UFC weight classes explained (2024)

Highlights

  • The UFC has added a number of new weight classes and titles over the years, which has helped some big stars shine.
  • Each weight class has specific weight limits, and champions in each division are recognized for their skill and dominance, with fighters like Islam Makhachev and Jon Jones considered among the very best in the world.
  • The BMF Title is the only UFC championship to have no recognised weight limit.

UFC, and MMA in general, has distinctive weight classes to establish limits for fighters, but what are the weight classes in the UFC? The company has added several weight classes to their roster over the years, including the unveiling of a women’s division back in 2013. Since then, the promotion has made waves and effectively taken over MMA, breeding some of the UFC's biggest stars with the weight system combined with rankings allowing for the best fights to be made.

There are strict regulations in place to ensure that fighters are able to get to their optimum weight safely, and the implementation of weight classes in the UFC attempts to ensure that everyone competes on an even playing field. There are currently 12 different weight classes/divisions in the UFC, with four of them being dedicated to women’s MMA and the remaining eight being men’s. And here is everything you need to know about the weight classes and what their limits are in both pounds and kilograms.

Women's Strawweight

Weight limit:115lb/52.5 kg

UFC weight classes explained (1)

The category was introduced by the UFC and has been a thriving category with fighters able to compete between 106lb and the upper limit of 115lb. It is a division which has seen brilliant fights since its inaugural title bout in 2014, with Carla Esparza becoming the first champion of the division by beating Rose Namajaunas. It is a title that has changed hands with regularity but is now held by Chinese champion Zhang Weili who defeated Esparza and has since gone on to make two successful defences of her title.

Weight limits

106-115lb

First fight (debut)

2014

Inaugural champion

Carla Esparza

Current champion

Zhang Weili

Best fighter (Editor's pick)

Joanna Jedrzejczyk

Women's Flyweight

Weight limit: 125lb/56.7kg

UFC weight classes explained (2)

The newest weight division in the UFC was announced in 2017, with the women's flyweight class ranked with an upper limit of 125lb in parallel with the existing flyweights. The inaugural event was held that year with the winner of the UFC's Ultimate Fighter series crowned the first-ever champion, and it was Nicco Montano who prevailed. Some great fighters have since graced the division including current champion Alexa Grasso, Valentina Shevchenko and leading French contender Manon Fiorot.

Weight limits

116-125lb

First fight (debut)

2017

Inaugural champion

Nicco Montaño

Current champion

Alexa Grasso

Best fighter (Editor's pick)

Valentina Shevchenko

Men's Flyweight

Weight limit: 125lb/ 56.7kg

UFC weight classes explained (3)

The men's branch of the newest weight class was introduced five years earlier than the female category beginning in 2012 with a fight night featuring Demetrious Johnson, who would go on to prove his dominance, and Joseph Benavidez in separate fights. 'DJ' was one of the most recognised names to grace the division, with the likes of Deiveson Figueredo, Brandon Moreno and current champion Alexandre Pantoja holding down the stacked class in the modern era.

Weight limits

116-125lb

First fight (debut)

2012

Inaugural champion

Demetrious Johnson

Current champion

Alexandre Pantoja

Best fighter (Editor's pick)

Demetrious Johnson

Women's Bantamweight

Weight limit:135lb/ 61.2kg

UFC weight classes explained (4)

A division of effective one-fighter dominance, with the best female MMA fighter in history in the shape of Amanda Nunes taking over the weight class. The Brazilian has now retired, leaving an uncertain future after its birth in 2013 which saw the first-ever female UFC fight featuring Ronda Rousey.

The division has a special place in the story of Women's MMA. Aside from Rousey and Nunes, Holly Holm and Miesha Tate have enjoyed runs as champion - and with two-time Olympic Judo champion Kayla Harrison now calling the division home, there's every chance that even more history will be made at 135lbs. Harrison may only be one fight into her UFC career, but already has her eyes set on challenging reigning titleholder Raquel Pennington.

Weight limits

126-135lb

First fight (debut)

2013

Inaugural champion

Ronda Rousey

Current champion

Raquel Pennington

Best fighter (Editor's pick)

Amanda Nunes

Men's Bantamweight

Weight limit: 135lb/ 61.2kg

UFC weight classes explained (5)

One of the most entertaining weight classes in the UFC since debuting in 2011, the bantamweight division has produced champions such as Dominick Cruz, TJ Dillashaw, Aljamain Sterling and Henry Cejudo. Fights are regularly made at the highest level in the division, which is why a 135lb title bout is usually must-see viewing. Sean O'Malley currently holds the gold and made his first title defence at UFC 299 as he defeated Marlon 'Chito' Vera.

Weight limits

126-135lb

First fight (debut)

2011

Inaugural champion

Dominick Cruz

Current champion

Sean O'Malley

Best fighter (Editor's pick)

Dominick Cruz

Women's Featherweight

Weight limit:145lb/ 65.8 kg

UFC weight classes explained (6)

Once one of the glamour divisions of female MMA, the UFC Women's Featherweight Championship is currently vacant after Nunes' retirement in 2023. 'The Lioness' held it from 2018 onwards and claimed it back after briefly losing it, in a rematch with Julianna Pena. Apart from Nunes, there have only been two other champions including inaugural queen Germaine de Randamie and Cris Cyborg.

Weight limits

136-145lb

First fight (debut)

2017

Inaugural champion

Germaine De Randamie

Current champion

Vacant

Best fighter (Editor's pick)

Amanda Nunes

Men's Featherweight

Weight limit: 145lb / 65.8kg

UFC weight classes explained (7)

The featherweight division is the weight class in which Conor McGregor made his UFC debut - and also where he held his first title in the promotion. The Irish superstar isn't the only big name to have graced the 145lb ranks, though. Jose Aldo, Max Holloway and Alexander Volkanovski have also played a major role in UFC featherweight history. McGregor's knockout of Aldo at UFC 194 remains one of the most viewed clips in company history.

However, there's now a fresh name at the top of the division, with Ilia Topuria currently holding the championship gold. The 27-year-old stunned Volkanovski by stopping him at UFC 298, ending the former titleholder's four-year reign.

Weight limits

136-145lb

First fight (debut)

2010

Inaugural champion

Jose Aldo

Current champion

Ilia Topuria

Best fighter (Editor's pick)

Jose Aldo

Lightweight

Weight limit:155lb / 70.3kg

UFC weight classes explained (8)

A stacked division which has gripped the modern era and produced some of the biggest nights in the promotion's history, the weight class has been hugely important to the success of the UFC in the modern day. Some of the most dominant champions have graced the Octagon at 155lb including Khabib Nurmagomedov, BJ Penn, Eddie Alvarez and,of course, a certain Mr McGregor.

The division also produced the highest-selling pay-per-view fight between Nurmagomedov and McGregor who sent the division into the highest profile of any for several years, with the likes of Dustin Poirier and Justin Gaethje moving up to carry the torch in their absence. Islam Makhachev is now the man to beat at lightweight as the reigning champion bids to emulate the accomplishments of his compatriot Khabib.

Weight limits

146-155lb

First fight (debut)

2001

Inaugural champion

Jens Pulver

Current champion

Islam Makhachev

Best fighter (Editor's pick)

Khabib Nurmagomedov

Welterweight

Weight limit: 170lb / 77.1kg

UFC weight classes explained (9)

Another glamour division, 170lb has provided some equally fascinating moments and competitors including the likes of Georges St Pierre, Kamaru Usman, Tyron Woodley and, once again,McGregor. It has also given the UFC some of its most entertaining fighters including the likes of Nate Diaz and Jorge Masvidal who became pay-per-view heroes in the modern era.

St Pierre is considered the greatest to ever grace the division, but was being closely followed by Usman until he lost twice to British star Leon Edwards. 'Rocky' remains the standard bearer at 170lbs but has no shortage of challengers waiting to end his reign. He faces Belal Muhammad next at UFC 304.

Weight limits

156-170lb

First fight (debut)

1998

Inaugural champion

Pat Miletich

Current champion

Leon Edwards

Best fighter (Editor's pick)

Georges St Pierre

Middleweight

Weight limit: 185lb / 83.9 kg

UFC weight classes explained (10)

A weight class which has seen arguably one of the greatest to ever do it in Anderson Silva, 185lb has continued to thrive for a number of years since being introduced as part of the original four during the UFC's opening shows. Many champions have come and gone including Michael Bisping, Alex Pereira, Chris Weidman and more, but none more dominant than 'The Spider', who cemented his name in the history books with the longest title reign ever.

Weight limits

171-185lb

First fight (debut)

2001

Inaugural champion

Dave Menne

Current champion

Dricus Du Plessis

Best fighter (Editor's pick)

Anderson Silva

Now in the modern era, new superstars such as Israel Adesanya have taken the division forward. 'The Last Stylebender' lost the title to Sean Strickland last year, but is currently preparing for a showdown with reigning champion Dricus Du Plessis at UFC 305.

Light Heavyweight

Weight limit: 205lb / 102.1 kg

UFC weight classes explained (11)

At light heavyweight, we've seen a sensational level of competition with fighters both agile and able to produce devastating KO's. The division has been embodied by Jon Jones who is considered arguably the greatest MMA fighter of all-time. The weight class has regularly been used by fighters at middleweight, who are looking to step up including the likes of Adesanya and current champion Alex Pereira.

It is fair to say the division has brought out some heavy-hitting fight nights in its time, including the likes of Chuck Liddell, Tito Ortiz, Quinton Jackson and Daniel Cormier. Some iconic rivalries have been formed including the infamous Cormier v Jones fights which ended in controversy, but 'Bones' remains no doubt considered the most dominant in history after his title stint before moving to heavyweight.

Weight limits

185-205lb

First fight (debut)

1997

Inaugural champion

Frank Shamrock

Current champion

Alex Pereira

Best fighter (Editor's pick)

Jon Jones

Heavyweight

Weight limit: 265lb / 120.2 kg

UFC weight classes explained (12)

What is considered to be the glamour division in combat sports as a whole, the heavyweight division never fails to bring a power-hitting entertainment to the UFC. Despite not carrying the typical pay-per-view power the division does in boxing, the UFC has seen some impressive heavyweights pass through its ranks including Stipe Miocic, Cain Velasquez and recently departed Francis Ngannou.

Weight limits

205-265lb

First fight (debut)

1997

Inaugural champion

Mark Coleman

Current champion

Jon Jones

Best fighter (Editor's pick)

Stipe Miocic

After a dry patch for the division in recent times, a new breed of heavyweights has gripped the sport which is largely down to Jones' recent switch to become champion of the weight class, with the likes of Tom Aspinall, Ciryl Gane and Sergei Pavlovich waiting in the wings. The division can provide huge intrigue given the size of some of the athletes when the ground game becomes a focal point, and it is one that UFC president White will be hoping continues to develop moving forward.

BMF Title

Weight limit: N/AUFC weight classes explained (13)

While every other UFC title is governed by weight classes and contenders determined by rankings, the 'BMF' title is a prize established by the promotion to celebrate toughness, fighting sprit and - quite honestly - sheer violence. The promotion credits Nate Diaz for the creation of the title, having taken inspiration from his post-fight interview after defeating Anthony Pettis at UFC 241 in August 2019.

"We’re fighting for the baddest mother****er in the game belt, and that’s mine," Diaz told Joe Rogan in his post-fight Octagon interview. "I would like to defend it against Jorge Masvidal."

With those few short sentences from Diaz, the BMF title was born. He clashed with Masvidal in the main event of UFC 244 at Madison Square Garden with the BMF crown on the line.

The Stockton native endured a tough night as Masvidal stopped him in brutal fashion to become the inaugural champion. The significance of the moment was underlined when Hollywood megastar The Rock took to the centre of the Octagon to present 'Gamebred' with the title belt.

It would be nearly four years until the BMF belt would be contested again. This time, Justin Gaethje and Dustin Poirier went to war over the prize in the main event of UFC 291. Gaethje won with a vicious headkick, but Max Holloway ended his reign at UFC 300 earlier this year with a spectacular last-second knockout.

Weight limits

N/A

First fight (debut)

2019

Inaugural champion

Jorge Masvidal

Current champion

Max Holloway

Best fighter (Editor's pick)

Max Holloway

UFC weight classes explained (2024)
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