This article was first published in 2010. Data is accurate as of 2010.
It’s fair to say that age has been a constant topic of conversation at recent UFC events.
Leading up to UFC 110 there was much discussion over the idea of a ‘changing of the guard’, with ageing fighters like Mirko Cro Cop (35), Wanderlei Silva (33), and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira (33) being under suspicion of potentially being past their best.
The previous month at UFC 109 the oldest competitor on the roster, 46 year old Randy Couture took on the second oldest, 45 year old Mark Coleman in the headline bout. On the same card retirement was a distinct possibility for the loser of the Matt Serra Vs Frank Trigg bout, two ‘veterans’ with a combined age of 73.
Coming out of these two events I began to wonder, what exactly is the average age of a UFC fighter?
Since I found it difficult to find a definitive answer I decided to work it out for myself. Here’s what I found out.
- The average age of the fighters currently competing in the UFC is 29.5 years old.
- The most common age is 28.
- The youngest competitor is Rory Macdonald who is just 20 years of age.
- The oldest competitor is Randy Couture at 46 years old.
- Average Age: 28
- Most Common Age: 25
- Youngest Fighter: Dan Lauzon (21)
- Oldest Fighter: Sean Sherk (36)
- Current Champion: BJ Penn (31)
- Average Age: 28
- Most Common Age: 29
- Youngest Fighter: Rory Macdonald (20)
- Oldest Fighter: Marcus Davis / Matt Hughes (36)
- Current Champion: Georges St.Pierre (28)
- Average Age: 30
- Most Common Age: 28
- Youngest Fighter: Alan Belcher (25)
- Oldest Fighter: Jorge Rivera (38)
- Current Champion: Anderson Silva (34)
- Average Age: 31
- Most Common Age: 32
- Youngest Fighter: Jon Jones (22)
- Oldest Fighter: Randy Couture (46)
- Current Champion: Lyoto Machida (31)
- Average Age: 31
- Most Common Age: 33
- Youngest Fighter: Stefan Struve (22)
- Oldest Fighter: Anthony Perosh (37)
- Current Champion: Brock Lesnar (32)
So as you can see the UFC has a fairly mature roster with each division averaging out either just north or south of 30 years old.
The most interesting finding for me though was how the divisions differ when it comes to the number of fighters who are 30 years old or over (as depicted in the pie charts above).
In the lightweight and welterweight divisions roughly two thirds of the competitors are under the age of 30, which should help ensure the longevity of those weight-classes. The middleweight division meanwhile has an adequate 50/50 split.
Things swing completely the other way when it comes to the heavier weight-classes however, with nearly two thirds of the light-heavyweight division being in their 30’s, and in the heavyweight division an overwhelming majority of 74% are 3o or over.
The figures highlight how the heavyweight division in particular has struggled to produce young talented fighters in significant numbers. Even the winner of last seasons heavyweight based TUF series (which has often been a vehicle for younger talent to break through), proved to be a 33 year old veteran, Roy Nelson.
It’s no surprise that a number of the older fighters mentioned at the start of this article, such as Couture, Nogueira and Cro Cop have all been familiar fixtures in the division in recent years.
It makes the few young fighters they do have, such as Stefan Struve (22), Todd Duffee (24) and Junior Dos Santos (25), particularly precious commodities, as they will help form the backbone of the division in years to come.
The same is somewhat true at light-heavyweight where fighters like Jon Jones (22) and Phil Davis (25) are currently being nurtured in the hopes that they can become future champions in the division.
At the same time, aquiring prospects outside the promotion, with the 24 year old Gegard Mousasi being a prime example, should be seen as essential in the future to ensure the continued success of the division.
It will be interesting to see how these figures change in the next 5-10 years as the sport continues to grow and evolve. The belief has always been that as the sport grows in popularity, so will the number of youngsters who want to become involved in mixed martial arts. If true that should lead to a dip in the average age of the competitors in the UFC.
That’s all for now, but stay tuned for the next part of this feature when we’ll be looking at the experience factor in the UFC.