FanPost

The Prime Age of an MMA Fighter

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via www.sportsnet.ca

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I was curious to know at what age a top MMA fighter's prime typically ends. So, I took every UFC fighter who has at least one successful championship defense and estimated at what age and after how many fights they seemed to really hit a wall. I left out active fighters who could be argued to still be in their prime. Obviously, these points in time will be rather subjective, but I'll do my best in making each decision. Let's get to it.

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Maurice Smith - Age 38 - 22 Matches: I pegged his wall after his last fight prior to a 6 year absence from MMA.

Kevin Randleman - Age 37 - 30 Matches: Tough to peg, but I went with his loss to Whitehead.

Randy Couture - Age 47 - 30 Matches: I don't really see anything that stands out, so I chose his final match. Obviously, this ridiculous man will do nothing to help this study. He's an anomaly.

Tim Sylvia - Age 33 - 30 Matches: It stood out when he ballooned to a Super Heavyweight and got knocked out by Mercer in 9 seconds.

Andrei Arlovski - Age 32 - 24 Matches: Decided to go with his 4th consecutive loss. These lesser champions from weak divisions are difficult to peg, as you can imagine.

Brock Lesnar - Age 34 - 8 Matches: Obviously his short career is meaningless to this study. Also, he seemed to blame his retirement on his fight against diverticulitis.

Frank Shamrock - Age 35 - 32 Matches: Chose his loss to Le.

Tito Ortiz - Age 35 - 24 Matches: I went with his loss to Hamill. Tito also had back issues and a surgery that may have affected his career, although it's tough to take Ortiz seriously when describing his injuries.

Chuck Liddell - Age 38 - 27 Matches: This was a toss-up between his 2nd loss to Rampage or his loss to Rashad. Clearly when Liddell lost his chin, his days were numbered. I decided to go with the loss to Rashad.

Murilo Bustamante - Age 39 - 19 Matches: Threw a dart at the Suloev loss.

Pat Miletich - Age 36 - 36 Matches: Chose his loss to Lindland.

Matt Hughes - Age 37 - 53 Matches: Another toss-up, this time between the Alves TKO or the Penn KO. Like Liddell, Hughes' chin had let him down. I again went with the latter, which was Penn.

Jens Pulver - Age 35 - 35 Matches: Threw a dart at his final WEC match.

Sean Sherk - Age 37 - 41 Matches: Chose his final match.

B.J. Penn - Now, Penn is where I got the idea for this piece. His fans seem to claim that he's past his prime. I didn't really agree with that seeing as how he was just 32 for his last match and hasn't exactly been losing to much-lesser opponents, although I was surprised he lost to Diaz. However, it was a match at welterweight where Penn hasn't had much success at all. Hypothetically, let's assume we chose his last fight. He was 32 years old and it was his 26th match.

Now, before we analyze the results, let's think about what we should expect. You would think the lesser fighters would probably hit a wall at a younger age, considering some of them would probably only be able to defend a title due to weaker competition.

The youngest ages belong to Penn 32, Arlovski 32, and Sylvia 33. These ages stand out because you normally think of physical primes ending around 35 or later. However, I'm not surprised at all by the results for Arlovski and Sylvia. They weren't really that great and ruled when the UFC heavyweight division was very weak. It was so weak in fact that these 2 men fought each other in championship matches 3 times in a span of 17 months. The weakness of the heavyweight division had the retired Couture's mouth foaming so much that he decided to unretire, move up to heavyweight, and challenge for and win the championship. As for Penn, it's no secret that his lightweight division, especially during his 1st run, was weak as well. So maybe he is truly past his prime and his results are very similar to these heavyweights. Hopefully BJ moves back down to lightweight in the near future and can help answer that question.

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