On December 10, 2022, Paul Rosas Jr. wrote his name in the history books as he sits atop the list of youngest UFC fighters of all-time. He was signed by the promotion when he was 17 years old and made his UFC debut a few months ago at just 18 years old and 63 days old – he was born on October 8, 2004.
His first fight was against Jay Perrin, who had an 0-2-0 UFC record heading into the fight. It didn’t take long for Rosas Jr. to do what he does best – taking the fight to the ground. Using his impressive grappling technique, Rosas Jr. forced Perrin to tap out via a rear-naked choke at the 2:44 mark of the first round.
“Man, this is crazy, but I knew I was going to be here at this age. So right now I’m just living the dream. I had no nerves, no pressure, felt free. I’m doing what I love to do. And right now, tonight, I just came to introduce myself, because I’m coming for that belt,” Paul Rosas Jr. exclaimed in his post-fight interview.
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10 Other Youngest UFC Fighters of All-Time
The win for Paul Rosas Jr. brought his UFC record to 1-0-0 as he embarked on what’s supposed to be a special career. In addition to being the youngest fighter to debut in the UFC, Rosas Jr. became the youngest to win his debut match. It’s hard to win in the UFC, but doing it at 18 years old is impressive.
Rosas Jr. already has his next fight scheduled – a bout against Christian Rodriguez at UFC 287 on April 8, 2023. While he was fighting in the prelims in December, this will be his first fight on a main card – the same card that will see Alex Periera defend his middleweight title against challenger Israel Adesanya.
It’ll be the first real test for Rosas Jr., who’s going against a 25-year-old with a 8-1-0 professional record (1-1-0 in the UFC). While Rosas Jr. looks to win his second-straight UFC bout and extend his pro record to 8-0-0, let’s take a look at some of the other youngest UFC fighters to make their debut in the octagon.
10. Nick Diaz – 20 Years, 55 Days
Nick Diaz was born on August 2, 1983 and made his UFC debut on September 26, 2003 – he was just 20 years, 55 days old at the time. He was matched up against Jeremy Jackson at UFC 44 and ended up winning with an armbar submission in the third round. It was his third fight and second win against him.
Diaz would fight nine more times in the UFC between April 2, 2004 and November 18, 2006, going 5-4 in those fights – including wins against Robbie Lawler, Drew Fickett, Koji Oishi, Josh Neer, and Gleison Tibau. He would spend the next five years or so with PRIDE FC, DREAM, EliteXC, and Strikeforce.
Diaz made a return to the UFC on October 29, 2011 with a win against BJ Penn. He fought for the Interim UFC Welterweight Championship against Carlos Conduit in 2012, but lost and received another shot at the title against Georges St-Pierre in 2013, but lost again. He retired with a 6-7-1 UFC record.
9. Robbie Lawler – 20 Years, 51 Days
Robbie Lawler was born on March 20, 1982 and made his UFC debut on May 10, 2002 – he was just 20 years, 51 days old at the time. He was matched up against Aaron Riley at UFC 37 and ended up winning by unanimous decision after three rounds. He fought again just one month later against Steve Berger.
Lawler beat Berger and went on to beat Tiki Ghosn in November 2022 to start his UFC career 3-0-0, but went just 1-3 in his next four fights between April 25, 2003 and October 22, 2004. He spent time with PRIDE FC, EliteXC, and Strikeforce between 2006 and 2012 before making a return to the UFC in 2013.
Lawler fought 17 times in the UFC between 2013 and July 2, 2022 – his most recent fight. He went 10-7-0 in those fights and won the UFC Welterweight Championship on December 6, 2014 in a rematch against Johnny Hendricks – Lawler defended the belt two times before losing it to Tyron Woodley in 2016.
8. Larissa Pacheco – 20 Years, 6 Days
Larissa Pacheco was born on September 7, 1994 and made her UFC debut on September 13, 2014 – she was just 20 years, 6 days old at the time. She was matched up against an iconic fighter in Jessica Andrade, who was just 23 years old at the time – making it one of the youngest matchups in UFC history.
Pacheco lost to Andrade via a guillotine choke submission with just 27 seconds remaining in the first round. Her next UFC fight was against Germaine de Randamie on March 14, 2015, but she would end up losing that fight as well – this time by a technical knockout just two minutes into the second round.
She broke her arm during that fight and was forced to undergo a three-year recovery that included several surgeries on her arm. Pacheco was eventually featured The Ultimate Fighter 28, but she lost in the quarterfinals. She has since fought in the Professional Fighters League, where she won the 2022 PFL Women’s Lightweight Championship.
7. Naoki Inoue – 20 Years, 3 Days
Naoki Inoue was born on June 14, 1997 and made his UFC debut on June 17, 2017 – just three days after celebrating his 20th birthday. He was matched up against Carls John De Tomas and ended up winning the fight by unanimous decision after three rounds – starting his career with a 1-0-0 record.
His next fight was scheduled to be against Jenel Lausa, but he had to withdraw from the fight due to an injury. He later returned to the UFC on June 23, 2018 for a bout against Matt Schnell, but lost the fight by split decision after three rounds. It was the first professional loss of Inoue’s career, who was now 11-1-0.
Unfortunately, that was the last time we saw Inoue fight in the UFC. In the years since, Inoue has fought in Cage Fury FC, DEEP, and Rizin FF. He last fought on December 31, 2022 and now has an 18-3-0 record after winning 7 of his last 8 fights – including 6 of his last 7 fights in the Rizin FF promotion.
6. Song Yadong – 19 Years, 358 Days
Song Yadong was born on December 2, 1997 and made his UFC debut on November 25, 2017 – just one week before celebrating his 20th birthday. He was matched up against Bharat Kandare and ended up winning the fight by a guillotine choke submission with just 44 seconds remaining in the first round.
Yadong has remained in the UFC ever since and has an 8-2-1 record in the UFC between 2017 and 2022 – including wins against Felipe Arantes, Vince Morales, Alejandro Perez, Marlon Vera, Casey Kenney, Julio Arce, and Marlon Moraes. His most recent fight was a loss against Cory Sandhagen.
His loss to Sandhagen snapped a three-fight win streak for Yadong, but he has an opportunity to bounce back with a fight against Ricky Simon scheduled for April 23, 2023 – it’ll be Yadong’s 12th fight in the UFC. Over his UFC career, he has won Performance of the Night four times and Fight of the Night once.
5. Jake Matthews – 19 Years, 313 Days
Jake Matthews was born on August 19, 1994 and made his UFC debut on June 28, 2014 – less than two months before celebrating his 20th birthday. He was matched up against Dashon Johnson and ended up winning the fight via a triangle choke submission a little more than three minutes into the first round.
Matthews has remained in the UFC ever since and has an 11-6-0 record in 17 fights between 2014 and 2022. His most recent fight was a loss to Matthew Semelsberger by unanimous decision on December 17, 2022. He had a fight scheduled for May 2023, but had to withdraw from the bout due to an injury.
Matthews has lost two of his last three fights, but won six of his seven fights between 2017 and 2020 – including wins against Bojan Velickovic, Li Jingliang, Shinsho Anzai, Rostem Akman, Emil Meek, and Diego Sanchez. He won Fight of the Night two times and Performance of the Night once in his career.
4. Vitor Belfort – 19 Years, 312 Days
Vitor Belfort was born on April 1, 1977 and made his UFC debut on February 7, 1997 – less than two months before celebrating his 20th birthday. He was matched up against Tra Telligman and ended up winning the fight via a technical knockout (elbows) a little more than one minute into the first round.
Belfort went 5-1-0 in six UFC fights between 1997 and 1998 – including wins against Scott Ferrozzo, David Abbott, Joe Charles, and Wanderlei Silva. He then took his talents to PRIDE FC until making a return to the UFC in June 2022 – winning the UFC Light Heavyweight Championship in January 2004.
He was unable to defend the title and later took another four-year hiatus from the UFC, but made a return in 2009. Belfort went 8-6-1 in the UFC between 2009 and 2018 and had three opportunities at a title (middleweight and light heavyweight), but lost all three fights against Anderson Silva, Jon Jones, and Chris Weidman.
3. Chanmi Jeon – 19 Years, 286 Days
Chanmi Jeon was born on August 28, 1997 and made her UFC debut on June 10, 2017 – a little more than two months before celebrating her 20th birthday. At the time, Jeon was riding an impressive five-fight win streak, two of which came in the South Korea Regional and three of which came in the ALL FC.
She was matched up against JJ Aldrich in her UFC debut, but ended up losing the fight via unanimous decision after three rounds. She fought her second UFC bout three months later, but lost that fight to Syuri Kondo via a split decision after three rounds. Unfortunately, it marked the end of her UFC career.
Jeon went on to fight Shizuka Sugiyama in the Double G FC on March 30, 2019, but lost the fight via unanimous decision – marking her third straight loss and bringing her pro record to 5-3-0 after winning the first five fights of her career – four of which came by way of knockout. She hasn’t fought since 2019.
2. Sage Northcutt – 19 Years, 216 Days
Sage Northcutt was born on March 1, 1996 and made his UFC debut on October 3, 2015 – roughly five months before celebrating his 20th birthday. He was matched up against Francisco Trevino and ended up winning the bout by way of technical knockout (punches) less than one minute into the first round.
Northcutt stayed in the UFC for three years and went 6-2-0 in his UFC career – including wins against Cody Pfister, Enrique Martin, Michel Quinones, Thibault Gouti, and Zak Ottow. His most recent win (vs. Ottow) came on July 14, 2018. Two of his wins came via knockout – including Ottow and Trevino.
Northcutt left the UFC in 2018 and joined ONE Championship – where he has fought for the past five years. He has a bout against Ahmed Mujtaba scheduled for May 5, 2023 at ONE Fight Night 10. As of today, he has a professional MMA record of 11-3-0 in 14 fights – including a 5-0-0 record prior to his UFC days.
1. Dan Lauzon – 18 Years, 198 Days
Dan Lauzon was born on March 30, 1988 and made his UFC debut on October 14, 2006 – just five months before celebrating his 19th birthday. Lauzon was the youngest fighter to ever make his UFC debut until Paul Rosas Jr. took over that title last year – Lauzon was 135 days older than Rosas Jr. for his debut.
Unlike Rosas Jr., Lauzon went on to lose his UFC debut against Spencer Fisher, who was almost 12 years older than Lauzon at the time. Fisher knocked Lauzon out with just 22 seconds remaining in the first round. After the loss, Lauzon beat Bobby Green in his first and only fight under the Affliction promotion.
Lauzon made his return to the UFC on January 2, 2010, but lost the bout against Cole Miller via an inverted triangle submission. He lost his third-straight UFC fight against Efrain Escudero on May 29, 2010. He last fought in 2015 with CES MMA and retired with a 17-6-0 professional MMA record.
Who Are the Greatest UFC Fighters of All-Time?
The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) was founded in 1993 with UFC 1 taking place on November 12, 1993. At the time, it followed a bracket style that started with eight fighters in a win or go home fashion. Gerard Gordeau and Royce Gracie made it to the final, with Gracie winning by submission.
Over the past 20 years, the UFC has grown substantially and is now the largest MMA promotion in the world. Some of the greatest UFC fighters to ever grace the octagon include Jon Jones, Anderson Silva, Georges St-Pierre, Amanda Nunes, Khabib Nurmagomedov, Conor McGregor, and BJ Penn.
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Looking at the UFC as it stands today, some of the best pound-for-pound UFC fighters include Jon Jones, Alexander Volkanovski, Amanda Nunes, Alexa Grasso, Islam Makhachev, Leon Edwards, Zhang Weili, Valentina Shevchenko, Israel Adesanya, Alex Pereira, Rose Namajunas, and more.
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