UFC Weight Classes (Divisions)


UFC Weight Classes (Divisions)

Like all martial arts and combat sports, the UFC has several weight categories that are called divisions. As we know, the main purpose of weight categories is to equalize the battlefield and enable relatively similar opponents to face each other without anyone having a clear-cut advantage over the other. Imagine how a fight in the cage between a 2.00-meter tall fighter with 150 kg and a 1.50-meter tall fighter weighing 50 kg would look like? That’s just not entertainment. So, in order to level the field – we put the 150s in one, and the 50s in another, separate category.

UFC Weight Classes (Divisions):

  • Men’s Heavyweight
  • Men’s Light Heavyweight
  • Men’s Middleweight
  • Men’s Welterweight
  • Men’s Lightweight
  • Men’s Featherweight
  • Men’s Bantamweight
  • Men’s Flyweight
  • Women’s Featherweight
  • Women’s Bantamweight
  • Women’s Flyweight
  • Women’s Strawweight

In this article, we are going to present to you the UFC weight divisions, as well as all the champions for each of them. There’s not a lot of them – 8 for men and 4 for women – but that does not make it less interesting.

What Are the Different Weight Classes in the UFC and MMA?

In order to understand the UFC weight divisions, we have to understand how weight categories in MMA generally work. Since it would be of no use for us to describe all the categories, we shall present them to you in one table, which is pretty self-explanatory:

Weight Class Maximum Weight
Strawweight 115 lbs (52.2 kg)
Flyweight 125 lbs (56.7 kg)
Bantamweight 135 lbs (61.2 kg)
Featherweight 145 lbs (65.8 kg)
Lightweight 155 lbs (70.3 kg)
Super Lightweight 165 lbs (74.8 kg)
Welterweight 170 lbs (77.1 kg)
Super Welterweight 175 lbs (79.4 kg)
Middleweight 185 lbs (83.9 kg)
Super Middleweight 195 lbs (88.5 kg)
Light Heavyweight 205 lbs (93 kg)
Cruiserweight 225 lbs (102.1 kg)
Heavyweight 265 lbs (120.2 kg)
Super Heavyweight None

UFC Men’s Weight Classes (Divisions)

Now, as you will soon see, the UFC doesn’t have a division for each of the weight categories as they are presented in the table. The UFC only has eight divisions and they correspond to eight of the before mentioned categories.

The oldest one is the Heavyweight Division, founded back in 1997. The Light Heavyweight and Welterweight Divisions soon followed in December 1997 and 1998, respectively, with the Lightweight and Middleweight Divisions being introduced in 2001.

The most recent divisions are the Bantamweight and Featherweight, introduced in 2010, and the Flyweight Division, introduced in 2012. So, historically, the first ever weight division UFC champion was Mark Coleman, who won the Heavyweight belt back in 1997.

We will now present to you all the division champions across the categories:

Division Champion Nationality Since Defences
Flyweight Vacant December 19, 2012
Bantamweight Henry Cejudo United States June 8, 2019 0
Featherweight Alexander Volkanovski Australia December 14, 2019 0
Lightweight Khabib Nurmagomedov Russia April 7, 2018 2
Welterweight Kamaru Usman Nigeria March 2, 2019 1
Middlweight Israel Adesanya Nigeria October 6, 2019 1
Light Heavyweight Jon Jones United States December 29, 2018 3
Heavyweight Stipe Miocic United States August 17, 2019 0

UFC Women’s Weight Classes (Divisions)

The competition format for women is both newer in date and a lot smaller. Women only participate in four categories, with three of them being the same as the men’s and one being specifically for women. The oldest among them is the Women’s Bantamweight Division, which got its first champion at the end of 2012.

The end of 2014 saw the establishment of the Women’s Strawweight Division, while the remaining two divisions – Women’s Featherweight and Women’s Flyweight – started in 2017. So, the first female UFC champion in any category was American Ronda Rousey, who won the Women’s Bantamweight title in December 2012. 

This is the list of all the current female champions across the categories:

Division Champion Nationality Since Defences
Strawweight Zhang Weili PR China August 31, 2019 1
Flyweight Valentina Shevchenko Kyrgyzstan December 8, 2018 3
Bantamweight Amanda Nunes Brazil July 9, 2016 5
Featherweight Amanda Nunes Brazil December 29, 2018 0

UFC Tournaments and the Superfight Championship

Throughout its existence, the UFC has also held numerous openweight tournaments. Unlike the more-known divisions, openweight tournaments do not have any weight limits, which means that everyone can participate and that there can be a substantial difference in the physique of the fighters, something we’ve talked about at the beginning of this article.

Certainly, that could lead to unfair situations, but if you know the rules beforehand and accept them as they are, then the issue is a bit clearer. 

UFC has had two openweight competitions, with just one being active. The now defunct Superfight Championship was held only twice, in 1995 and 1996, was envisioned as a tournament that would determine the ultimate UFC champion. Ken Shamrock won the first edition, while his challenger from 1995, Dan Severn, became the tournament’s second and final winner. 

The UFC tournaments are held on an irregular basis since 1999 (until then, they’ve been an annual event, sometimes held more than once a year), from which moment only two tournaments have been held – one in 2003 and the most recent one in 2012. These tournaments were initially openweight, but have been associated with weight divisions since the UFC 12 edition in 1997. Of course, we bring you a list of all of them and the winners:

Tournament Date Division Winner
UFC 1 November 12, 1993 None Royce Gracie (BRA)
UFC 2 March 11, 1994 None Royce Gracie (BRA)
UFC 3 September 9, 1994 None Steve Jennum (USA)
UFC 4 December 16, 1994 None Royce Gracie (BRA)
UFC 5 April 7, 1995 None Dan Severn (USA)
UFC 6 July 14, 1995 None Oleg Taktarov (RUS)
UFC 7 September 8, 1995 None Marco Ruas (BRA)
The Ultimate Ultimate December 16, 1995 None Dan Severn (USA)
UFC 8 February 16, 1996 None Don Frye (USA)
UFC 10 July 20, 1996 None Mark Coleman (USA)
UFC 11 September 20, 1996 None Mark Coleman (USA)
The Ultimate Ultimate 2 December 7, 1996 None Don Fyre (USA)
UFC 12 February 7, 1997 Heavyweight Vitor Belfort (BRA)
Lightweight Jerry Bohlander (USA)
UFC 13 May 30, 1997 Heavyweight Randy Couture (USA)
Lightweight Guy Mezger (USA)
UFC 14 July 27, 1997 Heavyweight Mark Kerr (USA)
Lightweight Kevin Jackson (USA)
UFC 15 October 17, 1997 Heavyweight Mark Kerr (USA)
Ultimate Japan December 21, 1997 Heavyweight Kazushi Sakuraba (JAP)
UFC 16 March 13, 1998 Lightweight Pat Miletich (USA)
UFC 17 May 15, 1998 Middleweight Dan Henderson (USA)
UFC 23 November 19, 1999 Middleweight Kenichi Yamamoto (JAP)
UFC 39 February 28, 2003 Lightweight BJ Penn (USA) / Caol Uno (JAP) – draw
UFC 41
UFC on FX September 22, 2012 Flyweight Demetrious Johnson (USA)
UFC on FX 2
UFC 152

And that concludes our short analysis of UFC’s weight divisions and categories.

If you are interested in why there are weight classes and how are fighters cutting weight for specific weight classes, be sure to check the article we wrote.

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