Aging is quite difficult for everyone, and especially for athletes and fighters. In this article, we bring you the top 10 MMA fighters who started training late in their lives.
10 best MMA fighters who started training late are Mark Hunt, Chuck Liddell, Vitor Belfort, Randy Couture, Chael Sonnen, Frank Shamrock, Junior Dos Santos, Kimbo Slice, Nate Quarry, and Matt Mitrione.
We will sort these late starters by age they started training, so check them out, and if you think you are too old to start training MMA, maybe you should think again.
Before we start, here are some of the similar lists we made that might be of interest to you. Check them out!
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- 15 Best Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) Fighters in the UFC (MMA)
- Best Muay Thai Fighters in the UFC (MMA) History
- 11 Best Kickboxers in the UFC and MMA History
- 15 Best Wrestlers in the UFC
- Best Boxers in UFC (MMA) of All Time
- 10 Most Popular UFC Fighters on Instagram (2020)
10 Best MMA Fighters Who Started Training Later in Their Lives
Junior Dos Santos – started MMA training at 21
Junior dos Santos Almeida is a Brazilian mixed martial artist and a former UFC Heavyweight Champion. He has victories over 5 UFC Heavyweight Champions: Fabrício Werdum, Frank Mir, Cain Velasquez, Shane Carwin, and Stipe Miocic.
Before becoming an MMA fighter when he was 21, he was working as a dishwasher in Brazil. His debut was as a kickboxer with only three months of practice.
He trained Capoeira when he was a teenager and has started his serious MMA training when he was 21, by training Brazilian jiu-jitsu under Yuri Carlton.
Despite starting MMA training pretty old, he surprised many and become UFC champion.
Frank Shamrock – started MMA training at 22
Frank Shamrock is a retired American professional MMA fighter. He was the first to hold the UFC Middleweight Championship (later renamed the UFC Light Heavyweight Championship) and retired a four-time defending undefeated champion.
Shamrock was the No. 1 ranked pound for pound UFC fighter in the world during his reign as the UFC Middleweight Champion. He has won numerous titles in other martial arts organizations, including the interim King of Pancrase title, the WEC Light Heavyweight Championship, and the Strikeforce Middleweight Championship.
Shamrock was 22 years old when he started training in MMA. He started with submission wrestling, and, as we can see now, it was the right move in his career.
Nate Quarry – started MMA training at 24
Nathan Parker “Nate” Quarry is a retired American MMA fighter who is most famous for his appearance in The Ultimate Fighter, a reality show from the Ultimate Fighting Championship, as well as co-hosting the show MMA Uncensored Live.
He grove up as Jehovah’s Witness and was very strictly raised, so he wasn’t allowed to do any organized sports, let alone train martial arts. The result of it he hasn’t started training before 24 years old and had his first pro fight when he was 29 years.
Matt Mitrione – started training at 28
Matthew Steven Mitrione is an American MMA fighter and former American football player. He was a featured fighter on The Ultimate Fighter: Heavyweights. Mitrione holds notable victories over Fedor Emelianenko, Roy Nelson, Derrick Lewis, Gabriel Gonzaga, and Kimbo Slice, and is known to knock out opponents with his right hand from a southpaw stance, despite being otherwise left-handed outside the ring.
While he was growing he trained Shotokan Karate, even fought in few professional kickboxing tournaments as a teenager, but has only started training in MMA when he was 28 years old.
Without a single professional MMA fight, Mitrione was chosen on Season 10 of The Ultimate Fighter in 2009. He lost in the quarterfinals of the show but earned the chance to fight at the Finale show, a fight he won against Marcus Jones.
Chuck Liddell – started MMA training at 29
Charles David “Chuck” Liddell is a retired American MMA fighter and former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion. Liddell had 23 fights in the UFC; most notable were against Randy Couture and Tito Ortiz. He was inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame.
He made his debut in 1998 during UFC 17 when he was 29 years old. He has a lot of fighting background, but before this, he has never trained in mixed martial arts. His best performance were somewhere in his 30’s.
Brock Lesnar – started MMA training at 29
Brock Edward Lesnar is an American professional wrestler, former MMA fighter and professional football player. He is currently signed to WWE, where he performs on the Raw brand.
He started training in MMA in 2006 when he was 29 years old. In 2008 he becomes UFC champion by defeating Randy Couture. He was a sensation in UFC, as his fights where some of the bestselling pay-per-view events.
Kimbo Slice – started MMA training at 31
Kevin Ferguson (February 8, 1974 – June 6, 2016), better known as Kimbo Slice, was a Bahamian-American MMA fighter, boxer, professional wrestler and occasional actor. He became famous for combat street fights which were spread across the Internet, leading Rolling Stone to call him “The King of the Web Brawlers.”
He started his MMA career when he was 31 years old, signing a professional contract with EliteXC in 2007. He also fought in UFC and Bellator MMA.
Yoel Romero – started MMA training at 31
Yoel Romero Palacio is a Cuban MMA fighter and former freestyle wrestler. He fights in the Ultimate Fighting Championship, competing in the Middleweight division. As a freestyle wrestler, Romero is a former world gold medalist and an Olympic silver medalist. He won six world and Olympic medals in total.
Even thou he has never won the UFC championship, his abilities have earned him several comparisons to the greats of the sport.
He started his MMA training when he was 31 years old and had his first MMA debut when he was 32 years.
Randy Couture – started MMA training at 34
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Randall Duane Couture is an American actor, former U.S. Army sergeant, retired MMA fighter and former collegiate and Greco-Roman wrestler. Couture is one of the greatest UFC fighters of all time, he became a three-time UFC Heavyweight Champion, two-time UFC Light heavyweight Champion, an interim UFC Light heavyweight Champion, making him a six-time UFC Champion and the UFC 13 Heavyweight Tournament winner. He is also the oldest UFC champion in history.
All his achievements in MMA are even bigger when you know that he started MMA training very late. His MMA career started when he was 34 years old, and in 10 years he made all those records. He is definitely one of the best MMA fighters who started training late.
Mark Hunt – started MMA training at 36
Mark Richard Hunt is a New Zealand MMA fighter and former kickboxer of Samoan descent. Hunt competed in the Ultimate Fighting Championship and was the winner of the 2001 K-1 World Grand Prix.
He made his debut in UFC in 2010 when he was 36 years old. His fight with Junior dos Santos, in 2013, is regarded as one of the best fights in the history of UFC, he lost it when he was 39 years old.