Here are five fighters who are over 35 that could follow Glover Teixeira’s trend.
People tell you all the time, you’re only as old as you feel. If that’s the case, some of us have been 200 years old since we were nine. Others of us are nearly 60 and still act like they’re nine. Either way, that’s a horrifying concept but it’s fair to say that the “age is only how old you feel” mentality isn’t completely bunk. Look at Glover Teixeira, the UFC’s light heavyweight champion who will make his first title defense at UFC 275 at the age of 42.
When that young man puts it all together, he may just be a force when he gets older.
Jokes aside, thanks to modern medicine, training techniques, recovery methods, and a better understanding of how to utilize our bodies to their fullest, the idea of a pro athlete being done by 35 isn’t really the reality anymore. Sure, there are some instances where an athlete has prolonged their career thanks to steroids, but it’s not as uncommon anymore for guys to put the bounds of the expected by out-performing their peers.
Across sports, you’re seeing this. Tom Brady is 45, LeBron James is 37, Justin Verlander is 39, and just a few months removed from another Cy Young. So the idea that Teixeira is 42 and in the midst of his first reign as UFC light heavyweight champion really isn’t that surprising. In fact, we may see more first-time champions get a UFC strap in the not-too-distant future who aren’t exactly on the right side of 30.
Here are five fighters over 35 years old who could win a UFC title
Gilbert Burns – 35
Gilbert Burns is 35, but he’s turning 36 in July, so I’m counting him. Burns is one of those guys who against most of the competition in the welterweight division provides a matchup nightmare. He’s stronger than most guys, he’s quicker than most guys and he’s just a load to deal with. Sure, he’s 1-2 in his last three, but he lost to champ Kamaru Uzman and resident madman Khamzat Chimaev. Easily the number’s one and two most talented guys in the division. With the right matchup and some look, Burns could be champion before too long.
Stephen Thompson – 39
Admittedly a lot of guys on this list are somewhere in between getting a shot and getting left behind but maybe none more so than Stephen Thompson. He’s one of the best pure strikers in MMA history but he struggles against better grapplers. He can defend himself but he gets stuffed. He’s 3-5 over his last eight, and most of his losses came when he couldn’t get his offense going. He can still bring it, but he needs to find his way through the right crop of opponents if he’s ever going to get another shot.
Thiago Santos – 38
It’s likely Thiago Santos has seen the last of his prime, he’s 1-3 since his loss to Jon Jones but Santos has something going for him that could curry favor. He’s a knockout machine. Santos only needs to get off the right shot and he’ll win any fight he’s in. So while he hasn’t bounced back from his knee surgery the way one would have hoped, Santos still has that power and that makes him dangerous.
Jared Cannonier – 38
The fact that Jared Cannonier is 38, has run through the middleweight division, and is only now getting a middleweight title shot is beyond rationale. Cannonier has a date with middleweight champion Israel Adesanya on July 2 at UFC 276 and he stands a good chance of walking away as the champ. Cannonier has power and technique that can win him a fight. He may not be as technical as Adesanya, but Cannonier has enough power to stake a claim to some UFC gold real soon.
Uriah Hall – 37
Uriah Hall is the MMA equivalent of Lucy holding the football for Charlie Brown. Just when you think he’s finally put it all together, Lucy yanks the ball away and Sean Strickland ends up beating him in a fight. Just like in typical Peanuts fashion. He’s 4-1 in his last five and while the middleweight division is arguably the deepest in the UFC, it’s also the division with the last amount of separation between top guys and mid-guys. Hall knocks out two more guys, and he could easily find himself in a title fight.