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Understanding UFC Weight Classes | Top Weight Categories of UFC in 2024


The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) introduced the concept of weight classes long ago. A weight class means a fighter must weigh under or around a particular weight before the official fight in the ring.

Currently, the UFC has 12 different weight divisions, 4 for women and 8 for men. What is the role of UFC weight classes? Weight divisions are necessary to ensure fair competition between opponents. In this way, the fighter who wins solely depends on his talent and bravery rather than having a great weight advantage.

If the athlete doesn’t fulfill the weight criteria, the result will be canceling the fight with mutual consent or agreeing to have a non-weight competition with the opponent. Let’s explore the UFC weight classes more.

Men UFC Weight Classes

Weight DivisionsWeight LimitAnnounced DateCurrent Champion
Flyweight 125 lb, 56.7 kg116-125 lbs52.6-56.7 kg2012Alexandre Pantoja
Bantamweight135 lb, 61.2 kg126-135 lbs57.1-61.2 kg1999Sean O’Malley
Featherweight145 lb, 65.8 kg136-145 lbs61.6-65.8 kg2010Ilia Topuria
Lightweight155 lb, 70.3 kg146-155 lbs66.2-70.3 kg2001Islam Makhachev
Welterweight170 lb, 77.1 kg156-170 lbs70.7-77.1 kg1998Leon Edwards
Middleweight185 lb, 83.9 kg171-185 lbs77.5-83.9 kg2001Dircus de Plessis
Light heavyweight205 lb, 102.1 kg185-205 lbs83.9-102.1 kg1997Alex Pereira
Heavyweight265 lb, 120.2 kg205-265 lbs92.9-120.2 kg1997Jon Jones 

Women UFC Weight Classes

Weight DivisionsWeight LimitAnnounced DateCurrent Champion
Strawweight115 lb, 52.5 kg106-115 lbs48.0-52.5 kg2014Zheng Well
Flyweight125 lb, 56.7 kg116-125 lbs52.6-56.7 kg2017Alexa Grasso
Bantam Weight 135 lb, 61.2 kg126-135 lbs57.1-61.2 kg2013Raquel Pennington
Featherweight145 lb, 65.8 kg136-145 lbs61.6-65.8 kg2017Vacant

History of Weight Classes

Initially, there was no concept of weight classes in UFC. Most fighters fought with huge weight differences, leading to fighter safety concerns. 

The most famous example of this situation can be seen when Emmanuel Yarborough, who was 6’8, weighing 616 lbs, fought with Keith Hackney, who was 5’11 and weighed 200 lbs.

Later, in 1997, some changes were made. The weight classes concept was also introduced to ensure safety and fairness in the tournament. The first weight classes introduced were lightweight (155 lbs) and heavyweight (over 205 lbs). 

Features of Weight Classes

Different weight divisions have fighters with various fighting styles and skills.

In strawweight and flyweight, lighter fighters are included. They are short in stature yet focus on technical moves with quick hits.

Moreover, in heavier classes, fighters depend more on toughness and power, focusing on solid punches.

Advantages of Weight Classes

The UFC weight classes have immense importance

  • To ensure fighters compete against opponents of similar size
  • To have a balanced yet fair competition
  • Boosting fan engagement to appreciate the fighting style and physique of fighters in each weight division.
  • To reduce the chances of being injured by big-size competitors.

It is unfair to compete against opponents with huge weight differences. Weight classes are so important in mixed martial arts (MMA).

Disadvantages of Weight Classes

While having UFC weight classes has advantages, it also holds some disadvantages.

  • Weight cutting in the UFC is a big problem. Fighters cut weight to fight in lighter divisions, which badly affects their health.
  • Fighters who cannot fulfill the weight class criteria must forfeit 20% of their fight money to an opponent.
  • The other reason is some weight classes have better fighters than others.

Conclusion

UFC weight classes are significant in providing fair competition in the sport. Undeniably, there are challenges like weight cutting, lower weight of fighters, and strict rules in weight classes. Every weight class has unique fighters showcasing their abilities.

Having weight classes provides insights for fans to support their favorite fighter and appreciate each competitor’s fight style. In the future, UFC may have more strict rules regarding weight-cutting, motivating fighters to maintain weight. Also checkout the list of top 10 Youngest UFC Champions.


Umair Basraa

Umair Basraa is an experienced Sports Writer with over three years of expertise covering a wide range of sports, including Cricket, Wrestling, UFC/MMA, Boxing, NBA, and Football. His insightful analysis and engaging storytelling bring the excitement and drama of sports to life for his readers. Basraa's work captures the intricacies of each game, offering a deep understanding of the athletes and events that shape the world of sports.

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