What Age Is Too Old to Start MMA?

What Age Is Too Old to Start MMA?

One of the questions you always ask yourself when starting doing some sort of sport is – am I too old? Certainly, when you start off at a young(er) age, the question doesn’t really come up, but if you start in your late twenties, thirties or even forties, you ask yourself whether you should just stay at home, read a decent book and watch TV shows or really put yourself into some dedicated training?

There is no age limit to start training MMA. Regardless of how old you are, there are many reasons why you should start doing MMA. If you decide to get yourself into MMA at an older age, you will soon feel better, be in better condition, fell younger, meet new people and be mentally stronger.

Although you can ask yourself this question in any discipline, martial arts tend to cause more dilemmas because of the individual and physically demanding nature of the sports. One of those arts is MMA fighting and, in this article, we are going to answer the question whether there is an age limit to start with doing MMA. 

Age and Sports

People usually start doing sports at a young(er) age. Children usually do it on their parents’ incentive, while adolescents tend to explore different disciplines themselves. Scientists and medical professionals always stress out the importance of workout and encourage children to engage in some form of organized sporting activity from an early age.

Although a lot of those children won’t turn professional, the importance of the workout itself is a strong enough reason to start. 

But there are a lot of people who start doing sports at a much later age, without having any prior sporting experience. Although we could not get our hands on exact statistical data, we all know someone who started running, working out, playing tennis or basketball in their thirties or forties, just for the fun of it and to stay healthy, of course.

Plus, if you just look it up on Google, you will find a large number of forums and board where people share their experience of commencing with sporting activities, pondering whether they are too old or not. 

Most people end up as (solid) amateurs, but there are a lot of examples of people who started off with a sport unusually late in their lives, but became well-known professionals. For example, the then prospective NBA All-Star Dikembe Mutombo didn’t start playing serious basketball until his first year of college, when he was 22 years old.

Likewise, Spanish football goalkeeper Javi Varas didn’t sign his first professional contract until he was 23, but would have a solid professional career that lasted until 2019.

There are also examples from the world of martial arts, especially MMA. The legendary Kimbo Slice, who passed away unexpectedly in 2016, didn’t start his professional MMA career until he was 31 and had a run od 8-2-1 during his career. Brazilian MMA star Junior dos Santos didn’t even do martial arts until he was 21, while Nate Quarry didn’t do any sort of sports until he was 24 and made his MMA debut at the age of 29.

So, there you go – you do not have to start off early to become a successful professional. 

The question of age and sports is not just related to start of sporting activities, but also the end of such activities. One should never stop doing sports, but it is difficult to maintain a professional level of activity at a later age.

Still, there are a lot of examples of people that defy nature’s and society’s usual norms and still do professional sports, despite being what is generally considered to be too old. For example, Egyptian Eez Eldin Bahder is 75 years old and still plays professional football for an Egyptian third league club.

A lot of MMA also had professional fights in their forties, even fifties and the legendary Randy Couture became champion at the age of 45(!) when, in 2007, he defended his UFC heavyweight title against Gabriel Gonzaga. 

Are You Too Old to Start MMA?

So, to answer your question – are you too old to start MMA? – no, you are not! There is no bad time in life to start doing sports, and MMA is not an exception. People might look at you queerly, but you should not mind that, you’re doing it for yourselves!

Still, you have to bear in mind that you have to predetermine your goals before starting. If you want to remain a (solid) amateur, the age limit is practically non-existent, because as an amateur you’re the one dictating the pace, the pressure and the decisions.

There are no external factors that can force you do something or not do it. If you want to turn pro, you have to bear in mind that there are a lot of external factors that determine how your career plays out. Certainly, starting in your late twenties or early thirties still enables you to retain a chance of becoming a professional, but professional managers and organisers are less interested in older clients so you’d have to have a bit of luck as well.

Also, the physical strains on your body are much harder at a later stage of life, so bear in mind that if you plan to turn pro at the age od 35, you’ll have to work a lot harder than your adolescent peers. Plus, do keep in mind that MMA requires a much larger and varied skillset than other, individualistic martial arts so bear that fact in mind when pondering a professional career at a later stage in life. 

One more thing worth pointing out is that there are a lot of incredible MMA fighters who started late and still ended in the UFC.

10 Reasons Why It Is Never Too Late to Start MMA

Having said all of this, we shall give a list of 10 reasons why we think it’s never to late to start MMA, although bear in mind that you have to decide whether you want to remain an amateur or turn pro. That goal should, in a very large percentage, influence your final decision on if and when to start boxing. Here are the reasons:

  1. Socialization – although MMA is an individual sport, training sessions, going to the gym and sparring sessions all require close social contact and can, perhaps, lead to the formation of a strong friendship or relationship with someone. Just remember how Rocky Balboa, the main character of Stallone’s cult franchise, had a close relationship with his coach. 
  2. New knowledge – MMA is not just punching and kicking, it is a very complex martial art where tactics usually play a much bigger part in winning, than just pure physique. Learning new tactics and tactical approaches, but also new fighting styles, doesn’t just increase your knowledge, it stimulates your brain as the adrenaline of a fight demands for a quick response. 
  3. Self-defense – people who take on MMA while learning how to attack, also learn how to defend themselves. Although you should always avoid confrontations when possible, life sometimes doesn’t allow you to escape or avoid a conflict. In such situations, it is better to know hot to defend yourself than not. Check out our article to see how MMA compares to other martial arts when it comes to self-defense.
  4. You’ll grow as a person – each new experience is special and enables you to develop yourself as a human being. MMA has a lot of different aspects and approaches, and learning (about) them will certainly enable you to grow as a person.
  5. You’ll feel younger – this one is more for our older readers, as the physical and health benefits of MMA will, undoubtedly, result in your body, and with it your mind, feeling younger. The mere fact that you can hold out and win a fight against someone who’s probably younger than you will be a boost so strong that you’ll probably feel at least 10 years younger. 
  6. The benefits of physical activity – any physical activity is highly recommended and MMA is certainly a discipline that demands a lot from you, but also gives you a lot of benefits. You’ll be healthier, more mobile and will generally look and feel better. 
  7. Building confidence – while teaching you how to attack, how to defend and how to win, MMA also builds on your confidence. It allows you to create a better, a much stronger image of yourself and the confidence you have in the ring, during a fight, will emanate to all other aspects of life. 
  8. DisciplineMMA is a martial art that requires a lot of determination and is very demanding. Not everyone can do MMA the way should be done and if a person does not have the required discipline, he may quit. Luckily, MMA does build one’s discipline so it can be beneficial in that aspect likewise. 
  9. You never know… – relating to the above-mentioned stories, you’ve heard that legendary boxer Rocky Marciano started at the age of 25 and ended with an unbeaten run. You never know what the future hold, so even if you start at a later date, just remember that you might become the new Marciano. 
  10. Learning your limits – since doing MMA requires a lot of discipline, it has to teach its fighters to control themselves. You do not fight to kill someone; you fight to win and there are certain limits you’ll have to adhere to in order to be a good fighter. 

And that’s it for now. Keep checking to see our new content and more on the topic of martial arts.

Vladimir Vladisavljevic has been training in the art of kickboxing for over seven years, holds a Taekwondo black belt, and has a master's degree in sports and physical education. He's also a huge mixed martial arts fan. He's a big deal in Bulgaria as a mixed martial arts commentator, analyst, and podcaster.
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Vladimir Vladisavljevic

Vladimir Vladisavljevic has a master's degree in sports and physical education. He has been training in kickboxing for over seven years and holds a Taekwondo black belt. He's also a huge mixed martial arts fan. Vladimir is a big deal in Bulgaria as a mixed martial arts commentator, analyst, and podcaster. He was known as The Bulgarian Cowboy in the Western world. In addition, he has a YouTube channel where he talks about his love of esports, one of the fastest-growing fields in the world. Our testing and reviewing method.
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