The 15 Best over-35 Fighters in the UFC

Craig AmosFeatured ColumnistMarch 21, 2013

The 15 Best over-35 Fighters in the UFC

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    In general, the athletic domain is a young person's world, and mixed martial arts is no exception. Rarely will you see a fighter reach or sustain peak performance in their late-thirties and early-forties, which is usually the normal time period where most fighters begin to steadily decline.

    Yet while this holds true more often than not, some fighters break the mold. They are able to cling to the prime of their career well after biology suggests that they should be able to. Others go even further to turn the trend on its head, only reaching the zenith of their game at a time that most of their peers are contemplating retirement.

    Here we will take a look at some of those cases while examining the best 15 UFC fighters that are over the age of 35.

     

    * The order of the list is based on recent performances and overall ability.

15. Anthony Perosh

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    Age: 40

    Perosh edges out Cyrille Diabate for the final spot on this list, but just barely. That he holds a win over the Frenchmen helps his case, as does the more well-rounded game he employs. Well-rounded may be a bit misleading though, since Perosh is not much of a standup fighter.

    Perosh is 3-2 in the UFC, most recently suffering an embarrassing seven second knockout by Ryan Jimmo. 

    His tendency to get knocked out and his overall ineffectiveness on the feet will forever prevent him from causing too great an impact in the UFC, but his grappling prowess makes him a danger any time he enters the cage.

    Perosh has no upcoming fight in the works as of now. 

14. Sean Pierson

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    Age: 37


    Pierson is just 3-2 in the UFC, but he has only lost to legitimate welterweight stars Jake Ellenberger and Dong Hyun Kim during his time with the promotion.

    At 37, there is little reason to believe that Pierson will ever be able to make it to that next level and defeat top-notch competitors, but he's proven himself capable enough to hold down a job—at least for a while longer.

    Pierson's next opponent is T.J. Waldburger, who he will fight at UFC 161.

13. Rich Franklin

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    Age: 38


    The one-time middleweight champion has fallen on hard times and may be heading for retirement soon, but his recent loss to Cung Le isn't enough to drop him outside the top-15 of over -35 fighters in the UFC.

    Franklin is 5-4 over his last nine bouts, most of which have come against tough fighters. That might not be enough of an accomplishment to preserve the contender status he once held, but it's not like he has become a complete pushover.

    Franklin has no fight scheduled at this time.

12. Yves Edwards

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    Age: 36


    Edwards' most recent stint with the UFC has been moderately successful, though no one will mistake him for a lightweight title contender anytime soon. Realistically, he's more of a gate-keeper.

    That doesn't mean he isn't dangerous, though, as Edwards possesses some of the better hands in the entire division. 

    Edwards has no upcoming fight scheduled just yet, but the "Thugjitsu Master" continues to put on great shows and solid performances, even 60-plus fights into his career.

11. Mike Brown

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    Age: 37


    Brown burst onto the scene back in 2008 when he upset Urijah Faber to take the WEC featherweight title. He would go on to defend the strap twice before losing it to pound-for-pound contender Jose Aldo in 2009.

    Since that time, Brown has struggled to find his footing, posting a 4-3 record. Since joining the UFC, he has gone 2-2, but has won his last two fights.

    Saying Brown is still a legitimate title threat is probably hyperbole, but he is still a solid featherweight competitor, even this late into his career.

    Brown has no upcoming match scheduled as of now.

10. Cung Le

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    Age: 40


    Le is a combat sports legend, but as a mixed martial artist, he's really just an infant.

    With only 11 career fights to his name, Le appears to be in his prime, something evidenced by his recent wins over Patrick Cote and Rich Franklin.

    Precisely where Le fits into the middleweight title picture is a bit confusing, even if Ed Soares thinks he's done enough to challenge for the strap right now. 

    Le doesn't have an upcoming bout scheduled at the moment, but a third win in a row would force people to at least begin to give him consideration as a legitimate top-10 middleweight.

9. Cheick Kongo

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    Age: 37


    The French journeyman was never quite able to become a true heavyweight contender in the UFC, and it's unlikely that he'll break the trend at this point.

    Still, Kongo has been a solid fighter for a long time, and remains so to this day, as evidenced by the 4-1-1 record that he's compiled over his last six outings.

    Ultimately, Kongo is best known for his striking prowess and comic-book physique.

    His next fight is scheduled for UFC 159 on April 27, where he is scheduled to fight the ultra-durable Roy Nelson.

8. Wanderlei Silva

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    Age: 36


    At 36, Silva is obviously not what he once was. In fact, the Silva who now competes is but a shell of "The Axe Murderer" who formerly terrorized Pride FC, providing the sport with some of its most memorable and brutal knockouts ever.

    But even a shell of the once-great Silva is still a good fighter, something evidenced by his recent victory over middleweight contender Brian Stann.

    Still, Silva is just 4-7 over his last 11 fights, which is nothing to write home about. The only reason he can be partly excused from such an ugly record is that he has continued to fight top-flight opponents, even well after the beginning of his decline.

7. Mike Pyle

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    Age: 37


    For most of his career, Pyle was a mid-to-low-level gate-keeper, but he really seemed to have figured it all out sometime during his mid-thirties.

    Since 2010, Pyle has amassed a 6-1 record, with his only loss over that period coming against Rory MacDonald. He is currently riding a three-fight winning streak that is made up entirely of first-round knockouts.

    Pyle will face Gunnar Nelson at UFC 160, and a win will put him smack dab in the middle of the welterweight title fray.

6. Roy Nelson

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    Age: 36


    Nelson will probably never win his way to a UFC title, but he remains a solid heavyweight competitor nine years into his professional career.

    He's currently on a two-fight winning streak, both victories coming via first-round knockout, and has looked as good recently as he ever has.

    Nelson's next fight will be against listmate Cheick Kongo at UFC 159 on April 27.

5. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira

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    Age: 36


    People have forecast the demise of Minotauro's career since he suffered his first knockout defeat in 2008, but he's still going strong, and he's still posting decent results.

    Of course, the 3-3 record he's put up over his last six bouts is not indicative of the type of fighter he once was, but given that he's been saddled with such stellar competition, it isn't all that bad. He remains a solid boxer and wizard on the mat, even if his otherworldly ability to shrug off damage has abandoned him of late.

    Nogueira's next test will come this June when he takes on fellow Brazilian Fabricio Werdum at UFC on Fuel TV 10.

4. Antonio Rogerio Nogueira

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    Age: 36


    Nogueira has spent much of his career in the shadows of his twin brother Antonio Rodrigo, but he's recently carved out a nice chunk of real-estate near the top of the UFC's light heavyweight division for himself.

    Currently ranked as the No. 5 light heavyweight fighter by the official UFC rankings, Nogueira may actually have reached the pinnacle of his MMA career when he defeated Rashad Evans earlier this year.

    He's still on the fringe of the title picture at 205 pounds, but avenging his 2005 loss to Mauricio Rua at UFC 161 would go a long way towards breaking the barrier.

3. Mark Hunt

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    Age: 38


    Fighters aren't supposed to peak in their late-thirties, but apparently no-one told "The Super Samoan" that.

    After starting his career with a 5-1 record, Hunt dropped five-straight contests and looked to be on his way out of MMA. But in spite of his dismal run and aged body, Hunt made it to the UFC when Zuffa bought Pride. He lost in his debut match, though, running his streak to six consecutive defeats.

    The UFC retained Hunt for another fight, which he won, and he then went on to parlay into a four-fight win streak. At 38, he is now set to take on a former UFC heavyweight champion this May, and a win will land him a title shot.

2. Dan Henderson

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    Age: 42


    Henderson, the oldest fighter on the list, is still one of the best in the sport. His last fight was a loss, but it was a close one that came against the uber-talented Lyoto Machida.

    The veteran's two major claims to fame are that he simultaneously held two division titles in Pride FC, and that he possesses one of the most legendary chins in the sport. Henderson's epic battle with Mauricio Rua provides even more assurance that he will forever be immortalized in MMA lore.

    Hendo's next bout will come this June at UFC 161, where he will face off against Rashad Evans.

1. Anderson Silva

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    Age: 37


    Anytime you're ranking fighters in terms of overall talent, Silva is going to top the list. His credentials are undeniable, his abilities are second to none and age has not seemed to have touched him just yet.

    Though his ground-game is good and his takedown defense is sensational, Silva's primary weapon remains his precision striking, which has landed him a total of 20 career knockouts.

    Silva's next fight will come at UFC 162, where he will take on the middleweight division's No. 1 contender, Chris Weidman.