Are you wondering what the upper and lower MMA and UFC age limits are?
In this article, we’ll explain what the upper and lower MMA and UFC age limits are, and whether there’s an amateur MMA age limit, a TUF age limit, and a DWCS age limit.
What Are the Upper and Lower MMA & UFC Age Limits?
The majority of State Athletic Commissions dictate that for competition, amateur and professional MMA has a minimum age limit of 18 years old, while there isn’t an upper MMA age limit. As the various State Athletic Commissions oversee UFC events, this also represents the UFC age limits.
Having said that, different countries and athletic commissions in the USA have different rules.
For example, the California State Athletic Commission doesn’t have lower or upper MMA age limits, while MMA fighters must be 18-38 years of age to be licensed to fight by the Nevada Athletic Commission.
However, special licenses may be granted to those outside the age range with special commission approval. For MMA fighters over the age of 38, and especially those with plenty of professional MMA experience, the license is granted without a second thought.
Randy Couture famously fought at the age of 47 years and 10 months in his last fight at UFC 129, and the oldest 17 UFC fighters were all 41 years or more.
There have been many MMA fighters competing in promotions outside of the UFC in their early 50s. For example, Jeff Monson was 51 years old in his last fight.
The MMA and UFC lower age limit of 18 is much stricter for health and safety reasons related to inexperience and brain injury during developmental years.
However, in 2022, Raul Rosas Jr fought on Dana White’s Contender Series aged 17 after he applied to the Nevada State Athletic Commission for a Combative Sports Professional License.
They approved the license after footage of Raul fighting was sent to them and he was clearly fighting at a professional level.
So, while the MMA and UFC age limit depends on each State Athletic Commission, they’re all looking at the same criteria and will accept an applicant based on the following.
Taken from the California State Athletic Commission website, they have no MMA age limit but are looking for:
- Licensure with another Commission
- Actual age
- Number of fights
- Number of identified injuries
- Number of knockouts suffered
- Amateur MMA record over the last 2 years
- Previous martial arts experience
- Fight footage from previous fights
This is the same or at least very similar criteria the NSAC looks at when someone under the age of 18 applies for a Combative Sports Professional License (Professional MMA license).
If a fighter has fought under the age of 18 in one State or country, they’re much more likely to get licensed in the next.
Other examples of MMA and UFC fighters fighting professionally under the age of 18 include Michael McDonald, who made his amateur debut at 14 and his professional MMA debut at 16 years old in 2007.
He fought at Gladiator Challenge, an MMA promotion based in Porterville, California.
Lastly, current UFC fighter, Iasmin Lucindo, turned professional at 14 years old and had her first fight aged 15 in 2007 in Brazil.
And while most countries around the world follow the lead of the State Athletic Commissions in America regarding the MMA age limit of 18+ and proper criteria for those under 18, it’s best to contact the relevant commission overseeing the MMA event you want to compete in if you’re outside the USA.
Is There an Amateur MMA Age Limit?
Most Athletic State Commissions in the US also have an amateur MMA age limit of 18 years old to start competing, the same as professional.
If you want to start competing in amateur MMA, you must contact the sanctioning body of the event you want to fight for and ask for their registration requirements.
You must also contact the promoter of the event for more information on their amateur MMA age limit and how you can fight with them.
Much like acquiring the Combative Sports Professional License, most amateurs can get the amateur MMA age limit of 18 waived if they have proof of great physical and mental condition, martial arts experience, previous amateur bouts, fight footage, and a reference from coaches at the gym you’re training at.
IMMAF competitions start as young as 12 to 13 years old and up to the senior competition, which is 18 years and older on the first day of competition.
Is There a UFC Age Limit for The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) or DWCS?
The UFC age limit for entry into TUF is 21 years old up to 34 years old. Applicants in this age range must also be legally able to work and live in America, as TUF is always held there.
Although this is the official age range for TUF, on TUF season 31 in 2023, Kurt Holobaugh is 36 years old. This means it’s worth applying if you’re outside the age range because they may make exceptions. The exception for Kurt Holobaugh is that he’s a former UFC fighter.
The lower UFC age limit for Dana White’s Contender Series is 18 with no upper limit.
However, as Raul Rosas Jr did, acquiring the Combative Sports Professional License under the age of 18 to compete on DWCS can be acquired through special licensing by applying to the overseeing State Athletic Commission.
As Dana White’s Contender Series is held at the UFC Apex, it will be the Nevada State Athletic Commission you need to apply to.
The Bottom Line
So, ‘what are the upper and lower MMA and UFC age limits?’
UFC age limits are stipulated by the MMA age limits, which are stipulated by the various State Athletic Commissions.
Most of these commissions have a lower MMA age limit of 18 and no upper age limit, but some do have either 38 or 40 as their upper limit, and some commissions have no MMA age limits.
So, while these make the lower UFC age limit 18 with no upper limit, the limits can be waived by applying to the necessary commission.
They will accept an under-age fighter based on several conditions, but the most important is showing to be at a professional level via fight footage and previous experience.