Is 18 Too Late to Start MMA?

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Many sports are challenging to become a professional in, unless you begin learning at a young age. That’s why so many individuals wonder if it’s too late to start MMA at the age of 18. While it is true that starting early offers benefits, many professional fighters enter the sport later and reach the most outstanding levels. 

There are two reasons why you should be aware of MMA age restrictions. Either you believe you are too young to fight or are unsure if you are too old to participate in MMA. Let’s get down to the business of age limits. 

If you’re competing in a State Athletic Commission-sanctioned fight in the United States, then you must be at least 18 years old. The minimum age limit is in place to protect you from significant damage during your formative years. 

What Age Is Too Late to Start MMA Training?

When it comes to starting MMA training, there’s no age restriction. You may start training for the sport at any age, even if you’re 50 years old. If you would like to compete at a professional level, getting a head start at a young age is a smart idea. There’s no need to worry about 18 being too late to start MMA training!

Although there is no official maximum age restriction for competitive MMA, specific sanctioning organizations, such as the ISCF, have a notional upper age limit of 40 years old that can be waived. However, continuing to compete competitively in MMA into your senior years is a personal decision based on your body’s ability to cope with repetitive damage. Many schools teach BJJ (Brazilian jiu-jitsu) to children as young as four. 

When these students reach the ages of 13 and 14, and as their adult bodies start growing, some will eventually convert to MMA. Allowing youngsters the time and chance to acquire the necessary mobility, speed, and technique for MMA will offer them a significant edge later in their careers. Learning to deal with fighting is an essential component of growing as a fighter, especially in the early years.

Can I Still Make It as a Professional Fighter if I Start Training MMA at 18?

There is no hard and fast rule that dictates whether or not you can make it as a pro fighter if you start training before the age of 18. Fighters start competing at very different ages. Some people start MMA in their teens; others start as adults. There are plenty of fighters who start their MMA training later than 18 and have successful careers. 

If you begin training before the age of 18, no rule says you won’t be able to make it as a professional fighter. MMA is unique when compared to other sports in this way, as running backs in the NFL or basketball players in the NBA typically need to start formal training from a very early age to have any elite success. 

Several fighters began their MMA training beyond the age of 18 and had great careers. An MMA fighter’s prime years are often between 29 and 33. At the age of 18, Israel Adesanya, the current UFC middleweight champion, began training in kickboxing. He didn’t begin full-fledged MMA training until much later. 

When Holly Holm was 30, she fought for the first time in the octagon. Randy Couture fought for the first time at the age of 34 and became a legend. These individuals have extensive expertise in various combat sports before entering MMA. 

But what about the common man or woman? When is it too late to begin an MMA career? Every person is unique, but the body typically begins to deteriorate around our early to mid-30s. That is why most MMA competitors retire between the ages of 35 and 40. 

It’s probably too late if you’re near that age. However, just because you’re that age or older doesn’t mean you can’t begin competing. Although it is incredibly unusual, individuals in their 40s make their MMA debuts.

Why Is MMA Different From Other Sports in This Regard?

Different sorts of exercise and sports are healthy at different ages, but they can also be restricting. In most sports, there are rare examples of persons who enter the sport late and achieve extraordinary levels of success. MMA, on the other hand, is not like other sports. 

Because it’s a newer sport, there’s still a lot of space for improvement. It’s also because overall athleticism works well in mixed martial arts. Despite starting their careers late, athletes from other sports have had varying degrees of success in MMA. 

A former NFL football player turned MMA fighter in his 30s, Greg Hardy claims that he is still going strong. It will be much easier for you to make the shift if you already have a solid martial arts background, but that is not always a prerequisite. 

MMA differs from other sports because it can be practiced until any age and be competed in at any age as long as you comply with regulatory exemptions. MMA caters to both male and female groups, and MMA training is excellent as a form of self-defense. Many other sports have specific age limits, and some are still gender-specific.

Due to the perils of the game and injuries on the field, most football players are compelled to resign for training and professional employment before the age of 30. The average age at which a basketball player retires is 36 to39 years old. Due to physical limitations, only a few players have been able to play past the age of 40. 

A soccer player’s average retirement age is 35 years old. Of course, this varies based on the player’s field position and the level of competition in which they compete. The average retirement age in gymnastics is presently 26 years old.

It’s self-evident that the prime years of athletic performance, as well as peak performance, occur sooner in modern times. You may, however, be able to defy all chances and be the exception to the norm, despite your age and restrictions.


There have been fighters who have had significant professional MMA success and began training late in life. Obviously, gaining athleticism and superb hand-eye coordination early on in other sports is a huge asset. Starting MMA beyond the age of 25 or 30 is doable, but it will necessitate a more severe training regimen in order to avoid the long learning curve that comes with years of martial arts expertise. 

Attaining a competitive level of fighting expertise takes around three to five years of hard work; therefore, training is crucial. You may go into MMA in your older years by combining your natural abilities with a rigid training plan that includes both striking and grappling. Starting MMA later in life doesn’t mean you have to compete right away. 

As a pastime, MMA teaches you a variety of practical techniques that will help you defend yourself and keep you in good shape well into your senior years. Check out our blog for additional information on the best UFC and MMA fighters and other combat sports news. You’ll be surprised at how many successful fighters did not begin their training as children.

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