All 9 UFC Weight Classes For Men & Women Easily Explained

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Like most fighting sports, the UFC matchups are organized for two opponents of the same weight to fight to create a fair standard for competition.

These weight classes, sometimes called UFC weight divisions, span men’s and women’s weight classes, with a few differences due to physical attributes.

The full list of nine UFC weight classes (divisions) is as follows:

  1. Strawweight (115 lbs / 52.2 kg)
  2. Flyweight (125 lbs / 56.7 kg)
  3. Bantamweight (135 lbs / 61.2 kg)
  4. Featherweight (145 lbs / 65.78 kg)
  5. Lightweight (155 lbs / 70.3 kg)
  6. Welterweight (170 lbs / 77.1 kg)
  7. Middleweight (185 lbs / 83.9 kg)
  8. Light Heavyweight (205 lbs / 93.0 kg)
  9. Heavyweight (265 lbs / 120.2 kg)

Here’s a handy infographic that makes it even easier to understand:

Some are women-only, some men-only, and there can even be a temporary catchweight class, so keep reading to learn the full breakdown.

UFC Weight Classes In Order For Men

This is the full list of all eight weight classes for the men in the UFC, including their upper weight limit in pounds and kilograms:

Weight Class (Division)Weight (lbs)Weight (kg)
Flyweight125 lbs56.7 kg
Bantamweight135 lbs61.2 kg
Featherweight145 lbs65.8 kg
Lightweight155 lbs70.3 kg
Welterweight170 lbs77.1 kg
Middleweight185 lbs83.9 kg
Light Heavyweight205 lbs93.0 kg
Heavyweight265 lbs120.2kg
Unified Rules Of MMA, 2018

A total of eight weight classes are the usual divisions available for male UFC fighters.

In terms of viewership, research suggests that pay-per-view buyers are most interested in watching Heavyweight fights. This most likely is a remnant from Boxing fans who are used to paying the biggest bucks to get access to the biggest fights. And sometimes that means literally!

UFC Weight Classes In Order For Women

This is the list of four weight classes for the women in the UFC, including their upper weight limit in pounds and kilograms:

Weight Class (Division)Weight (lbs)Weight (kg)
Strawweight115 lbs52.2 kg
Flyweight125 lbs56.7 kg
Bantamweight135 lbs61.2 kg
Featherweight145 lbs65.8 kg
Unified Rules Of MMA, 2018

Currently, there are only four weight divisions for UFC women’s matchups. Three (Flyweight, Bantamweight, and Featherweight) match up with the men’s divisions. But Strawweight is exclusively additional for women’s matchups.

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Women generally are different than men as they are smaller in size, frame, and weight. So the divisions represent that, along with the currently available pool of most female MMA fighters.

It occasionally makes sense for women to pick boxing gloves that are suitable for their smaller size when training. They’ll usually wear the lightest MMA gloves for the UFC fights.

All MMA Weight Classes In Order (Unified Rules Of MMA)

While the UFC uses nine different weight divisions for male and female fighters, there are fourteen possible weight classes that can be used in mixed martial arts.

The full list of MMA weight divisions, as defined by the Unified Rules Of Mixed Martial Arts, is as follows:

Weight Class (Division)Weight (lbs)Weight (kg)
Strawweight115 lbs52.2 kg
Flyweight125 lbs56.7 kg
Bantamweight135 lbs61.2 kg
Featherweight145 lbs65.8 kg
Lightweight155 lbs70.3 kg
Super Lightweight165 lbs74.8 kg
Welterweight170 lbs77.1 kg
Super Welterweight175 lbs79.4 kg
Middleweight185 lbs83.9 kg
Super Middleweight195 lbs88.5 kg
Light Heavyweight205 lbs93 kg
Cruiserweight225 lbs102.1 kg
Heavyweight265 lbs120.2kg
Super HeavyweightNo limitNo limit
Unified Rules Of MMA, 2018

Nine were in total when these weight divisions were first created in the Unified Rules Of MMA in 2000.

As the sport of MMA has evolved, though, an additional four have been added.

Strawweight was added in 2015. And the Super Lightweight, Super Welterweight, Super Middleweight, and Cruiserweight classes were added in 2017.

How Fighters Make Weight

Before any matchup in the UFC, most fighters experience a grueling weight cut to lose an extra few pounds to make weight on the weigh-ins, only to rehydrate immediately after and fight heavier anyway.

For some reason, this practice still exists to bring fighters within an agreed weight limit. But most fighters’ carry weight is much heavier than they normally fight at, sometimes 10-15 lbs heavier!

That’s why today we see the likes of Paddy Pimblett do huge weight cuts leading to a fight. Some can cut a lot of weight and make it look easy, but for others, it can be like putting themselves through a torture camp.

Missing Weight In the UFC

Occasionally, fighters will miss the weight designated for their matchup. This could result in a few scenarios:

  • Moving the fight to a Catchweight weight class
  • 20-30% of the purse given to the opponent
  • Champions can be forced to vacate the belt before a title fight

Weight Class Moving To Catchweight

Sometimes fighters will also compete at a “Catchweight.” This could potentially be any weight between both fighters. The catchweight is used when one or both fighters cannot meet the standard weight division requirements on the day before a fight.

The UFC will check in with fighters periodically leading up to the fight, and if one fighter cannot make weight, both fighters may be forced to enter a new contract agreement for the contest.

Without this new agreement at a Catchweight, both fighters could lose the opportunity to fight and make money. They’ll only get paid for making an appearance, not for nearly making an appearance. So it’s usually the best option.

The Catchweight can sometimes be used to arrange a fight night from the start, particularly when two fighters want to fight each other but usually weigh in very different divisions. For example, a Middleweight fighter challenges a Light Heavyweight fighter.

A real-life example of this was when the Middleweight fighter Rich Franklin agreed to a Catchweight at 195 lbs / 88.45 kg against the Light Heavyweight Wanderlei Silva for UFC 99.

UFC History Of Weight Classes

The beginnings of The Ultimate Fighting Championship were intended to create a tournament where any fighter could fight any other, regardless of size or weight.

This was one of the early promotional messages that came with the UFC. It was THE ultimate fighting tournament to decide who was the better fighter.

This hadn’t been done before, and in the early 1990s, mixed martial arts was only starting in the United States.

No Weight Classes Before 1997

Up until 1997, the UFC officially had NO weight classes at all. Every UFC fight night was in the Openweight class. Openweight meant that any fighter could fight any other if they agreed. Their weight did not matter.

It’s clear, then, why the UFC struggled a lot in its early formative years (probably 10-15 years of struggle) to get the necessary legal approvals to put on a show.

They’d have to pick their states carefully and get permission from the state office and the athletic commission.

The Openweight class was also used in special events called the Superfight Championship. The title was formed to create an ultimate champion that anyone could challenge, regardless of weight.

The title wasn’t around for very long, but Ken Shamrock and Dan Severn were two winners between 1995 and 1996.

But the Superfight Champion title and the Openweight weight class were removed in 1997 when the UFC finally introduced Heavyweight to replace the Superfight title and Lightweight.

Over time, other divisions were introduced, and actual weights were moved around as the sport continued to evolve and more fighters joined up.

Weight Classes Of Popular UFC Fighters

If you’re wondering what the weight class is for some of your favorite fighters, then let me help. Some of these fighters have had experience in different divisions, and I’ll note each one:

Kamaru Usman

Kamaru Usman
JoeKhanMMA, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Weight Class: Welterweight (2012-Present)

Became UFC Welterweight Champion in 2019 after beating Tyron Woodley. One Catchweight fight against Rashid Abdullah in 2013.

Amanda Nunes

Weight Class: Featherweight (2008-2011), Bantamweight (2011-Present)

Became UFC Women’s Bantamweight Champion in 2016 after beating Miesha Tate. After beating Cris Cyborg, she also became UFC Women’s Featherweight Champion in 2018.

Dustin Poirier

Weight Class: Lightweight (2009-2010, 2015-Present). Featherweight (2011-2014).

He became the Interim UFC Lightweight Champion in 2019 after beating Max Holloway.

Conor McGregor

Conor McGregor
Andrius Petrucenia, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Weight Class: Featherweight (2008-2015), Lightweight (2008-2012, 2016-2018, 2021-Present), Welterweight (2016, 2020)

Won the interim UFC Featherweight Championship in 2015, then became the UFC Featherweight Champion in 2015 after beating Jose Aldo. Conor McGregor became the champ-champ by winning the UFC Lightweight Division Belt from Eddie Alvarez in 2016.

Conor is one of those fighters that has had some pretty extreme weight cuts to reach the lower weight classes. He had some expertise to help him get as low as Featherweight.

Common Questions About UFC Weight Classes

Now let me answer a handful of the most common questions about the UFC’s weight classes.

Are UFC Weight Classes The Same As Boxing?

The weight classes in the UFC are not the same as in Boxing. They share similar names but with different weight limits. For example, the Middleweight division in the UFC has a maximum weight of 185 lbs. In Boxing, the Middleweight division is 60 lbs.

Which UFC Weight Class Has The Most Knockouts?

The Heavyweight weight class has the most knockouts in the UFC. But surprisingly, it is closely followed by the Welterweight division. It would seem that both these weights provide the optimum fighter power for knocking out an opponent at the same weight class.

Which UFC Weight Class Has The Most Fighters?

The Welterweight weight class has the most fighters in the UFC, with 91 active Welterweight male fighters. Close behind is the Lightweight roster with 90 male fighters. The biggest women’s weight class is the Strawweight division, with 46 active female fighters.

What UFC Weight Class Is 170 Lbs?

A total of 170 lbs is the Welterweight UFC weight class.

What UFC Weight Class Is 165 Lbs?

A total of 165 lbs matches the Unified Rules Of MMA’s Super Lightweight weight class. But the UFC doesn’t have this weight class in their divisions. Instead, they would fall under the Welterweight division of 170 lbs maximum weight.

Did UFC Always Have Weight Classes?

The UFC did not always have weight classes. Between its first event in 1993 and 1997, UFC fights were held in an Openweight division. This meant no weight restrictions, and any fighter could fight any other.

Why Do We Have Separate Weight Classes In UFC?

The separate weight classes in the UFC are to make the competition as fair as possible. A fighter’s weight directly impacts things like agility, mobility, strength, and power. A heavier fighter is better at knocking out and seriously harming someone lighter than them.

How Often Do UFC Fighters Change Weight Classes?

UFC fighters rarely change weight classes. Sometimes a losing streak can motivate a move down weight classes. A move up weight classes is usually to attempt to beat another title belt holder, like when Conor McGregor first became champ-champ in the UFC.

Does Weight Matter More Than Skill When Fighting?

When two fighters go head to head, their skill and weight directly affect the outcome. The lighter fighter could win using great skill and agility. But they will always be at risk of severe injury from a strike by a heavier fighter because of weight.

In other martial arts competitions, weight can be even more important. Weight matters a lot in wrestling, for example.

Interestingly, though, a sports analyst at Berkeley found that since weight classes were introduced in the UFC in 1997, the heavier opponent only won 20% of the time:

“…I gathered data from every UFC fight since 1997 (the year the UFC implemented weight classes) and calculated the win ratio of the ‘heavier’ opponent to be 20.4/100. So, only 20% of all fights are won by the ‘heavier’ opponent; already, this suggests a lack of correlation between weighing more and winning.

But Weight, There’s More, Harry Li, 2019

Now you know everything there is to know about the UFC’s weight classes, how they work, and their history. Now you might want to go learn about the UFC viewership statistics which has a ton of interesting data.

Web Story: All UFC Weight Classes Explained In Order

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