The UFC is not just the world’s biggest MMA promotion. It is also the first MMA promotion to solidify the concept of weight classes in the US. Before the UFC, most MMA promotions were open weight so skill became more of a matter of size and strength. However, with the establishment of weight classes, the UFC became something close to a professional sporting brand much like boxing. This happened at UFC 12 held on Feb 7, 1997, in Dothan, Alabama. This event made a distinction between heavyweights and lightweights at 200 lbs.
From then, UFC events continued to draw distinct weight classes and turned lightweights to middleweight for the first time at UFC 14. The lightweight division was reinstated at UFC 16 and this went on until UFC 26.
At this event, the UFC introduced the bantamweight division. After that, the UFC has consistently added more weight classes and now the total stands at nine weight classes.
Now that we have looked at how the UFC added weight classes, let’s look at each weight class and who is ruling it right now:
UFC Weight Classes and Champions
1. Strawweight – 115 lbs.
The strawweight championship is the lightest division in the UFC. It was first established in 2014 and its most celebrated champions are Joanna Jedrzejczyk and Rose Namajunas. Non-title bouts have a range of one-pound variation while all title bouts must weigh in at or less than 115 pounds. The current champion is Zhang Weili.
2. Flyweight – 125 lbs.
The flyweight division is the lightest men’s segment and the second lightest for women. The most well-known female champion in this division is Valentina Shevchenko.
The male flyweight title will be contested between Deiveson Figueiredo and Brandon Moreno in January 2023 at UFC 283 in Brazil.
Fighters can weigh up to 126 pounds for non-title bouts and at or less than 125 pounds for title fights. The current female champ is Valentina Shevchenko and the male champion is Deiveson Figueiredo.
3. Bantamweight – 135 lbs.
The bantamweight weight class exists for both men and women and is arguably the one with the best fights for women’s MMA.
The first UFC women’s champion Rhonda Rousey had her epic run in this division. Title fights happen at or less than 135 pounds while non-title fights happen at max 136 pounds. The current female champion is Amanda Nunes and the male champion is Aljamain Sterling.
4. Featherweight – 145 lbs.
The featherweight division has both male and female fighters. In this division, we have some of the biggest names in the sport’s history making their appearance including Conor McGregor, Jose Aldo, Frankie Edgar and others.
Title fights go at 145 pounds or less while non-title bouts can go up to 146 pounds. The current featherweight champion is Alexander Volkanovski.
5. Lightweight – 155 lbs.
The lightweight division is one of the most hotly contested and popular divisions in the UFC. This division hosted the UFC GOAT Khabib Nurmagomedov. It also has other greats like Justin Gaethje, Dustin Poirier, Michael Chandler and others.
Title bouts go at or less than 155 pounds while non-title bouts go at 155.5 pounds max. The current lightweight champ is Islam Makhachev.
6. Welterweight – 170 lbs.
The welterweight division is most well-known for names like George St Pierre, Kamaru Usman, Johnny Hendricks, Rory MacDonald and others. Title bouts go at 170 pounds while non-title bouts go at 176pounds. The current champion is Leon Edwards.
7. Middleweight – 185 lbs.
The middleweight division has had UFC GOATS like Anderson Silva, Vitor Belfort, Lyoto Machida and Dan Henderson. Title bouts go at 185 pounds while non-title bouts go up to 186 pounds. The current middleweight champion is Alex Pereira.
8. Light heavyweight – 205 lbs.
The light heavyweight has had names like Jon Jones. Mauricio Rua, Dan Henderson, Johnny Walker. Title bouts happen at 205 pounds while non-title bouts happen at a max of 206 pounds. The current light heavyweight champion is Jiří “Denisa” Procházka.
9. Heavyweight – 265 lbs.
The heavyweight division has had names like Daniel Cormier, Frank Mir, Brock Lesnar and others. Title bouts go at 265 pounds or less while non-title bouts can go up to 266 pounds. The current heavyweight champion is Francis Ngannou.
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