The late career success of dinosaurs like Randy Couture notwithstanding, fighting is a young man's game.
All the attributed required to sustain success in the world of MMA today fade rather quickly the older one gets. Naturally, that means it's far more desirable to get a jump start on the competition.
And with UFC growing into the mainstream powerhouse that it is, more and more budding martial artists are training earlier in life to get a leg up on the relics of yesteryear.
This is evidenced by the success of those on the following list, the top eight UFC fighters who are 25-years-old or younger. In fact, two of these men are already champions. Furthermore, they're both in consideration for top spots on most pundits pound-for-pound list.
Indeed, the future, it seems, looks bright for the world's largest fight promotion. Without futher ado, here's the list (via UFC.com):
8. Erik Koch - 22, 13-1
A high school dropout, Koch is quickly making a name for himself as a legit contender in the featherweight division. Since a tough loss to Chad Mendes back in March 2010, "The New Breed" has ripped off four wins in a row, including three finishes and two "Knockout of the Night" awards, one of which came in his Octagon debut.
7. John Hathaway - 24, 15-1
A talented Englishman fully capable of heading up the British invasion, Hathaway put himself on the map by mopping the floor with Diego Sanchez in his native land just last year. He followed that up with a loss, unfortunately, but quickly rebounded and is still on track to become one of the promotion's top overseas stars.
6. Anthony Pettis - 24, 13-2
Famous for his "Showtime off-the-wall Kick" and the innovative techniques he manages to execute inside the cage during highly competitive contests, Pettis is a former WEC champion who recently made the jump to the world's largest fight promotion. And while he dropped a close decision in his debut with the UFC, he's still poised to become a staple in the lightweight division for years to come.
5. Alexander Gustafsson - 24, 12-1
They call him "The Mauler" for a reason. 12 wins in 13 career fights and just one of them came by way of decision. His lone defeat, a submission loss to Phil Davis, came in April 2010 and he's since rebounded with three consecutive victories, two submissions and a knockout of Matt Hamill that sent him into retirement.
4. Demetrious Johnson - 25, 14-1
Probably the fastest man in the fight game at 135-pounds, Johnson parlayed wins over Damacio Page, Norifumi Yamamoto and Miguel Torres into a title shot against Dominick Cruz at UFC on Versus 6 on Oct. 1.
3. Rory MacDonald - 22, 12-1
Pegged as the next Georges St. Pierre, the 170-pound MacDonald has shown a freakish combination of size, speed, strength and athleticism rivaled only by the champion of the division and his training partner, the previously mentioned St. Pierre. His lone defeat, a close loss to Carlos Condit, only served to solidify such claims. The future is bright for this one.
2. Jose Aldo - 25, 19-1, UFC featherweight champion
12 wins in a row over the best competition the WEC and UFC could find for him at 145-pounds should say it all. In fact, there are those that feel he could very well become the first simultaneous two-divison champion in the history of the UFC.
1. Jon Jones - 24, 13-1, UFC light heavyweight champion
The most notorious member of the list is also, perhaps, the most talented. His unbelievable size and reach, coupled with an elite training camp and natural ability has combined to make an unstoppable freight train that shows no signs of slowing down. Quinton Jackson and Rashad Evans are waiting in the wings to attempt to dethrone the king of the 205-pound mountain but he's quickly gaining steam as one pound-for-pound great. And maybe, just maybe, the best ever.
That's the list, Maniacs, like it or not. If you've got a problem with it, you know exactly where to voice it. Did they get it right? Or horribly wrong?
Let's see your list.