The UFC Before Weight Classes

In the early days of MMA, the sport did not have weight classes for its fighters. However, once it became more popular and gained more mainstream acceptance, weight classes were added in order to standardize competition between different fighters.

Pick On Someone Your Own Size

UFC athletes are some of the most fit and skilled athletes in the world, and their weight divisions have evolved over time. The men's weight classes range from flyweight to heavyweight, while the women's weight classes range from strawweight to featherweight.

The UFC is the largest mixed martial arts promotion in the world, and it has been going strong since 1993. The organization currently has eight weight classes for men and four weight classes for women.

Here's a quick rundown of each of those weight classes!

Men's Weight Classes

A table that displays the Men's UFC Weight Classes (in order) using pounds and kilograms.

Women's Weight Classes

A table that displays the Women's UFC Weight Classes (in order) using pounds and kilograms.

Weight Divisions With The Most Professional Fighters

The UFC's current roster has fighters competing across all these different weight classes, although there are some that are more popular than others. The most popular classes are Welterweight (170lb), Lightweight (155lb), Middleweight (185lb), and Light Heavyweight (205lb).

These four classes combine for over half of all fights in the UFC today.

5 of the Most Popular Women's UFC fighters From Each Weight Class

The UFC has had a women's division since 2013 when Ronda Rousey defeated Liz Carmouche at UFC 157. Since then, a number of female fighters have made names for themselves.

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Below are 5 of the most popular women's UFC fighters from each weight class:

  1. Strawweight - 115 lbs. - Rose Namajunas
  2. Flyweight - 125 lbs. - Valentina Shevchenko
  3. Bantamweight - 135 lbs. - Julianna Pena
  4. Featherweight - 145 lbs. - Alexa Grasso
  5. Women's Featherweight Champion Amanda Nunes (retired)

If you missed it, watch Amanda Nunes post-fight retirement speech at UFC 289 here:

8 of the Most Popular Men's UFC fighters From Each Weight Class

Here are 8 of the most popular men's UFC fighters listed by division:

  1. Flyweight (125 lbs.): Brandon Moreno (#1 Ranked UFC Welterweight)
  2. Bantamweight (135 lbs.): Sean O'Malley (Current UFC Bantamweight Champion)
  3. Featherweight (145 lbs.): Alex Volkanovski (Current UFC Featherweight Champion)
  4. Lightweight (155 lbs.): Islam Makhachev (Current UFC Lightweight Champion)
  5. Welterweight (170 lbs.): Leon Edwards (current UFC Welterweight Champion)
  6. Middleweight (185 lbs.): Anderson Silva (retired)
  7. Light Heavyweight (205 lbs.): Daniel Cormier (retired)
  8. Heavyweight (265 lbs.): Stipe Miocic (Current #4 Ranked Heavyweight)

Watch some Daniel Cormier highlights below:

Lightweight - 155 Pounds (70.3 kg)

Lightweight is the fourth-heaviest weight class in the UFC, and first appeared at UFC 12. The weight limit for Lightweight is 155 pounds, or 70.3 kg.

The Lightweight division has long been one of the most popular divisions in MMA, due to it holding the "middle ground" position between featherweight and welterweight. Although most fighters who compete in this division are generally bigger than those who compete at flyweight and bantamweight, they are usually naturally smaller than those who compete at welterweight or middleweight.

This makes lightweight fighters more athletic than their larger counterparts but still slower than the smaller ones as well as generally having slightly less endurance than their smaller counterparts.

Welterweight - 170 Pounds (77.1 kg)

The welterweight division is the middle-of-the-pack weight class in the UFC, with a maximum weight limit of 170 pounds. The original welterweight limit was 155 pounds—but not because they wanted it to be easy on the fighters' bodies.

Back in the early days of UFC competitions when people were still trying to figure out how this whole fighting in a cage thing worked, they needed to make sure that every fighter could compete against one another without having too much of an advantage due to size or strength.

Middleweight - 185 Pounds (83.9 kg)

Many fans consider Anderson Silva to be one of the greatest fighters ever—and with good reason: he holds an impressive 16-fight win streak with 10 different wins by knockout (or TKO) before losing his title belt against Chris Weidman in 2013. Anderson Silva's last fight with the UFC took place in October 2020 against Uriah Hall, with a loss that unofficially ended his MMA career.

Watch Anderson Silva's Top 5 finishes below:

Light Heavyweight - 205 Pounds (93.0 kg)

The Light heavyweight UFC weight class was introduced in 1997. The maximum allowed weight is 205 pounds (or 93.0 kg). Currently, Alex Pereira holds the Championship belt in the Light Heavyweight division.

Heavyweight - 265 Pounds (120.2 kg)

This is the class with the highest weight limit and the fewest fighters. (At least, that's what it's supposed to be.) In reality, heavyweight has become one of the most popular weight classes thanks, in part, to its one-time champion Brock Lesnar (retired) being a former UFC heavyweight champion, plus fighters like Jon Jones and Stipe Miocic who put on exciting performances.

Sometimes Size Does Matter

There are so many great fighters in both the men's and women's division today. As much fun as it is to go back and watch some of the earlier UFC fights where fighters duked it out regardless of difference in weight, we're glad it doesn't go down like that anymore.

If wrestling, Muay Thai, and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu have weight classes, why shouldn't the UFC? We know how hard it is to memorize all the different UFC weight classes and hopefully this helped clear up some of the confusion! Next time you watch a Pay-Per-View, it'll be that much easier to follow along with the action.