At first, one may think due to safety issues, a man 70-years-old has no business fighting in professional mixed martial arts. And in almost every case you would be right, but not in the case of John Williams.
Although he had passed numerous tests proving he was physically and medically capable of getting into the cage, and he had been training martial arts for years, he was still met with resistance from the athletic commission.
Williams was not deterred. He told MMAFighting,
“I went and got information on discrimination towards a person because of age, and I realized that if I say this is my job and I’m physically capable of doing the job, there was no way in the world they could stop me. This had nothing to do with risk factors. When you know what you’re doing, MMA is safe. I could have done an amateur thing or an exhibition, but no, I wanted to do a real fight.”
Williams finally got his fight against a 49-year-old car salesman named Larry Brewbaker. The fight took place on July 24, 2010, at “Elite 1 – Wild Card” in Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada.
Not only did Williams set the world record by being the oldest person to ever compete in a professional MMA bout, but he won via second round ankle lock!
Williams talked about how much the fight meant to him,
“The point of life is living it. And I tell you, I got in that cage and I felt alive. I felt human again. You get that thing over your head, people think you’re 70 and you don’t know [expletive]. They don’t bother to get to know you. I like Eminem. I like rap music. …Mentally, I feel the same as I did when I was 30. I like the same kind of cars and the same kinds of women. Nothing’s changed for me, but there’s this stereotype. You don’t change, but they try and make you fit a mold and be something you don’t want to be, which is an old person. Not me. I’ve been a fighter all my life.”
This was not even the first world record for Williams. In the 1970’s he set a world record with 13 straight hours of judo throws, and then set another record by breaking an 11-inch thick piece of ice with a single blow.
There may be someone out there who will do 14 hours of judo throws and probably someone who can or already has broken a foot or more of ice with a single blow. However, chances are John Williams’ record as the oldest professional MMA fighters is probably safe for many years to come, or at least until Randy Couture becomes a septuagenarian.