UFC Weight Classes: Explained (2023)

The UFC has come a long way since it was originally a one-night, no-limits, everything-gos tournament. To survive, the UFC needed to make MMA a legitimate sport.

Besides a clear set of rules, the UFC needed something more important to legitimize MMA. weight classes.

For those new to MMA, you may be wondering how they came up with their weight classes. This article explains a complete history of the UFC weight classes.

We'll start by breaking down when weight classes were first introduced in the promotion. Along with that we give you a brief history of each weight class. Include when they were introduced and list the champions for each division.

UFC Weight Classes: Explained (2)

Why were weight classes added?

UFC weight classes have been added for a variety of reasons. One of the main reasons UFC weight classes were added is that they had to be added to legitimize the sport.

If they wanted to be more respected and gain more fans, they had to form weight classes. They could no longer have fights without rules between a huge heavyweight versus a light fighter.

Then, as MMA grew, fighters began to become more complete. This meant the UFC had to level the playing field and match fighters against opponents closer to their weight.

This improved the product dramatically as we saw more exciting fights and famous athletes appeared. Without the gradual addition of weight classes, MMA would not be the sport it is today.

When were the UFC weight classes added?

UFC began adding weight classes in 1997, just 4 years after the promotion began.

They would add two weight classes to UFC 12 tournaments: heavyweight, weighing 200 pounds (90.71 kg) and lightweight, weighing 199 pounds (90.2 kg) or less.

(Video) Ufc weight classes 2021, and ufc weight champions 2021

After this tournament, the UFC would gradually add more weight classes. At UFC 14, the lightweight division would be renamed the middleweight division.

Then at UFC 16, a lightweight division of 77 kg (170 lb) or less was added. He later renamed welterweight as we know it today.

For a time the UFC stuck in these 3 divisions and the results were satisfactory. Fight fans saw the emergence of many talented fighters and high quality fights.

When they reached UFC 26, a 70 kg bantamweight division was added to the promotion.

UFC weight classes wobble

After introducing the original 155-pound bantamweight class, they reorganized the UFC weight classes.

Jens Pulver would later win the inaugural UFC Roosterweight Championship, renamed the UFC Lightweight Division. The 170-pound division was later renamed welterweight and moved from 156 pounds to 170 pounds.

The middleweight division would remain, but a 205-pound (93 kg) light-heavyweight division was added.

Bantamweight and Featherweight

UFC Weight Classes: Explained (3)

No further divisions would be added until 2010, when the Zuffa-owned WEC merged with the UFC. Originally the WEC was created to show smaller weight classes but they became popular and merged.

With the merger we saw the addition of the featherweight class to 145 pounds (66 kg) and the bantamweight class (61 kg).

A year later, promotion added a 125-pound (57 kg) flyweight division with the first fight in 2012.

UFC adds women's divisions

The UFC would buy rival company Strikeforce and with that purchase add the first women's division.

Originally, the first women's division was women's bantamweight, with the first fight occurring in 2013. Then, in 2014, a 115-pound (52 kg) straw-weight UFC women's division was added.

Later, a flyweight division was formed, and lastly, a women's featherweight division was added.

How many UFC weight classes are there today?

Today, in the modern era of MMA, the UFC currently has 12 weight divisions between male and female fighters. 8 UFC men's weight classes and 4 UFC women's weight classes.


UFC weight classes okay

men's weight classes

UFC Weight (Men)weight in poundsWeight in kg
straw weight115 pounds52,5kg
flyweight125 pounds56,7 kg
bantamweight135 pounds61,2kg
Pena145 pounds65,8kg
Luz155 pounds70,3 kg
welterweights170 pounds77,1 kg
medium weight185 pounds83,9kg
light heavyweight205 pounds102,1kg
heavyweight265 pounds120,2 kg

weight classes of women

UFC Weight Classes (Women)weight in poundsWeight in kg
straw weight115 pounds52,5kg
flyweight125 pounds56,7 kg
bantamweight135 pounds61,2kg

UFC weight classes for women

UFC Weight Classes: Explained (4)

The women's divisions of the UFC are a little different than the men's and you might be wondering why. There are actually two specific reasons why women's weight classes look the way they do.

  • Genetics: Human males are generally smaller than human males. Therefore, women's MMA divisions would naturally weight less than half of men's divisions.
  • Smaller Talent Pool – Aside from being smaller than men, there is only a smaller talent pool of women training in MMA. That is why there are fewer women's sections than men's sections.

The UFC Weight Class Guidelines

Weight classes within MMA, not just MMA, have specific rules and guidelines. These weight class guidelines and rules are explained in the Unified Rules of Mixed Martial Arts.

UFC Weight Class Limits

Weight class limits were set to separate fighters by size and make fights more competitive. Fighters who fight at heavyweight are not legally allowed to fight anyone under their weight class. So you'll never see a flyweight fighter fight a heavyweight.

Each weight class has a specific weight, but fighters don't have to enter that exact weight. Fighters can go up to 1 pound over the weight limit or a certain number of pounds under the limit.

For example, if you fight in the UFC welterweight division, your target weight is 170 pounds. This means he can get a pound over 171 pounds or under 160-169 pounds.

UFC Weight Class Rules for Title Fights

The weight class rules for title fights are stricter than the rules for a non-title fight. In a UFC title fight, fighters will not receive a pound over their declared weight.

You must arrive at or under the specified weight for the title fight to be for the title. If a fighter loses weight in a title fight, the fight is no longer a title fight.

What happens when a fighter loses weight?

Every time a fighter loses weight, they have an hour to shed the extra weight. They will continue the weight loss process for an hour before getting back on the scale.

If they interfere again, the fight begins with no penalty. But when they lose weight, they go through a different process based on how many pounds they've lost.

If a fighter loses a little weight, the fight will continue and they will be penalized with a percentage of their fight money. If they're losing more than 5 pounds, that's a bigger problem.

It is usually left up to the offending wrestler's opponent to accept the fight or not. If the opponent accepts, the fight begins and the defaulting fighter is deducted a percentage of their fight money.

In other cases where fighters lose weight by more than 10 pounds, most athletic commissions drop the fight entirely.

Middleweight fights

Catchweight fights are fights that take place between the weight classes established by the UFC. UFC fights where both fighters lose weight but agree to a fight are also considered middleweight fights.

The most notable middleweight fight that took place in the UFC wasNate Diazagainst Jorge Masvidal at UFC 244. They fought for the first BAMF championship created for that fight.

(Video) Who's The GOAT At Every Weight Division?

Will there be more UFC weight classes?

Despite calls from many fighters and critics for more UFC weight classes, there are currently no plans to add new divisions. An atomic weight split for women at 105 pounds was previously discussed but not yet implemented.

If UFC commentatorJoe RoganIf he had his way, the UFC would have divisions for every 10-pound step. From 150 pounds, 160 pounds, 170 pounds, etc.

Division champions timeline

Let's look at the timeline of champions in each UFC weight class that have risen in the UFC rankings, including the current champions holding the belt. Here's a full list of every champion since the beginning of the division.

Heavyweight class 120.2 kg (265 lb)

UFC Weight Classes: Explained (5)

The heavyweight division was the UFC's first official weight division. He initially weighed 200 pounds or more, but increased to 206 pounds to 265 pounds after the introduction of the light heavyweight division. Here is the list of 22 undisputed UFC heavyweight champions since 1997.

  • Marco Colemann:
  • Moritz Smith:
  • Randy Haute Couture
  • bajo rutten
  • Kevin Randlemann
  • Randy Haute Couture
  • Jose Barnett
  • Rich Rodriguez
  • Tim Silvia
  • Frank Mir
  • andrej arlowski
  • Tim Silvia
  • Randy Haute Couture
  • Brock Lesnar
  • Kain Velasquez
  • Junior dos Santos
  • Kain Velasquez
  • Fabricio Werdum
  • Miocene stem
  • Daniel Kormier
  • Miocene stem
  • Francisco Nganou

Interims-Champions: Andrei Arlovski, Antonio Minotauro Nogueira, Frank Mir, Shane Carwin, Fabricio Werdum, Cyril Gane

Light heavyweight 102.1 kg (205 lb)

Originally light heavyweight was middleweight and he went from 186 to 205 pounds (84-93 kg). It was later changed to just 205 pounds on May 4, 2001 at UFC 31. These are the 15 undisputed UFC light heavyweight champions in division history.

  • Frank Klee
  • Tito Ortiz
  • Randy Haute Couture
  • Vitor Belfort
  • Randy Haute Couture
  • Chuck Liddell
  • Quinton Jackson
  • Wald Griffin
  • Rashad Evans
  • Lyoto Machida
  • Maurice Rua
  • Jon Jones
  • Daniel Kormier
  • Jon Jones
  • Jan Blachowicz

Intermediate Winners: Randy Couture, Jon Jones

Medium weight class 83.9 kg (185 lb)

The middleweight division was introduced in 2001 at the same time as the light heavyweight division. The division ranges from 171 to 185 pounds (78 to 84 kg) and there have been 11 undisputed UFC middleweight champions. Here's the full list.

  • David would
  • Murilo Bustamante
  • Eva Tanner
  • Rico Franklin
  • anderson silva
  • Chris Weimann
  • Lukas Rockhold
  • Michael Bisping
  • Jörg San Pedro
  • Robert Whitaker
  • Israel Adesana

Interim Winners: Robert Whitaker, Israel Adesanya

Welterweight class 170 lb (77.1 kg)

Originally known as the Lightweight Division, it was renamed the Welterweight Division in 2001. In its 20-year history, there have been 12 undisputed welterweight champions. Here's the full list.

  • Pat Miletich
  • Charles Newton
  • mateo hughes
  • B. J. Penn
  • mateo hughes
  • Jörg San Pedro
  • Matt Serra
  • Jörg San Pedro
  • John Hendricks
  • Robbie Lawler
  • Tyron Woodley
  • American shrimp

Interim winners: Georges St. Pierre, Carlos Condit,colby covington

Lightweight class 70.3 kg (155 lb)

Originally called the UFC Bantamweight Division, the Lightweight Division was introduced in 2001. There have been 11 undisputed UFC Lightweight Champions and here is the full list.

  • Jens Pulver

(The division disbanded in 2001 and didn't return until 2006)

  • Sean Sherk
  • B. J. Penn
  • Frankie Edgar
  • benson henderson
  • Antonio Petti
  • Rafael dos Anjos
  • Eddie Alvarez
  • Conor MacGregor
  • Khabib Nurmagomedov
  • Carlos Oliveira

Intermediate winner: Tony Ferguson,Dustin Poirier,justin gaethje

(Video) Every UFC Division Ranked From Worst to Best

Featherweight class 65.8 kg (145 lb)

With the merger of the UFC in 2010, the WEC featherweight division became the UFC featherweight division. In its 11 year history there have been 5 undisputed UFC Featherweight Champions and here is the full list.

  • Jose Aldo
  • Conor MacGregor
  • Jose Aldo
  • Max Hollowey
  • alex volkanowski

Interim Winners: Conor McGregor, Jose Aldo, Max Holloway

Bantam weight class 61.2 kg (135 lb)

The UFC bantamweight division was introduced during the WEC merger. There have been 9 undisputed UFC Bantamweight Champions in the history of the division and they are as follows.

  • Dominik Cruz
  • Renan Barao
  • TJ Dillashaw
  • Dominik Cruz
  • Cody Garbrandt
  • TJ Dillashaw
  • Heinrich Cejudo
  • Peter Yan
  • Aljamain Sterling

Zwischensieger: Renan Barão

125 lb (56.7 kg) flyweight

The UFC flyweight was introduced in 2012 with a range of 116–125 pounds (53–57 kg). In the division's 9-year history, there have been 4 undisputed UFC Flyweight Champions and they are as follows.

  • Demetrio Johnson
  • Heinrich Cejudo
  • Deivision Figueiredo
  • brandon moreno

Intermediate champion: 0

Women's Featherweight Division

The UFC women's featherweight division was formed 10 months before the inception of the women's flyweight division. It was founded in 2017 and has had 3 undisputed UFC Women's Featherweight Champions.

  • Germaine de Randamie
  • Chris Cyborg
  • Amanda Nunes

Intermediate champion: 0

Women's Bantamweight Division

With the purchase of Strikeforce, the UFC launched the women's bantamweight division. The first fight was in 2012 and there were 4 undisputed UFC women's bantamweight champions.

  • Ronda Rousey
  • Stechpalme
  • Mia Tate
  • Amanda Nunes

Intermediate champion: 0

flyweight women

The UFC Women's Flyweight Division was the last division added to the UFC on December 1, 2017. Since then there have only been a total of only 2 undisputed UFC Women's Flyweight Champions.

  • Nico Montano
  • Walentina Schewtschenko

Intermediate champion: 0

Strawweight women

The UFC women's strawweight division was formed in 2014, with the inaugural title decided in that year's season of The Ultimate Fighter. Since the division's inception, there have been 6 undisputed UFC strawweight champions.

  • Carla Esparza
  • Johanna Meister
  • Rosa Namajunas
  • Jessica Andrade
  • zhang weili
  • Rosa Namajunas

Intermediate champion: 0

(Video) TOP 5 Most Dangerous Weight Cuts In UFC History


How do the UFC weight classes work? ›

In mixed martial arts, athletes compete in weight classes where they must weigh in at or around a specific weight the day before their fight at the UFC official weigh-ins. The UFC currently has 12 weight classes, all that require fighters to weight in under a desired limit.

What weight is each class in UFC? ›

Unified Rules of Mixed Martial Arts
Weight classUpper weight limit
Flyweight125 lb (56.7 kg)
Bantamweight135 lb (61.2 kg)
Featherweight145 lb (65.8 kg)
Lightweight155 lb (70.3 kg)
10 more rows

What weight class is 200 lbs in UFC? ›

How Many UFC Weight Classes Are There?
Weight ClassMaximum Weight
Super Middleweight195 lbs (88.5 kg)
Light Heavyweight205 lbs (93 kg)
Cruiserweight225 lbs (102.1 kg)
Heavyweight265 lbs (120.2 kg)
10 more rows

What happens in the UFC if a fighter doesn't make weight? ›

That being said, the fighter who failed to make weight will usually be asked to forfeit between 20 and 30 percent of the purse depending on far off the weight mark they were. The UFC also penalizes the offending fighter by disallowing post-fight bonuses.

What does straw weight mean? ›

Noun. strawweight (countable and uncountable, plural strawweights) (boxing) minimumweight. (mixed martial arts) the weight class of 106-115 lbs, above atomweight and below flyweight. A fighter in the above weight class.

Why are there no 12/6 elbows in UFC? ›

The primary justification for banning 12–6 strikes was the damage that could result from such a strike on the orbital bone, and the potential for spinal injuries if 12–6 elbows were used in certain positions, due to size differences between fighters.

How much does Bruce Buffer make? ›

It is reported that Buffer typically is paid $50,000 per UFC fight, while he can make up to $100,000 for larger events, like UFC 274 and other PPVs. That's not bad for someone who gets to stand in the octagon and not get punched in the face.

What is the best division in UFC? ›

Of all the divisions in the UFC, lightweight remains supreme. Since merging the WEC roster with the UFC roster, lightweight has become the premier division of the UFC and features some of the most skilled, entertaining, and well-liked fighters in the world.

What is the most prestigious UFC weight class? ›

UFC Weight Classes Ranked: 1.

155 has been the focal point of some of the UFC's biggest stars like Conor McGregor, Khabib Nurmagomedov and BJ Penn. It also has a tremendous array of talent at all levels.

Who is the 170 pound UFC champion? ›

The UFC Welterweight Division contains a group that weighs 156 to 170 lb (71 to 77 kg). The UFC Welterweight Division is between the Lightweight and Middleweight Division. Leon Edwards, after winning the UFC Welterweight Title.

How do UFC rankings work? ›

How are rankings determined? Rankings were generated by a voting panel made up of media members. The media members were asked to vote for who they feel are the top fighters in the UFC by weight-class and pound-for-pound. A fighter is only eligible to be voted on if they are in active status in the UFC.

What is below lightweight? ›

featherweight, 119 pounds (54 kg) lightweight, 126 pounds (57 kg) light welterweight, 132 pounds (60 kg) welterweight, 141 pounds (64 kg)

What does catchweight bout mean? ›

A catchweight is a term used in combat sports, such as boxing or mixed martial arts, to describe a weight limit that does not adhere to the traditional limits for weight classes. In boxing, a catchweight is negotiated prior to weigh-ins, which are conducted one day before the fight.

Why do UFC fighters cut weight so fast? ›

Weight cutting is a process where fighters dehydrate themselves and lose water weight, which is then regained by the time they fight. This way, they are heavier than the official weight limit for the division on fight night. This is done to gain strength and weight advantage over opponents.

How do UFC fighters make weight so fast? ›

The main way fighters cut so much weight so fast is by dehydrating themselves throughout their cut. Water makes up 60% of our body weight, so cutting out water is essential in the process of losing weight quickly and temporarily. Fighters also avoid carbs and salts to ensure the best results.

How do UFC fighters gain weight so fast after weigh-in? ›

What Do Fighters Eat After Weigh-Ins? Fighters eat foods that are high in carbohydrates, proteins, and salts. They will also drink a large amount of water, carb-rich drinks, or even liquid calories from mass gainer shakes. These huge demands can often lead to some bizarre and “freakish” refeeding processes.

What is feather weight? ›

A featherweight is a professional boxer who weighs between 118 and 126 pounds or 54 and 57 kilograms, which is one of the lowest weight ranges.

What weight is Bantam? ›

Bantamweight is a weight class in combat sports. For boxing, the range is above 115 lb (52.2 kg) and up to 118 lb (53.5 kg). In kickboxing, a bantamweight fighter generally weighs between 53 and 55 kilograms (117 and 121 lb). In MMA, bantamweight is 126–135 lb (57.2–61.2 kg).

What weight is atomweight? ›

Atomweight (105 lbs)

The atomweight division (which is also the minimum weight division) in women's mixed martial arts refers to fighters weighing in at or below 105 lbs (or 48 kg). It claims the spot directly beneath the more hefty strawweight division.

What punches are illegal in UFC? ›

Strikes to the spine or back of the head or anything behind the ears (see Rabbit punch) Throat strikes of any kind, including, without limitation, grabbing the trachea. Fingers outstretched towards opponent's face/eyes. Clawing, pinching, twisting the flesh.

What moves are banned in UFC? ›

Rest of illegal moves in UFC fight:
  • Headbutting. One of the most talked-about illegal moves in UFC. ...
  • Eye-gouging. One doesn't have to be a genius to deduce that eye pokes are extremely dangerous. ...
  • Biting. ...
  • Hair pulling. ...
  • Fish-hooking. ...
  • Groin attacks. ...
  • Small joint manipulation. ...
  • Rabbit punches.

Is Kung Fu allowed in UFC? ›

Therefore, Kung Fu is allowed in UFC, but some techniques you can learn while practicing Kung Fu are strictly forbidden in MMA. You can only use some Kung Fu elements in an MMA fight and leave the eye pokes, and throat punches out of the Octagon.

How much do UFC ring girls make? ›

UFC ring girls make from $1000 to $5000 (for PPV events) per fight. Annually, UFC ring girls make from $20,000 to $50,000. With side ventures included, UFC rings girls' earnings can go to up $1 million per year (Arianny Celeste being an example).

What do UFC referees get paid? ›

Entry level MMA referees make $250 per fight (yearly around $14,500). Professional MMA referees make $2,500 per fight with $10,000 bonus for PPV events (yearly around $380,000). Female MMA referees make $1,000 per fight with $3,500 bonus for PPV events (yearly around $60,000).

What is Dana White's salary? ›

What is Dana White's Net Worth in 2023? According to Celebrity Net Worth, Dana White's net worth stands at a total of $500 million. Dana White's salary is estimated to be $20 million per annum.

Is it legal to throat punch in UFC? ›

No directed throat strikes are allowed. A directed attack would include a fighter pulling his opponents head in a way to open the neck area for a striking attack. A fighter may not gouge their fingers or thumb into their opponent's neck or trachea in an attempt to submit their opponent.

Can you hold 2 belts in UFC? ›

Only seven people in UFC history have ever won belts in multiple divisions, with four of them achieving the new pinnacle of MMA: becoming a “champ champ,” or a simultaneous champion in multiple divisions.

Are knees illegal in UFC? ›

The majority of MMA organizations follows the common rule of prohibiting knee strikes and kicks to the head of a grounded opponent, but fighters are allowed to strike their opponent's body. Hand and elbows strikes to the head are considered legal.

What weight class is 220 lbs in UFC? ›

Weight class nameUpper limit in kgEquivalent in lb
Light Heavyweight83 kg183 lb
Cruiserweight91 kg200 lb
Heavyweight100 kg220 lb
Super HeavyweightAbove 100 kgAbove 220 lb
6 more rows

What weight class is 170 lbs in UFC? ›

The welterweight division in mixed martial arts contains different weight classes: The UFC's welterweight division, which groups competitors within 156 to 170 lb (71 to 77 kg)

What weight class is 150 lbs in UFC? ›


Why do boxers weigh more on fight night? ›

Well basically, the night before the fight you weigh in to make sure you've made the weight for your weight class. So let's say your weight class is 155. You'll weigh in on Friday night and you have to be under 155 or you could risk being penalized and losing some of your purse money.

Who fights at 180 in UFC? ›

Main card
Weight class
WelterweightKelvin Gastelumdef.
FeatherweightRicardo Lamasdef.
WelterweightAugusto Montañodef.
10 more rows

Why do weight classes exist? ›

Weight divisions are designed to prevent mismatches between opponents, create a safer environment for competitors, and have fair fights.

What weight division is 180 pounds? ›

middleweight, 165 pounds (75 kg) light heavyweight, 178 pounds (81 kg) heavyweight, 201 pounds (91 kg) super heavyweight, any weight over 201 pounds (91 kg)

Who is the 185 pound UFC champion? ›

Alex Pereira

Who is number 1 lightweight UFC? ›

1Charles Oliveira
2Dustin Poirier
3Justin Gaethje
4Beneil Dariush
5Michael Chandler
10 more rows

What weight is 180 lbs in UFC? ›

The middleweight division in mixed martial arts refers to different weight classes: The UFC's middleweight division, which groups competitors within 171 to 185 lb (77.5 to 84 kg) The Shooto's middleweight class, which refers to competitors between 155 and 170 lb (70.3 and 77.1 kg)

Why is it called bantamweight? ›

In MMA, bantamweight is 126–135 lb (57.2–61.2 kg). The name for the class is derived from bantam chickens.

How much do UFC fighters cut weight? ›

Water makes up 60% of our body weight, so cutting out water is essential in the process of losing weight quickly and temporarily. Fighters also avoid carbs and salts to ensure the best results. On average, fighters typically cut 15-20lbs. Cutting is hazardous and could significantly damage the body if done incorrectly.

What do UFC fighters drink after weigh ins? ›

Electrolytes and Water

After the weigh-in, MMA fighters drink a mixture of electrolyte drinks and water. The majority of athletes begin with an electrolyte-rich beverage. Prior to the weigh-in, fighters make a concerted effort to sweat out excess water. An athlete can lose up to 1 gram of sodium every liter of sweat.

How do boxers fight when tired? ›

How To Fight Tired
  1. Stare Your Opponent Down. I see beginner boxers looking away all the time when they get tired. ...
  2. Walk Don't Run. This tip should be obvious but for some reason many fighters haven't caught on to yet. ...
  3. Throw Some Feints. ...
  4. Final Thoughts On Fighting Tired.
Aug 19, 2010

Why do boxers wake up so early? ›

Boxers will run early in the morning to allow enough recovery before their boxing workout. This way, their roadwork doesn't interfere as much with their other training sessions. If you had your first boxing session at 10 am, and you ran at 8 am, you'd only allow approximately one hour to recover before training.


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