Men’s and Women’s UFC Weight Classes

So how do weight classes work in the UFC, and are big people allowed to fight small people? Let's take at look at Men's and Women's UFC weight classes.

Men’s and Women’s UFC Weight Classes
Wade McElwain

Written by: Wade McElwain

(Senior Sports Writer)

Fact checked by: Umaima Saeed

(Sports Writer)

Last updated: 2024-01-03

Men’s and Women’s UFC Weight ClassesIcon

Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) has evolved into a riveting sport that encompasses skill, strength, and strategy. 
One of the significant aspects defining this sport is the categorization based on weight classes, creating a level playing field for fighters to showcase their abilities. After all, you don’t want to walk into the octagon to find out your opponent outweighs you by 80 pounds.  
Just like weight, gender also plays a factor in MMA fights, so let’s take a closer look at the differences and similarities of Men's and Women’s UFC weight classes.  

Men's MMA Weight Classes

In the UFC, when looking at weight classes in order for men. and these are structured to ensure fair competition and safety within the sport. These classes range from the flyweight division (up to 125 pounds) to the heavyweight division (over 205 pounds). Each weight class represents a spectrum of skills and physical attributes, fostering intense and balanced match-ups among fighters.

From the lightest to the heaviest, the UFC weight class categories are:
 Flyweight; Bantamweight; Featherweight; Lightweight; Welterweight; Middleweight; Light Heavyweight; and Heavyweight

The MMA weight classifications in men's UFC provide a comprehensive range, catering to various body types and fighting styles. Athletes meticulously select their weight class based on their physique, training regimen, and optimal performance to maximize their potential in the ring.

Of course fighters are constantly changing their UFC weight class to stay competitive and win titles in as many categories that they can. It takes a hard toll on the body to keep switching your weight though. 

Women's MMA Weight Classes

Similarly, women's MMA weight classes are designed with precision to accommodate the diversity in the female athlete pool. 
The UFC denotes 4 distinctive women weight classes in competition. Starting with the strawweight division (up to 115 pounds) and culminating in the featherweight division (over 145 pounds), these categories offer a platform for female fighters to compete at their respective weight ranges.

Women’s weight classes in the UFC is broken down in order into Strawweight; Flyweight; Bantamweight; and Featherweight, as women MMA fighters generally weigh less than men. 

Much like their male counterparts, female MMA fighters select their weight classes based on their body composition and fighting strengths. This ensures fair competition while allowing each athlete to perform at their peak capacity, contributing to the sport's electrifying matches and showcasing their skill sets.

Women can also move up or down in weight class in the UFC, depending on their opponent, and the title they have their sights set on. 

MMA Weight Classes.png

Differences in Weight Class Structures

While the essence of categorization based on weight remains consistent across men's and women's MMA, some differences in weight class structures exist. 
Notably, the weight divisions in women's MMA have a narrower range compared to men's divisions. This reflects the differences in average body compositions between genders, with women generally having lower average body weight and muscle mass compared to men.

Moreover, the popularity and historical development of MMA have influenced the depth of weight classes. 
The men's divisions typically feature a broader range and more intermediate weight classes, owing to the sport's longer existence and larger pool of male fighters. Not to mention that we all like to see the big boys throw down sometimes in a slug-fest.  
On the contrary, women's MMA, being a relatively newer facet of the sport, might have fewer divisions and, in turn, more competitive amalgamations across weight classes.

Impact on MMA Competitions

The distinct weight class structures in men's and women's MMA impact the dynamics of competitions and matchmaking. 
With men's divisions spanning a wider spectrum, fighters can find themselves in weight classes that align more precisely with their natural body weight, potentially resulting in more specialized skill sets within each division.
 Men like Conor McGregor have also switched weight classes to accommodate their egos, and desire for title glory. 

On the other hand, the narrower weight classes in women's MMA might lead to instances where fighters face opponents with slightly varying body compositions. This scenario often underscores the adaptability and versatility of female fighters, as they might need to adjust their fighting styles to accommodate slight discrepancies in physical attributes.

So while the fundamental concept of weight classes remains constant in both men's and women's MMA, there are nuanced differences in their structures and impact on the sport. These distinctions contribute to the vibrant tapestry of MMA, highlighting the diverse skill sets and physical attributes of fighters in their respective weight classes. 
As the sport continues to evolve, the intricacies of these divisions will further define the captivating nature of Mixed Martial Arts.
 Will we one day see a Super Super Heavyweight MMA fighter? 
The way society is going, you never know!

Wade McElwain

Wade McElwain

Wade McElwain is our Mr. NFL, a bona fide North American sports nut who knows about NBA, NHL, MLB, PGA plus MMA boxing and more. Originally from Canada, Wade is also an international award-winning stand-up comedian; host of numerous TV game shows; and a TV producer & writer. He also runs NFL in London-the largest NFL fan group in Europe, and has hosted NFL events at Wembley and around the world. Yes, he lives alone and does nothing but watch sports.

More articles by this author