I used to think it was a much bigger factor than I do today. Especially when you see how young fighters are when making it to the UFC. Take Raul Rosas Jr. for example, he won his contender series fight at 17 years old and just won his UFC debut at 18. Making him the youngest fighter to compete and win with the organization. After hearing something like that you have to safely assume that fighting is a young man's game, (which it mainly is) but let’s look at a few anomalies that stayed competitive into their 30s and beyond.
Up first is Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson, MMA’s golden boy, known for being the nicest guy around, his traditional martial arts background coupled with years in the kickboxing circuit has made him one of the most dynamic strikers we have seen in the UFC. Just last weekend, we watched Mr. Thompson pick apart Kevin Holland in their FOTN contender until Holland's corner had to put a stop to it. For someone that has competed as long as he has at that level and will turn 40 in just a couple months, he looks sharper than ever.
Second is none other than the former light heavyweight champion, Glover Teixeira. Who just last year won the belt by choking out Jan Blachowicz and becoming the oldest UFC champion at 42 years of age. To say the least, it was highly inspiring to watch someone at his age not only perform at such a high level for so long but see him become a world champion. Glover is still competing to this day. He has since lost his title but thanks to some odd and unfortunate circumstances, he is scheduled to fight for the title again against Jamal Hill on January 21st, 2023.
Last one I want to mention is the oldest outlier in our group, the Soldier of God himself, Yoel Romero. Former Cuban Olympian, Yoel has always been an unbelievable athlete over the years and has found a way to stay in amazing fighting shape past the age of 45. With amazing genetics and a life dedicated to athletics, it's incredible to see what the human body can accomplish under the right circumstances. Yoel is currently scheduled to face Vadim Nemkov on February, 4th 2023 for the Bellator Light Heavyweight World Championship.
Honorable mentions here at the end are Guido Cannetti and Clay Guida, both men are in their early 40’s and are still competing in the UFC. While both are highly entertaining to watch, The Carpenter has been a fan favorite of UFC fans for 15 years.
With the average age of fighters on roster starting with a 2, countered with the average age of UFC champions starting with a 3. There is a clear pattern demonstrating how critical experience is but claiming that once any person hits a certain age their performance just begins rapidly declining, is clearly false. I’m sure it’s always a factor when you do witness something like that happening, time is a fight that all of us lose but if you play your cards right, you can be world class in your 40s.