The Importance of Age

MMA Betting: The Importance of Age

By Loot, Mixed Martial Arts Handicapper,

Ring Age vs. Chronological Age

Fighters really have two ages–the one that you can figure out by looking at a birth certificate and the other being determined by the wear and tear on their bodies. Certain stereotypes are made on the basis of age. They are typically correct, but looking at their chronological age doesn’t tell the whole story. Sometimes, it can even be misleading.

If you want to know how old a fighter is, look less at the number of years he has lived and more to how many fights he had, how many wars he has been in, how much punishment he has absorbed and for how long. Then pay close attention to how many times a fighter has been knocked out. Chins certainly do not age like fine wine. And they seldom become stronger over time. A fighter can learn better defense and how to roll with strikes better, but the chin itself normally erodes with each successive knockout.

Chuck Liddell is an extreme example of a chin getting worse with each successive knockout, but it goes to show that age has little to do with numbers. During the roughly-three years he reigned as UFC Light Heavyweight Champion, he didn’t age perceptibly at all. His fall from grace lasted the same amount of time as his reign and in that time–he aged 15 years as a fighter.

Some of us get sore to the point of not wanting to move from gardening. Imagine being an MMA fighter with the way they train. Nagging injuries add up over time. A veteran fighter might have a pretty compelling list of excuses why he can’t run today or why he’s calling off Thursday’s workout. It’s part of getting older. That fighter might still be hungry, but the body stops cooperating after a while, particularly after a grueling MMA career.

Everyone is different. People are built differently. What might make one man fold can barely affect a different guy. In other words, there is no conversion chart available to determine whether or not a fighter has reached his expiration date. All we can do is watch and keep tabs. When a fighter hits a wall, there are usually signs and as betting men, we need to know how to look for them. These aren’t NFL place kickers. A fighter’s abilities and effectiveness can fall off dramatically over the course of just a few fights.

The Age Gap

In the top organizations of MMA, you see many fighters taking on opponents who are in the same stage of their careers. New fighters fight other newcomers. Fighters in their prime take on other fighters who are peaking. Ex-champs face other former champions. And it can go on like that for the most part.

Then all of a sudden, they’ll throw a wrench into the plan. You’ll see a relative newcomer facing a fading old champion or a veteran contender taking on a fresh face. Look for spots, for example, when a veteran fighter has been facing other guys his age for many fights in a row and then takes on a young kid. It can be a whole different ballgame.


You see a lot of fighters holding their own against other guys in their bracket, only to fall apart dramatically when facing a young upstart. It’s a fine line. Sometimes fighters do worse against veterans, but then shine against the newer breed of fighters. It depends on a fighter’s style. If a fighter is a tricky veteran, it might be harder for him to work his magic against fellow old hands who know what they’re doing. Younger fighters might be more vulnerable to the same moves.

There really are no set rules, as it depends on the situation. It’s just a good idea to take note of the age component when handicapping MMA fights. There is so much to consider that it can be easy to lose sight of this important aspect. But when a fighter is facing 35 and 40-year olds continuously and then gets in the octagon with a 24-year old, that can severely affect the complexion of a fight.

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