How Do UFC Weight Classes Work? | Easily Explained

Trying to keep up with all of the weight classes in the UFC can be intimidating, as they each have their own different name, and the actual name doesn't give you good a hint of what weight it could even be.

In this page, we will explain what every weight class is, how to distinguish them and the future of weight classes.

How Do UFC Weight Classes Work

Table of Contents

Number of Weight Classes in the UFC

Ther are a total of 12 weight classes in the UFC. 8 in the men's divisions, and 4 in the women's division.

Weight Class  Weight Men/Women or Both
Strawweight 115 lbs Women only
Flyweight 125 lbs Both
Bamtamweight 135 lbs Both
Featherweight 145 lbs Both
Lightweight 155 lbs Men
Welterweight 170 lbs Men
Middleweight 185 lbs Men
Light Heavyweight 205 lbs Men
Heavyweight Up to 265 lbs Men

Why are There Weight Classes?

Levels the Playing Field

Weight classes are extremely important to MMA as it allows two fighters of similar sizes to fight each other.

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In the early days, it was 'open weight' and there were constant instances where a fighter was massively outsized.

This led to either very fast finishing fights or boring fights as the person who was outsized would play it safe, and the person that was massively larger was too slow to get to him.

One of the early problems however was that there weren't enough fighters to be able to fill up weight classes. As the talent started to pour into MMA, it made sense to transition to weight classes.

Legitimizes the Sport

A big part of a sport being able to grow into the national spotlight is attracting new fans. When new fans see a 300 lbs guy fighting a 150 lbs guy, well.. it doesn't exactly scream 'real sport'. 

In fact, in the early days Senator John McCain called it 'Human Cockfighting'.

As weight classes were implemented (along with uniforms), the talent pool started to fill up, and MMA was able to transition into the national spotlight.

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What Happens if a Fighter Comes Overweight

Non Title Bout

If a fighter is overweight during a weigh-in, their opponent has the option to not proceed with the scheduled bout, or proceed but take a percentage of the opponent's purse (money). The opponent also has to agree to that %. The average percentage that you'll see is in the 20% - 30% range.

So if a fighter is being paid $100,000 for the fight and he comes in overweight, he can be giving up $20,000 to $30,000 of his money to his opponent.

Title Bout

The same rules apply as a non title bout with one major difference. The fighter who comes in overweight cannot fight for the actual title. He can still fight, but if he wins he does not win the belt.

An example of this was Deiveson Figuereido vs Joseph Benavidez 1. Figuereido won the fight through a TKO but was ineligible to win the belt. He still received the win in his record.

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When Did the UFC Get Weight Classes?


The heavyweight division is oldest division that was implemented in 1997. This division is one of the pillars of MMA due to the fans being able to watch giant sized athletes fight.

Due to the the amount of power that heavyweights possess, they're a must see event as fights often results in knock outs.

The heavyweight champion is commonly referred to as 'The Baddest Man on the Planet'.

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1997 - 1998

The welterweight and light heavyweight divisions were introduced shortly after.

2000 - Present

In 2000, the UFC adopted the 'Unified Rules of MMA' created by the New Jersey State Athletic Control Board. This adoption paved way for multiple weight classes and helped legitimize MMA as a sport.

The UFC fighters still compete under these unified rules today.

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Future of UFC Weightclasses

There are still improvements that can be made as far as weight classes.

Gaps in Weight: There are big gaps in multiple weight classes. When you take into consideration the lengths that fighters go through to cut weight in order to have a size advantage of a few lbs, 15-20 lbs to move up or down in a weight class is insane

Lightweight to Welterweight = 15 lbs.

Welterweight to Middleweight = 15 lbs.

Middleweight to Light Heavyweight = 20 lbs.

Overflowed Division: The premier division of the UFC, the 155 lbs lightweight division comes to mind. That division is so stacked that there are great fighters that can't even break into the top 10 despite having the talent to do so. The division is that stacked.

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Tweeners: As more talent enters the MMA world, there will be more 'tweeners' now more than ever. A tweener is someone who is best suited for a weight class in between two current weight classes.

However, that weight class currently doesn't exist so they're left to choose whether to bulk up, or cut and dehydrate down.

UFC Double Champs

Now that you've gotten a crash course on weight classes and why they're so important to the sport, you'll understand what a giant accomplishment being a double champion is.

There have only been a handful of UFC fighters who have become double champions, and they've each won it in spectacular fashion

Conor McGregor: Featherweight and Lightweight Champion

McGregor put on arguably the best performance of his career by toying with Eddie Alvarez and knocking him out in round 2.

Daniel Cormier: Light Heavyweight and Heavyweight Champion

DC moved up in weight and knocked out Stipe Miocic in under 5 minutes.

Amanda Nunes: Bantamweight and Featherweight Champion

Nunes also moved up in weight and took on who was at the time known as the most dominant female fighter Cris Cyborg and knocked her out cold in under 1 minute of a chaotic fight.

Henry Cejudo: Flyweight and Bantamweight Champion

Cejudo moved up in weight and overcame some early adversity (a ton of leg kicks) to knock out Marlon Moraes in the 3rd round.

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