UFC Weight Classes (Divisions) Explained in Lbs and Kg

Keeping track of the different weight classes in MMA can be confusing. Especially as they differ to the weight divisions used in boxing.

Every fighter in the UFC must fight within an existing weight class (although they can choose to move up or down the divisions if they wish).

Fighters are therefore categorized by the class they fight in into different UFC weight classes, and their ultimate goal is to be the UFC Champion of that weight division.

How many weight classes are there in the UFC?

The UFC currently has a total of 12 weight classes; 8 mens and 4 womens.

Here’s a list of UFC weight classes in order. We’ve split the weights out so you can see UFC weight classes in Kgs (kilograms) and weight classes in Lbs. (pounds):

Weight DivisionMin Weigh-in WeightMax Weigh-in Weight
Men’s Heavyweight205 lbs (93 kg)265 lbs (120 kg)
Men’s Light Heavyweight185 lbs (84 kg)205 lbs (93 kg)
Men’s Middleweight170 lbs (77 kg)185 lbs (84 kg)
Men’s Welterweight155 lbs (70 kg)170 lbs (77 kg)
Men’s Lightweight145 lbs (66 kg)155 lbs (70 kg)
Men’s Featherweight135 lbs (61 kg)145 lbs (66 kg)
Men’s Bantamweight125 lbs (57 kg)135 lbs (61 kg)
Men’s Flyweight115 lbs (52 kg)125 lbs (57 kg)
Women’s Featherweight135 lbs (61 kg)145 lbs (66 kg)
Women’s Bantamweight125 lbs (57 kg)135 lbs (61 kg)
Women’s Flyweight115 lbs (52 kg)125 lbs (57 kg)
Women’s StrawweightNone115 lbs (52 kg)

Why do MMA weight classes exist?

MMA weight classes exist so that fighters of a similar size can fight each other on a level playing field. Since weight is not an advantage for either fighter, they will have to rely on their superior fighting skill to overcome their opponent.

Without weight classes, a fighter who is significantly larger than his / her opponent may win a fight, even if his / her opponent is vastly more skilled than them. As mass is such a large advantage in a fight, weight classes exist to neutralize it.

How do weight classes work?

When a fight is scheduled to happen between two fighters in one of the divisions listed above, each fighter must complete a weigh-in the day before the event takes place.

At this weigh-in, both fighters must not weigh more than the upper limit stated by their division. e.g. if a lightweight fight is taking place, then neither fighter should weigh more than 155 lbs. (70 kg).

Although this is very, VERY uncommon, fighters must also not weigh below the stated minimum weight limit the day before their scheduled fight. e.g. neither middleweight fighter can weigh lower than 170 lbs. (77 kg).

The reason the minimum limit is rarely, if ever, an issue is because weight is an advantage in MMA. The heavier you are, the more power you can carry into your fight. Therefore, fighters try to maximize their weight before a fight, not minimize it.

High-repetition workouts do not lead to big muscle growth, but it improves muscle endurance, keeps the body resistant to muscle fatigue. Strength training and conditioning help improve your performance. So, MMA will definitely build your physical strength.

This has lead to a controversial practice in MMA (and other combat sports) called weight cutting.

What is weight cutting in MMA?

A week or so before a fight, a fighter will try to lose weight in a drastic, and also unhealthy, fashion. They will attempt to lose as much water weight as they can by training in lots of layers, they will spend long periods of time in a sauna, or in sauna bags and they will drink very little water. The end goal of this practice is to slide in just under the maximum weight limit of their division. This is called weight cutting.

Once the fighter has weighed in under the maximum upper weight limit, they will then rehydrate at an equally drastic pace. In some cases, a fighter can put on 10-15 lbs. in just under 24 hours. Therefore, they will carry a lot more weight, and therefore power, into their fight.

What happens to a fighter if they come in overweight?

If a fighter weighs in too heavy the day before their fight (which happens quite often in UFC matches) then their opponent has a choice as to whether they will proceed with the fight.

Usually, if the opposing fighter agrees to fight their overweight foe, then they will receive 20% of their foe’s purse (the money they get to fight).

If a fighter ‘misses weight’ for a title matchup, then they will not be eligible to win the UFC belt being fought over (even if they win the fight).

Other times, their opponent will simply refuse to fight anymore, as they think their opponent who missed weight is simply trying to gain an unfair advantage over them.

Why are divisions split by weight, and not height?

Why are their UFC weight divisions, but not UFC height classes? Good question.

Height is not necessarily an advantage, as not all fighters know how to use a reach and length advantage. Weight however, is a natural advantage in a fight, especially when grappling.

Having more weight enables you to carry more muscle and therefore more power. An example of power winning over height would be the fight between UFC athletes Mark Hunt & Stevan Strufe.

Mark Hunt is 5′ 10, and he knocked out Stevan Strufe, who is 7 foot tall. Mark Hunt has competed in the heavyweight division for years, and is almost always the smallest fighter height wise. Yet he still built a reputation as a knockout artist, even developing his signature ‘walk-off KO’.

Daniel Cormier is perhaps an even better example of a fighter who has dominated almost everyone he has fought, despite only being 5′ 11. He is a former UFC light heavyweight & heavyweight champion and he is arguably one of the greatest fighters of all time.

When were weight classes introduced to UFC?

UFC introduced UFC weight classes in 1997. The first weight divisions were the Lightweight division and the Heavyweight division. Prior to this, UFC put on open weight fights. However, it was not until UFC 31 in 2001, when the UFC adopted proper weight classes, which reflect those seen today. If you’re asking “What is UFC“, then we’ve got you covered with our guide.

UFC rankings list for each men’s UFC weight class:

How many UFC weight classes are there?

There are 8 male weight classes and 4 female weight classes, equalling a total of 12 divisions.

When did the UFC get weight classes?

They were first introduced in 1997. Fighters at UFC 12 were split into lightweight and heavyweight. Weight classes at UFC 31 were amended to fit the current MMA standards, still in use today.

Why does the UFC have weight classes?

Having weight classes add more legitimacy to the sport. Weight is also a huge advantage in a fight. More weight classes also allows the promotion to put on more title fights, which makes the UFC more revenue in PPV points.

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