It’s that half-a-second; you see the opening, make the move but you get there just a half-a-second too slow. Then, boom! You hear that high pitch ring in your ear. You wonder, to yourself, if you still have what it takes. What happened to the hand speed? Why do my feet feel muddy? Your thoughts turn to the idea that, maybe you just need to train harder. For the first time, self-doubt sets in. When do you know that it is time to quit? It is the hardest thing to do, the hardest thing to know. That inner-struggle between the heart, the mind and the body is the inevitable half-a-second war.
Since 42-year-old Houston Alexander has been scheduled to fight Strikeforce veteran Virgil Zwicker in a 215-pound catchweight bout at Bellator 129 we thought we would ask the question. How old is too old? Alexander (16-10) is perhaps best known for his short-lived time in the UFC in 2007. Alexander has put together somewhat of a winning streak as of late, winning three of his last four fights, all of which he finished via KO/TKO. Although some would argue that the quality of opponents and Alexander’s performance in those fights were less than stellar. Can a 42-year-old man compete or even win a title?
UFC executive Dana White thinks not. Remember when, on “ESPN’s First Take,” Hershcel Walker, 47-year-old former NFL all-star was fighting Mixed Martial Arts in Strikeforce, challenged Dana White to a fight after he criticized the signing? Walker called Dana White out by saying,
“Dana always tells people to put their money where your mouth is and I’ll tell Dana that since he says I’m so old, why doesn’t he step in the ring with me because he’s been practicing (MMA),as well?”
Dana White responded, “Herschel Walker, I guess he’s out there now saying he wants to fight me and everything else. Listen, I’m 40 years old, Okay, and I’m too old to fight. You’re 47. You’re way too old to fight.” But what about Randy Couture (45)? Didn’t he win a UFC Title? Granted, Herschel Walker is no Randy Couture. But hey, Herschel was in amazing condition.
And what about George Foreman? He was 45 when he became boxing’s oldest heavyweight champion defeating 26-year-old Michael Moorer in the 10th round of their WBA fight in Las Vegas. I loved it when Foreman dedicated his upset win to “all my buddies in the nursing home and all the guys in jail.” But Foreman didn’t hang onto the heavyweight title for long. In March 1995, he was stripped of his WBA title after refusing to fight No. 1 contender Tony Tucker, and he gave up his IBF title in June 1995 rather than fight a rematch with Axel Schulz, whom he’d narrowly beat in a controversial judges’ decision in April of that same year. He retired with a lifetime record of 76-5.
Randy Couture is the oldest champion in UFC history at the age of 45, and he will likely forever hold that distinction. At the age that Anderson Silva was dethroned by Chris Weidman, Couture had just begun a second out of three heavyweight titles. He also still had two stretches as a light heavyweight champion in his future. It wasn’t until he ran into “freak of nature” Brock Lesnar that his days as a champion were over. Even then, as he approached 50 years old, Couture won three of his final four MMA bouts.
Today it would be amazing to see a fighter at Couture’s age reach the height of MMA, it was shocking enough back then. So what about Houston Alexander? Well, he won the war against Virgil Zwicker at Bellator 129 last night but lost a point due to an illegal headbutt resulting in a majority draw. He also won the “Half-A-Second War” with himself. So, how old is too old? Ask Houston Alexander…