Caol Uno was a lightweight contender for the UFC more than ten years ago, taking champions Jens Pulver and BJ Penn to the limit in some of the biggest events of the day.
He would eventually go back to his native Japan to ply his trade, before a return to the UFC in 2009. Uno then struggled, failing to win a bout in three tries.
But at 39, he’s on the comeback trail now — at featherweight. In the last two years, Uno, whose MMA record stands at 32-16-5, has won six bouts in a row for Japan’s Shooto promotion (and its sister event, Japan Vale Tudo). Uno’s winning form has inspired several MMA journalists to call for another UFC run.
(It’s unclear how realistic that is. Lee Li of Asia MMA describes an exchange with UFC President Dana White, where White remarked “He’s still fighting? How old is that guy?”)
Uno’s longest unbeaten streak was an eight bout stretch between 1998 and 2000, where he beat the likes of Rumina Sato and Dennis Hallman — and drew a bout with a man who is now one of MMA’s most accomplished trainers, Andre Pederneiras.
Now, Uno earned a shot at Shooto’s vacant Pacific Rim Championship at 143 lbs. at Shooto’s first big event of 2015.
At Shooto 1st Round 2015 at Korakuen Hall in Tokyo on January 25, Uno will face Yoshifumi Nakamura for the vacant strap. The 26 year old Nakamura has earned a 17-5 record as a pro, and has won four straight bouts.
Shooto is the longest running promotion in MMA, with events dating back to 1985.