Dan Henderson shocked a lot of people with his knockout victory over Hector Lombard at UFC 199. Even as he was walking into the Octagon that night, many people were thinking it was time for him to retire.
But hell hath no fury like an old man being told he is too old. Whether it's Peyton Manning or Brett Favre, sometimes great athletes hang out a bit too long. No where is that more visible than in the world of combat sports. Fighters can grow old right in front of your eyes, and when they do, it's not pretty. It's just a sad reminder that age will eventually get us all.
But some fighters have proved that while age slows them down, the are still competitive. They still have the drive. They still can occasionally knock a young guy out. Let's take a look at some of combat sports' greatest fighters over 40.
Dan Henderson, at 45, isn't alone.
6. George Foreman
Foreman returned to boxing after a 10-year layoff. He was knocked out by Muhammad Ali, fought a few more fights, then decided to retire. But, of course, he didn't. Instead, Foreman returned, bigger, stronger and whole lot nicer.
During his first run, Foreman came across as mean and nasty. When he returned he was a lovable hero, pushing the sales of the George Foreman Grill. Foreman fought his way back to the top before earning two title shots, both of which he lost, to Evander Holyfield (the Lineal championship) and Tommy Morrison, a newly created WBO championship.
But Foreman kept going and he earned one more title shot, against young heavyweight champion Michael Moorer. Moorer was 27 years old when he stepped inside the ring that night. He was supposed to win. But what's the last thing to guy in an aging fighter? His power.
Foreman decked Moorer in the 10th round and regained the heavyweight championship of the world. After the fight Foreman dropped to his knees and thanked God for his miraculous victory.
5. Roy Jones Jr.
In his prime Roy Jones Jr. punched men like Steph Curry shoots baskets. Jones was wicked quick, punched hard and bursting with confidence. He fought out of an unconventional stance, with his hands low, and still managed to knock people. For several years, Jones was considered the best pound for pound fighter in the world.
Jones won middleweight and heavyweight championships. The only men in history to do so. Eventually people figured Jones out. He doesn't have the greatest jaw, and if you could handle his power, he didn't have much of a back-up plan. Still, at 47, Jones is still fighting today, and is still knocking guys out.
He's one of the best of all time and even though he's not a title contender he can still put on a good show.
4. Randy Couture
The Natural Couture is known for his amazing fights with Chuck Liddell, and for being one of the UFC's originals, a legend who helped launch the sport into the mainstream. He's also the former heavyweight champion of the world.
Couture was 45 years old when he stepped inside the Octagon to fight Brock Lesnar. Lesnar knocked Couture out, but it was a marvelous feat for the legend. Couture, now 52, would return and win three more fights at age 46, 47 and 48.
Couture proved that skilled, determination and a competitive edge into your 40s can keep you hanging with the youngsters.
3. Larry Holmes
Holmes was 39 years old when he fought the undefeated Mike Tyson for the heavyweight championship of the world. Tyson knocked Holmes out in the fourth round, the only time Holmes has ever been knocked out in 75 professional fights.
Holmes, however, didn't let that knockdown stop him. Holmes would fight until he was 52 years old. And he looked good in most of those fights. With his brilliant jab, incredible defense and ring smarts, he was competitive with most middle-tier guys.
Muhammad Al is "The Greatest, " but Holmes may be the greatest heavyweight not named Ali of all-time. Here's Holmes (video clip above) at 50 knocking out Mike Weaver, another heavyweight legend.
2. Bernard Hopkins
If you ever want to see the results of a devastating kidney punch, go watch this fight right now.
Hopkins knocked out Oscar De La Hoya with one wicked body shot. In fighting, the head moves, but the body doesn't. Hopkins folded up De La Hoya like he were a lawn chair, knocking the wind out of him and his career.
Hopkins fought until he was 49 years old. He was 39 years old when he knocked out De La Hoya. Hopkins fought 64 times. He was a master body puncher and counter puncher, one of the best stand-up fighters of all time.
1. Julio Cesar Chavez
Julio Cesar Chavez is undoubtedly one of boxing's greatest fighters. Before he retired he amassed an incredible record of 107 wins, 6 losses and two draws. Chavez began his career 89-0. Yep, you read that right. 89-0. He was a great boxer, and puncher, with great defense.
Chavez knocked out Floyd Mayweather Jr.'s uncle, Roger Mayweather, and a ton of other great fighters of their time. Chavez was a six-time world champion in three different weight divisions. He fought four times over the age of 40, winning three out of those four fights.
All of these fighters prove that often age is just a number. A great fighter always has the ability to win a fight, no matter the odds they face. Just ask Hector Lombard.