Top Level Fighters & Sparring Partners

The presser last night had me thinking, who would want to go and spar with some of the top level guys. Not just who, but who would (who had something to contribute). Personally I would but I'm not a top level fighter.

If your an up and comer or an established fighter would you want to go spar with Diaz/Carwin/Rashad/BJ? I feel like being a TRAINING partner with these guys is extremely beneficial to any fighter. But SPARRING partner might be a different story. For instance, I don't know how anybody volunteered to spar with Mike Tyson when he was in his prime. I know that its apples and oranges, boxing and MMA, Greatness and top level. But here are my questions:

- Do sparring partners get paid? If so, is it a decent amount or something along the lines of covering expenses to get to the camp and to live there for a few days?

- I've seen GSP's circle of training partners (Rashad, Nate, etc), who contacts potential partners and gets them to come in to train?

- If you come in as a sparring partner do they also train with them? Are training & sparring partners essentially the same thing or are they different?

- Would management intervene and not allow their fighter to go and spar with certain people, Diaz alluded to some potential sparring partners who would not come because their trainers didn't want them to?

Thanks in advance for any answers from people in the know.

Sparring with people better than you is how you get better. Phone Post

nogblublt - Sparring with people better than you is how you get better. <img src="/images/phone/apple.png" alt="Phone Post" border="0" style="vertical-align:middle;"/>


I agree that training with top level guys is the only way to get better, why was it so difficult to find partners for Diaz? Who wouldn't want to train with a guy who has arguably the best hands in the Welterweight division?

That's why I asked my questions about the compensation and management intervention.

 It really depends on the fighter and their camp....Most people are associated with a camp and the fighters within that camp are training anyways....the coach uses guys to help the fighter get ready for his fight.



I've worked with numerous fighters who were getting ready for fights in the UFC.....I never got paid, but I would have been training anyways, so I didn't mind sparring with the guys.  There are times that I was preparing for a fight and those fighters helped me get ready for my fights.  They also do stuff like conduct classes or exchange info with other fighters.



There are guys who pay for training partners, but I'm not familiar with how those work.

The same goes for wrestling... growing up I hated going to practice and getting my butt kicked by someone else in the wrestling room but it was because of that that I became a great wrestler... You only get better by having to be challenged and learning how to overcome it Phone Post

The Sultan - It really depends on the fighter and their camp....Most people are associated with a camp and the fighters within that camp are training anyways....the coach uses guys to help the fighter get ready for his fight.

I've worked with numerous fighters who were getting ready for fights in the UFC.....I never got paid, but I would have been training anyways, so I didn't mind sparring with the guys. There are times that I was preparing for a fight and those fighters helped me get ready for my fights. They also do stuff like conduct classes or exchange info with other fighters.

There are guys who pay for training partners, but I'm not familiar with how those work.<br type="_moz" />


That's all I've heard of as well, it wasn't until last night I really became aware of paying for partners, I always assumed it was a reciprocal relationship ala GSP and his circle of partners.

drmccarty - The same goes for wrestling... growing up I hated going to practice and getting my butt kicked by someone else in the wrestling room but it was because of that that I became a great wrestler... You only get better by having to be challenged and learning how to overcome it


That's also how I came up in wrestling, working with better wrestlers to get better yourself. But now were talking about a professional sports and whether its good or bad money is involved now. I wonder if its a common practice to pay for partners.

TheOne -
The Sultan - It really depends on the fighter and their camp....Most people are associated with a camp and the fighters within that camp are training anyways....the coach uses guys to help the fighter get ready for his fight.

I've worked with numerous fighters who were getting ready for fights in the UFC.....I never got paid, but I would have been training anyways, so I didn't mind sparring with the guys. There are times that I was preparing for a fight and those fighters helped me get ready for my fights. They also do stuff like conduct classes or exchange info with other fighters.

There are guys who pay for training partners, but I'm not familiar with how those work.<br type="_moz" />


That's all I've heard of as well, it wasn't until last night I really became aware of paying for partners, I always assumed it was a reciprocal relationship ala GSP and his circle of partners.

drmccarty - The same goes for wrestling... growing up I hated going to practice and getting my butt kicked by someone else in the wrestling room but it was because of that that I became a great wrestler... You only get better by having to be challenged and learning how to overcome it


That's also how I came up in wrestling, working with better wrestlers to get better yourself. But now were talking about a professional sports and whether its good or bad money is involved now. I wonder if its a common practice to pay for partners.

I would think if they are part of your fight team preparing for a fight then yes... But if your just in a gym working with a fighter in between fights I would think not... But I'm sure the more of an asset that you are the bigger your check Phone Post

ttt for answers.

 I've always trained with guys who visited the gym. When it's time for rounds, we trained and sparred as training partners (both taking care of each other while still going as hard as we both felt or agreed to go that day). 



My concept of sparring partners who are brought in from outside the gym and aren't visiting athletes who are there to train at the gym with you, is that they don't come and do technique, except for whatever they may pick up during sparring, they aren't usually as good as you but they have to be tough and technical "enough", and if they do get you in trouble they don't go for the kill. They are there for you to work your techniques and strategy on, they are there to get hit, they are there to give you a look. They aren't there for their skills or their growth. Can sparring partners benefit from being one? Yes. But it's not all about them. They are there to take care of your health and practice but basically get a bit beat up. Can teammates do this? Yes, but teammates also need "theirs" and you'll always need to be "careful" with your teammates.



Also, a sparring partner will often come in just for sparring, which is conducted separately or even on different days, not at the end of a normal practice as is so often the case at MMA gyms. He isn't even there for the mitts, bag work or technique part. He comes in, the coach says we need you to do this, then the fighter goes to work on the sparring partners.



So a sparring partner can potentially be very different in both his use and relationship to the fighter than a training partner of visiting athlete, camper, etc.



My 2¢. I've always trained for fights with my training partners/teammates but I could see how someone else might have a different style of training camp.

I mean, you want to spar with great boxers, you won't be able to afford it. Even if you are a title holder in the UFC. It is a travesty.

 Top boxers absolutely pay for sparring partners. I know a guy that made up to 2k a week as a sparring partner with most top HWs (He was a journeyman/gatekeeper). He'd be brought in to emulate the opponent, get hit, get the boxer working and give a little back to keep the boxer sharp. A lot of top boxers worked as sparring partners when they started out, but the more common thing is a semi active boxer serving as a professional sparring partner.




 There are some MMA fighters that pay for sparring partners(well, the manager or coach pays...) to come in, but it doesn't seem as prevalent as it is in the boxing world.

Almost any arrangement you can imagine is in use.  If you belong to a very high level gym, there is generally enough new blood passing through to take care of most of the sparring needs.  ATT in Coconut, Jackson's and almost any gym in Vegas come to mind.  But even those gyms will still bring in specialists to prep a fighter for a specific opponent.  And the specialist may be paid way beyond expenses depending on the circumstances. 



Some fighters will spar for free just for the exposure and access to a facility and training that otherwise they could not visit.  That's how some fighters advance in their training.   Carwin got his start in MMA as a grappling specialist for Ron Waterman - then stuck around instead of going back to work.  When he knew he wanted to do more, he moved on to spar with Nate Marquardt (also in Denver).  Schaub joined Marquart's gym, and became Carwin's primary sparring partner... Then, on Nate's advice, both moved across town to a (then) tiny gym run by Trevor Wittman to advance their standup.  So you can see how the arrangements can overlap and change as the fighter advances.