Heavyweight
Weight limit 265lb / 120.2 kg
Established 1997
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Light Heavyweight
Weight limit 205lb / 18.9 kg
Established 1997
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Middleweight
Weight limit 185lb / 83.9 kg
Established 2000
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Welterweight
Weight limit 170lb / 77.1 kg
Established 2000
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Lightweight
Weight limit 155lb / 70.3 kg
Established 2000
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Featherweight
Weight limit 145lb / 65.8 kg
Established 2000
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Bantamweight
Weight limit 135lb / 61.2 kg
Established 2000
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Flyweight
Weight limit 125lb / 56.7 kg
Established 2000
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Strawweight
Weight limit 115lb / 52.2 kg
Established 2013
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In MMA fighting, weight classes set limits on the difference in weight between any two fighters who compete. For reasons of safety and fairness, only competitors who are sufficiently similar in weight are allowed to fight.

Weight classes help even out the competition. Besides telling you about their body mass, a fighter’s weight is also usually a useful signal of their agility, speed, stamina and striking power.

Fighters are weighed at the official weigh-in event, which is usually the morning of or the day before the competition. If they exceed their weight class’ specified limit on that day, they may be punished or restricted.

For non-title fights in the UFC, one pound above the weight limit counts as missed weight. For title fights, even half a pound too heavy is a miss. A fighter who misses the first weighing will usually get a few hours’ grace to keep cutting. If they miss the second weighing, they won’t get a third try.

Fighters who miss weight are usually penalized with a percentage of their salary for the match. This penalty percentage, generally somewhere around 20% of the total, is instead given to their opponent. In title fights, fighters who miss weight are ineligible to receive the title, even if they win. Any fighter who misses weight repeatedly will either have to move up a weight class or risk being cut from their organization.

Before MMA organizations like the UFC and Bellator were officially sanctioned by state athletic commissions, they generally had few to no weight classes. In the first few UFC events, fighters of any weight were allowed to compete, which resulted in some messy and unpleasantly chaotic conclusions.

After 11 free-for-all events, the UFC finally put their first two weight classes into place for their 12th event. UFC 12, which took place in 1997, separated fighters into heavyweights, weighing over 200 pounds, and lightweights, weighing under 200 pounds. About one year after that, they added their third weight class, and MMA weight classes were here to stay.

The next few years saw a flurry of adjustments to the weight classes, as the previously unregulated world of MMA fighting began to settle into the mainstream. State athletic commissions began to show an interest in supervising MMA organizations, and it wasn’t long before each organization’s individual weight classes would be replaced by official state regulations.

In 2000, the New Jersey State Athletic Commission (NJAC) beat the other states to the punch when they codified the first ever official Unified Rules of Mixed Martial Arts. As more and more states began to officially sanction MMA fights, they adopted the NJAC’s Unified Rules, which soon became the national and then international MMA standard. Today, practically anywhere MMA fights are held, the same official rules and weight limits are used.

Today, there are 15 separate weight classes recognized in the MMA’s Unified Rules. Of those 15, only nine are actually used by major organizations like the UFC and Bellator.

The highest and lowest classes of super heavyweight, which includes anyone over 265 pounds, and atomweight, which includes anyone under 105 pounds, are sparsely populated in general. Very few adults fall into these classes, so there are very few super heavyweight or atomweight fights. When they do take place, they are usually special events in small MMA organizations.

The other four rarely seen classes are new additions to the weight class canon. These include cruiserweight, super middleweight, super welterweight and super lightweight. They were added to the Unified Rules in 2017, interspersed with the existing heavyweight, middleweight, welterweight and lightweight classes. The biggest MMA organizations have mostly stated they believe these new additions are unnecessary, and the UFC and Bellator have yet to host a fight in any of the new classes.

Division Weight limit Established
Heavyweight 265lb / 120.2 kg 1997
Light Heavyweight 205lb / 18.9 kg 1997
Middleweight 185lb / 83.9 kg 2000
Welterweight 170lb / 77.1 kg 2000
Lightweight 155lb / 70.3 kg 2000
Featherweight 145lb / 65.8 kg 2000
Bantamweight 135lb / 61.2 kg 2000
Flyweight 125lb / 56.7 kg 2000
Strawweight 115lb / 52.2 kg 2013

Heavyweight Division

Heavyweight photo
  • Established icon Also known as Heavy, 205+
  • Established icon Year established 1997
  • Established icon Weight limit 265lb / 120.2 kg
UFC
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Francis NGannou (15-3-0)

Cameroon flag UFC Heavyweight Champion

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Ciryl Gane (10-0-0)

France flag UFC Interim Heavyweight Champion

One Championship
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Arjan Bhullar (11-1-0)

Canada flag ONE Heavyweight Champion

Bellator
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Ryan Bader (28-7-0)

United States flag Bellator Heavyweight Champion

Belt icon

Valentin Moldavsky (11-1-0)

Ukraine flag Bellator Interim Heavyweight Champion

The MMA heavyweight class includes men weighing between 205 – 265 pounds.

This was the first official weight division established in 1997 at UFC 12. It later made it into the first edition of the official Unified Rules codified by the NJAC in 2000. It is currently the heaviest division officially recognized by most major MMA organizations, including Bellator and the UFC.

The heavyweight class holds all of MMA’s biggest fighters. This class is known for its heavy striking and quick finishes. Some of its biggest names include Randy Couture, Cain Velasquez and Stipe Miocic.

Randy Couture won the heavyweight belt in 1997, the same year the division was established. He beat heavyweight heavy hitter Vitor Belfort in October of that year, which set him up for the title fight only two months later.

Cain Velasquez became heavyweight champion when he beat Brock Lesnar in 2010. He lost the belt soon after to Junior Dos Santos, but avenged the loss to become a heavyweight champion for the second time only a year later.

Stipe Miocic was one of the division’s most dominant champions. He won the belt in 2016 with a spectacular knockout of Fabricio Werdum. He then defended his belt against the fiercest heavyweight competitors, including Overeem, dos Santos, Ngannou and Cormier.

View Heavyweight Rankings & Recent Fights

Light Heavyweight Division

Light Heavyweight photo
  • Established icon Also known as Light Heavy, '205'
  • Established icon Year established 1997
  • Established icon Weight limit 205lb / 18.9 kg
UFC
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Glover Teixeira (33-7-0)

Brazil flag UFC Light Heavyweight Champion

One Championship
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Aung La Nsang (27-12-0)

Myanmar flag ONE Light Heavyweight Champion

Bellator
Belt icon

Vadim Nemkov (14-2-0)

Russian Federation flag Bellator Light Heavyweight Champion

The MMA’s light heavyweight class involves men who weigh between 185 – 205 pounds.

In certain MMA organizations, including the UFC, this division was first called the middleweight division. In 2000, the NJAC gave this class its official light heavyweight name, which has stayed in place to this day.

The first light heavyweight champion, in 1997, was Frank Shamrock. He beat his opponent, Kevin Jackson, in only 22 seconds. Shamrock defended his title four times against the division’s top fighters, including Tito Ortiz and Jeremy Horn. He eventually retired in 1999 due to what he considered a lack of competition in the weight class.

Chuck Liddell was this division’s most notable fighter. One of the UFC’s first superstars, he helped rocket MMA to international popularity in the 2000s with a string of seven unbeaten fights. He won the light heavyweight belt by knocking out former heavyweight champion Randy Couture, who had moved down a weight class. He remained light heavyweight champion for two years, defending his belt four times.

View Light Heavyweight Rankings & Recent Fights

Middleweight Division

Middleweight photo
  • Established icon Also known as Middle, '185'
  • Established icon Year established 2000
  • Established icon Weight limit 185lb / 83.9 kg
UFC
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Israel Adesanya (20-1-0)

Nigeria flag UFC Middleweight Champion

One Championship
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Reinier de Ridder (13-0-0)

Netherlands flag ONE Middleweight Champion

Bellator
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Gegard Mousasi (48-7-2)

Netherlands flag Bellator Middleweight Champion

The middleweight class in the MMA contains men weighing between 170 – 185 pounds.

Established with the rest of the major classes by the NJAC in 2000, this division has historically been among the most exciting classes in MMA fighting. Middleweight fighters tend to be more athletic than heavier classes. They generally have more explosiveness without sacrificing too much striking power.

The most recognizable name in this class is probably Anderson Silva. Where the most dominant fighters in the above two classes were only able to keep their titles for about two years, Silva was able to defend his for five years straight. His historic run began in 2006 when he knocked out then-champion Rich Franklin. It continued through a 16-fight win streak, including 10 title defenses and three fights up in the heavyweight class. Silva still holds the UFC record for the longest win streak.

Georges St-Pierre, who also dominated in the below welterweight class, became the fourth UFC fighter to hold titles in two weight classes when he submitted Michael Bisping for the middleweight championship in 2017.

View Middleweight Rankings & Recent Fights

Welterweight Division

Welterweight photo
  • Established icon Also known as 'Welter', '170'
  • Established icon Year established 2000
  • Established icon Weight limit 170lb / 77.1 kg
UFC
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Kamaru Usman (20-1-0)

Nigeria flag UFC Welterweight Champion

One Championship
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Kiamrian Abbasov (23-4-0)

Kyrgyzstan flag ONE Welterweight Champion

Bellator
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Yaroslav Amosov (26-0-0)

Ukraine flag Bellator Welterweight Champion

MMA’s welterweight class holds male fighters within 155 – 170 pounds.

In other fighting sports like boxing and Muay Thai, the welterweight division falls under 147 pounds. This means that in the MMA, the welterweight class, as codified by the NJAC in 2000, is a heavier-than-usual division.

This is a deep division in the MMA, holding a lot of talented competitors who are proficient at balancing striking power with lightning speed. Historically, the welterweight class has been dominated by grapplers. Many of its top fights have taken place mostly on the ground with top-notch wrestling and spectacular submission endings.

In the late 2000s and early 2010s, Georges St-Pierre won and lost the welterweight championship and then won it again. The second time proved to be the charm, as he remained champion for five years, successfully defending his title nine times and then retiring.

Another well-known welterweight was Tyron Woodley. He took the belt from two-year champion Robbie Lawler and had a three-year reign of dominant title defenses against walking highlights like Darren Till and Stephen Thompson.

Ben Askren dominated in this class in other MMA organizations like Bellator and ONE. He plowed through the best welterweights in various organizations until getting to the UFC, where he was quickly stopped by Jorge Masvidal. That fight still holds the UFC record for fastest knockout.

View Welterweight Rankings & Recent Fights

Lightweight Division

Lightweight photo
  • Established icon Also known as '155'
  • Established icon Year established 2000
  • Established icon Weight limit 155lb / 70.3 kg
UFC
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Charles Oliveira (31-8-0)

Brazil flag UFC Lightweight Champion

One Championship
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Christian Lee (15-4-0)

Canada flag ONE Lightweight Champion

Rizin
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Roberto ‘Satoshi’ de Souza (12-1-0)

Brazil flag Rizin Lightweight Champion

Bellator
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Patricky Pitbull (24-10-0)

Brazil flag Bellator Lightweight Champion

The lightweight MMA division includes male competitors between 145 – 155 pounds.

This is the lightest men-only MMA weight class officially recognized in 2000 by the NJAC. It’s another highly competitive class with scores of skilled fighters in many different organizations.

Eddie Alvarez won lightweight championships in both Bellator and the UFC with wins over other great lightweights like Michael Chandler, Justin Gaethje and Anthony Pettis. He currently fights in the ONE lightweight division, where he hopes to become the first fighter in history to win belts in three organizations.

Alvarez was stopped in the UFC by Conor McGregor, who did most of his best work in the featherweight class. With his Alvarez knockout, McGregor became the UFC’s first fighter to hold titles in two weight classes at the same time.

McGregor looked poised to make waves among lightweights as he had among featherweights, but he has looked wobbly since being submitted via neck crank by his lightweight rival, Khabib Nurmagomedov.

Khabib Nurmagomedov held the UFC’s lightweight title for three years, the longest period in UFC history. His near superhuman strength made his gritty ground and pound nearly unstoppable for other lightweights in the division. He retired undefeated in 2021.

View Lightweight Rankings & Recent Fights

Featherweight Division

Featherweight photo
  • Established icon Also known as '145', 'Feather'
  • Established icon Year established 2000
  • Established icon Weight limit 145lb / 65.8 kg
Male Champions
UFC
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Alexander Volkanovski (23-1-0)

Australia flag UFC Featherweight Champion

One Championship
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Thanh Le (12-2-0)

United States flag ONE Featherweight Champion

Rizin
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Yutaka Saito (19-4-2)

Japan flag Rizin Featherweight Champion

Bellator
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AJ McKee Jr (18-0-0)

United States flag Bellator Featherweight Champion

Female Champions
UFC
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Amanda Nunes (21-4-0)

Brazil flag UFC Women's Featherweight Champion

Bellator
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Cris Cyborg (25-2-0)

Brazil flag Bellator Women’s Featherweight Champion

The featherweight class in MMA includes fighters weighing between 135 – 145 pounds.

This division also began in 2000 under the NJAC’s Unified Rules. It contains both male and female competitors, although fights are currently not allowed between genders. The featherweight class is the Unified Rules’ heaviest recognized weight division for female fighters.

Most fighters in this class have incredible cardio, and many also have solid stopping power in their strikes. Featherweight fights tend to have a lot of energy and an interesting mix of styles.

The featherweight class was Conor McGregor’s playground. After his 13-second win by knockout over Jose Aldo to win the title, McGregor had a messy reign. The featherweight class, and sometimes MMA itself, seemed to lose his interest at times, even though he remains a superstar in both.

Among female fighters, Cris Cyborg annihilated all comers for years in the featherweight division of the UFC and other organizations. After inflicting a string of knockouts on other featherweights, she was finally stopped by Amanda Nunes in 2018. With the win, Nunes became the first woman to hold titles in two UFC weight classes.

View Featherweight Rankings & Recent Fights

Bantamweight Division

Bantamweight photo
  • Established icon Also known as '135', Bantam
  • Established icon Year established 2000
  • Established icon Weight limit 135lb / 61.2 kg
Male Champions
UFC
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Aljamain Sterling (20-3-0)

United States flag UFC Bantamweight Champion

One Championship
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Bibiano Fernandes (24-4-0)

Brazil flag ONE Bantamweight Champion

Rizin
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Kyoji Horiguchi (29-3-0)

Japan flag Rizin Bantamweight Champion

Bellator
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Sergio Pettis (20-5-0)

United States flag Bellator Bantamweight Champion

Female Champions
UFC
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Amanda Nunes (21-4-0)

Brazil flag UFC Women's Bantamweight Champion

The MMA bantamweight division involves fighters who weigh between 125 – 135 pounds.

Before the NJAC officially codified their Unified Rules, UFC bantamweights fought at a 150-pound limit. In 2000, the Unified Rules set the bantamweight limit at 135 pounds and moved 150-pound fighters up to the lightweight division.

Across both its male and female fighters, the bantamweight class is known for its technical fights between clever and well-trained opponents. Dominick Cruz was the UFC’s first bantamweight champion. He defended his title twice before retiring due to injuries.

In 2019, flyweight champion Henry Cejudo moved up to bantamweight and took the belt from then-champion Marlon Moraes. Cejudo was the fourth UFC fighter to hold simultaneous titles in multiple weight classes and the first to win both a UFC title and an Olympic gold medal.

Ronda Rousey was the most notorious female bantamweight competitor. With an arm bar that wouldn’t quit, she held the UFC’s bantamweight title for three years before losing by a head kick from hell to Holly Holm. She tried to come back but, like Cris Cyborg from the featherweight class, was unable to make it past double champion Amanda Nunes.

View Bantamweight Rankings & Recent Fights

Flyweight Division

Flyweight photo
  • Established icon Also known as '125', Fly
  • Established icon Year established 2000
  • Established icon Weight limit 125lb / 56.7 kg
Male Champions
UFC
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Brandon Moreno (18-5-2)

Mexico flag UFC Flyweight Champion

One Championship
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Adriano Moraes (18-3-0)

Brazil flag ONE Flyweight Champion

Female Champions
UFC
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Valentina Shevchenko (22-3-0)

Kyrgyzstan flag UFC Women's Flyweight Champion

Bellator
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Juliana Velasquez (12-0-0)

Brazil flag Bellator Women’s Flyweight Champion

The flyweight class in the MMA includes male and female fighters weighing between 115 – 125 pounds.

Flyweight was originally the lowest weight class established in 2000 by the NJAC. Today, it remains the lowest division for men, while state commissions have added one lower women-only division.

This class tends to get less attention than heavier weights, possibly because of its lower punching power. Whatever it loses in striking, though, it more than makes up for in action. Many flyweight fights contain more energy in the first round than entire matches from heavier divisions.

Demetrious Johnson was the UFC’s most notable male flyweight champion and also possibly it's most entertaining. Hard to catch and even harder to kill, Johnson holds many colorful UFC records, including most finishes in the UFC’s flyweight division. Johnson won his first fight with double champion Henry Cejudo but lost the rematch by split division. That loss ended his run of 11 straight flyweight title defenses.

The female flyweight division has seen champion after champion, but no one has been able to hold the title for very long. Jessica Eye and Joanna Jedrzejczyk both fought to be champion, but both were beaten by Valentina Shevchenko, who was herself beaten by Amanda Nunes at bantamweight.

View Flyweight Rankings & Recent Fights

Strawweight Division

Strawweight photo
  • Established icon Also known as '115'
  • Established icon Year established 2013
  • Established icon Weight limit 115lb / 52.2 kg
Male Champions
One Championship
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Joshua Pacio (19-3-0)

Philippines flag ONE Strawweight Champion

Female Champions
UFC
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Rose Namajunas (11-4-0)

United States flag UFC Women's Strawweight Champion

One Championship
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Jingnan Xiong (16-2-0)

China flag ONE Women’s Strawweight Champion

The MMA’s last widely adopted class is the strawweight division, containing women who weigh between 105 and 115 pounds.

This class first showed up in 2013 in the UFC. It was added to the official Unified Rules as a women-only division in 2015. Today, it’s an extremely competitive class, with lots of new champions and very little dominance by any single fighter.

Joanna Jędrzejczyk held the women’s strawweight title in the UFC for three years, after stopping Carla Esparza in 2014. She looked unbeatable, until Rose Namajunas came onto the scene in 2017 and took the title from her. Before the loss, Jędrzejczyk had a 14-0 win record, including five overpowering title defenses.

After Jędrzejczyk, this division saw a bit of a time loop. Jessica Andrade found a way to turn Namajunas’ title defense on its head. Then Jessica Andrade’s title reign was repeatedly punched in the face by Chinese knockout artist Zhang Weili. Weili was able to avoid the first ouroboros when she warded off Jędrzejczyk’s 2020 title challenge, but she wasn’t able to avoid the second when the belt was beaten off her by none other than Rose Namajunas.

View Strawweight Rankings & Recent Fights