Anyone can go pro any time. All you have to do is go to the state athletic commission, get a pro license, sign up for a fight, bam. Some people do it after 4 fights, some do it after 10. The amateur scene around here is very small and people don't stick around very long. Only within the last couple of years have they started doing amateur belts and rankings, which encourage people to have longer ammy careers.
I've been an amateur much longer than most fighters in my area. This happened for two reasons. The first of which was school; I wasn't able to train as hard as I'd like to during the school year, so I only fought MMA twice a year. During the school year, I competed in boxing, kickboxing, and grappling -- sports that I enjoy, but don't care about in terms of my record. (If I have an MMA fight, I'm training 6 days a week. If I can't do that, I won't take a fight.)
The other reason I wanted to take my time was because I want LOTS of experience. Boxers have 50, 80, even 100 fights before they go pro. When you see a pro boxer, you can often see that he's a pro. A lot of pro MMA fighters around here aren't so polish, since they only took like 3 fights before making the leap. I want people to be able to look at me and immediately know that I get paid to do this.
I've had 7 MMA fights, but if you include my boxing matches, kickboxing matches, and smoker fights (full contact exhibition/doesnt go on your record), I've had 18 full contact matches. I've also done 11 grappling competitions. I now feel like I've enough experience to represent myself well as a pro. Plus I wasn't able to find an opponent last time I tried to fight amateur. So I decided it was time to make the leap... November 10th!!!!
As for Jeremy, that dude is THE MAN! I really look up to him. He's awesome! As far as I'm concerned, Bellator is the big leagues. I'm pretty far from that level. I'll be doing local New England shows for a while, but I hope to someday compete in Bellator and then eventually the UFC.
You got a good mindset. Without mentioning his name one of the top kickboxers in our gym fought in a pro fight and lost pretty embarrasingly by a submission artist. Another who was a former champion lost to Bibiano Fernandez in like two minutes. There's pros then there's pros. I find so many peers who simply see the end goal, but I don't think they truly know how bumpy the road will be. Like anything in life it is TOUGH. In fact I think it's probably one of the most difficult sports. There's no best of three or five fights ya know. You get one shot and that's it. Even when you're the champ for several years, if you lose you're back down the ladder. Lose twice and you're even farther down, and three times you just went from hero to zero. Crazy!
What an exhilarating sport! Who you got this weekend! I got money on Vitor!
Marcus Aurelius: Tell me again, Maximus, why are we here?
Maximus: For the glory of the Empire, sire.
Baked, not fried... the healthy choice.