (high quality and high exposure) interviews as possible, starting with the MMA hour.
The MMA hour has millions of listeners, and by simply appearing on that show, there are tremendous benefits.
Coordinate After Parties
After fights, many fighters will also host after parties at certain night clubs.
A MMA agent can coordinate this to receive a percentage of sales/admission for that night, as the presence of MMA fighters will naturally bring in more visitors.
Taxes And Finances
Some fighters want to be involved in the business processes and learn, while other fighters just want to train MMA and think about 24/7.
When that's the case, it's possible that they will need someone to help them with (or take ownership of) doing their taxes, and their financial structure in general.
This includes forming a business entity to maximize their taxes, helping them understand what expenses can be written-off, how much in taxes they have to pay when fighting in different states, and even different countries.
This is self-explanatory, it's not always about what you know, but who you know.
This applies directly to MMA Agents/Managers are the better connections that they're able to make, the better deals that they're able to close, and the more clients that they're able to manage.
How to Become a MMA Agent/Manager
Low Barrier to Entry
There is a low barrier to becoming a MMA Agent/Manager, as unlike becoming an agent in the NFL, there is currently no Undergraduate degree required, or a MMA agent test that must be passed.
To give you perspective, these are the requirements to becoming a NFL agent:
- Non-refundable Application fee of $2,500.00
- Undergraduate AND Post Graduate degree (Masters OR Law) from an accredited college/university
- Authorization to perform a background investigation
- Mandatory attendance (possibly virtual for 2022) at a two (2) day seminar
- Successful completion of a multiple-choice, proctored examination
- Valid email address
Whether you're a former MMA fighter, hobbyist, or have been watching MMA for 20 years, you'll still need to gain experience to understand the business side.
Finding an internship (it may be unpaid) with a reputable MMA agency will allow you to be on the front lines.
This will allow you to gain exposure to:
- How a successful MMA agency works day to day
- What they do best
- What they don't do well
- What you could do better
- Challenges that agencies face
- How to negotiate effectively with promotions
Build Your Own Presence
If a MMA agent is trying to recruit a client to sign with them, and are promising to help them earn more and have a giant social media presence...
The agent better have a solid social media presence as well, or the potential client won't believe a word that they say.
Instead they'll think "This agent only has 100 followers but is telling me that they can get me to 500,000 followers".
Agents must practice what they preach.
Monitor the Regional Scene & Smaller Promotions
In the early days of being an agent, MMA agents may have to monitor the regional scenes to find any promising talent.
In the event that they do find a fighter worth signing, they may have to cover the costs of their training camp.
The reason for this is that it is so early in their career, that they will most likely need help and/or are juggling jobs while trying to train full time to pay for their expenses.
Reach Out to Fighters
Whether it's through Twitter, Instagram, Facebook or even a text message, a MMA agent should actively be trying to reach out to potential clients.
Challenges MMA Agents Face
- Finding potential clients
- Keeping clients
- Competing with more established MMA agents/agencies
- Maintaining clear communication while having many fighters on their roster
- Negotiating contracts
- Meeting the needs of each client while each is in a different stage of their career
How Much Do MMA Agents Get Paid?
It ultimately varies by MMA agents and agencies, however some of the top MMA agents such as Ali Abdelaziz and First Round Management charge 10%.
What exactly the percentage applies to can vary greatly.
The 10% can simply be per fight that the client is a part of, and/or per Sponsorship/Marketing deal brought in by the agent.
Dominick Cruz recently brought up a point that managers (when negotiating with the UFC) should only get a percentage of the first fight, as the multi-fight deal solidifies what the fighter will be getting paid for all of their fights.
Cruz would say:
“Why would I pay somebody for four fights when it’s set after one? That doesn’t make sense to me”
It's a valid point worth bringing up, and something that may be more common in the future.