UFC bantamweight Rani Yahya does not see himself as ‘past his prime’ as a fighter despite nearing his 38th birthday last month.
Yahya was originally scheduled to meet Cody Garbrandt in July, then moved to October, but that bout was cancelled due to injury for the Brazilian.
Back when the fight was initially announced, many suggested that the UFC was looking to have “No Love,” who held the bantamweight gold before beginning a torrid run of form, return to winning ways against a veteran beyond his peak.
But for 38-year-old Yahya, the notion of a set prime based on a fighter’s age is a myth.
Yahya: “At 26, I Didn’t Have The Experience I Have Now”
During an interview with Talkin’ MMA last month, Yahya was asked whether he feels like he’s still in his prime. The Brazilian is 5-1-1 across his last seven and is coming off back-to-back wins over Ray Rodriguez and Kyung Ho Kang last year.
Discussing the idea of “prime” years, Yahya suggested that there are more factors at play that need combining for a fighter to reach their peak, including experience — something he acknowledged as an advantage that his current self has over the fighter he was 10 years ago.
“This is the thing, the peak for the men, men in general, the strength peak for men is 26 years old. But when I was 26, I didn’t have the experience I have now, I didn’t know how to train for a fight like I do now.
“Then, Dana White said that the peak for UFC athletes is 28, 29. When I was this age, I was felling good, extremely good physically, but now I’ve developed more techniques. So I believe we can reach good performance in different moments in our life,” Yahya added. “My career is long. I’ve been fighting for a long time, and I had different great performances in different moments… I feel hungry to be back in there.”
If his fight with Garbrandt is rescheduled for a third time, Yahya could have an opportunity to claim the biggest scalp of his MMA career to date, In the meantime, Yahya may be learning that with age, the body is generally more prone to injury than in one’s younger years.
Nevertheless, if the late-career successes of Glover Teixeira, José Aldo, and Francisco Trinaldo have taught us anything, it’s that age is just a number in many instances. Yahya will look to join that trio of fellow Brazilians when he inevitably makes his return to the Octagon.
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