The combined age of UFC Vegas 14’s Kay Hansen and opponent Cory McKenna is a whopping 42, several years younger, for example, than Anderson Silva, who fought just a few weeks ago.
The pair of 21-year olds are the featured preliminary fight at this weekend’s Las Vegas-based event. Not a bad placement for a pair of prospects who just hit legal drinking age in the U.S.
However, obsession over age can lead to tunnel vision when it comes to what these young fighters have actually accomplished. In Hansen’s case, she’s been fighting on a big stage in Invicta FC since day one. Upon making her debut in the octagon earlier this year, she pulled off an arm-bar submission of former Invicta champ Jinh Yu Frey. Even Ronda Rousey took notice.
Hansen, for one, isn’t bothered by all the attention her youth is getting. “People are going to focus on whatever they want to focus on. We both are very young prospects, but we’re both very promising,” she told Cageside Press during the UFC Vegas 14 media day this week. “Our age is kind of interesting, considering how promising we both are. So it makes sense that people are focusing on that. I don’t necessarily mind it.”
In her match-up with McKenna, Hansen, with four submission wins, would seem to have the advantage on the ground. That doesn’t necessarily mean taking the fight down is her goal, however, as the California native feels she has the edge in all areas.
“I’m looking to keep this wherever it goes. I’m not forcing anything this fight, I’m just going to let things play out how they play out,” Hansen explained, adding that “I feel like we’re both young, we’re both well-rounded, but I feel like I’m a little sharper everywhere, whether it’s on the feet or on the ground.”
When it comes to the UFC’s next generation — fighters like Chase Hooper, Edmen Shahbazyan, and Maycee Barber — there’s something of an obsession with beating Jon Jones’ record as youngest UFC champ. At least among fans. And a few of the athletes themselves. Barber, for example, was keeping a countdown clock on her phone.
Hansen is a little more pragmatic, for her part. “It would be awesome and I think if I do what I can do and what I’m capable of, I’ll get there. But for me, I’m just focused one fight at a time,” she said. “I’m here for the long run, I’m here to be the best, I’m here to be the Cowboy, to be the Justin Gaethje. I want to be a champion, and I want to be respected. One fight at a time, I’m going to climb to the top of the strawweight division.”
A career like Cowboy and Gaethje, two future Hall of Famers, would certainly be an impressive feat in itself.
Watch the full UFC Vegas 14 media day scrum with Kay Hansen above. The event takes place this Saturday, November 14 at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas, NV.