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See if you can find reviews on the place, the style of training, how involved the coaches are, and also if there's any knuckleheads at the gym which can happen a lot. As far as losing weight, well, you understand the concept of losing weight through being in a caloric deficit right? that type of workout will easily have you burn about 800-1000 calories so make sure you eat up. Have fun, learning a new skill is awesome and addictive.
Once you start sparring (which shouldn't be right away, I wouldn't for at LEAST two months, especially considering MMA involves more than one style of fighting, so if you've never done any type of fighting it's going to be a ton of information right away) it should help you get over your fear of confrontation but a lot of that comes from within, though you will gain confidence through picking new skills up.
Edit: regarding the sparring, see how your team mates are, I think two months may be a bit too much. If you can find a team mate that is NOT a douche and will take it easy and be more of a teacher than just a bully, then by all means go for it and see if you can test out your new skills. At my Muaythai gym new guys are not allowed to spar for at least a month, even though absolutely nobody at the gym has an ego and we never go too hard on each other.