Oregon-based submission ace Glena "Heartless" Avila said on March 5 in an exclusive interview with Long Island MMA Examiner Eric Holden that she is open to fighting either Tuff-N-Uff veteran Jordan Nicole "The Ninja Princess" Gaza or Invicta FC standout Paige "12 Gauge" VanZant.
Avila, 37, says age ain't no thing but a chicken wing, and that she would love to test her skills against one of the top up-and-coming prospects in women's MMA.
"What does that have to do with anything? We're all pro fighters with similar records," Avila said. "Besides it's weight classes, not age classes."
Avila is 17 years older than Gaza, and close to double VanZant's age, but "Heartless" thinks that shouldn't matter.
"It's more like record and experience level," Avila said of MMA matchmaking. "I know for a fact Jordan [Gaza] wasn't bothered by it since we were already supposed to fight, until she suffered an unfortunate ankle injury and had to pull out, and Paige doesn't seem intimidated by anyone."
The UFC rarely matches grizzled veterans in their late-30s up against young up-and-comers in their early-20s, even if record and experience match up.
It happens occasionally, but far more common are athletes in their mid-30s taking on fighters similar in age. UFC President Dana White famously put the kebash on a Jon Jones vs Anderson Silva superfight a couple years back because Jones is 12 years younger.
Gaza thinks it's a bit different when it comes to women's MMA. "I don't think it happens so much for females," Gaza said of matchmaking based on age. "Most of my opponents besides my first ammy fight and Paige VanZant haven't been even close to my age. Age doesn't and shouldn't matter! I've fought a 39 year old and got beat! We are all athletes!"
Gaza already has a fight lined up against Amber Stautzenberger, at DFC 15 on Apr. 20. As for VanZant, she seems to be angling for a rematch against Gaza at the Invicta FC 6 event in July.
Avila has no fights lined up, but calling out tough up-and-comers is a good way to catch the eye of Invicta FC matchmakers. Time will tell how the situation plays out.