The 8 Weight Divisions of the UFC
By Loot, MMA Handicapper, Lootmeister.com
When the UFC first began, you could see a 160-pound guy fighting a 400-pounder. Thankfully, as the sport has evolved, so have the weight classes. It took a while, but we are now up to 8 weight classes. It wasn’t too long ago where there was only heavyweight, light heavyweight, middleweight, welterweight, and lightweight. But now, featherweight, bantamweight, and flyweight have been added to the UFC lineup, in addition to a women’s bantamweight class. MMA fans are now beginning to see what boxing fans have known for generations--that sometimes the small fighters make for the best fights. Here is a breakdown of all the weight classes in the UFC.
Heavyweight: The maximum weight for heavyweight is 265 pounds. Unlike boxing, there is a maximum weight for the big boys. The first heavyweight champion was Mark Coleman, who won the title in 1997. Some of the better UFC Heavyweight Champions have been Coleman, Randy Couture, Bas Rutten, Frank Mir, Andrei Arlovski, Brock Lesnar, Junior dos Santos, and Cain Velasquez.
Light Heavyweight: The maximum weight for light heavyweight is 205 pounds. This has been the glamor division of the UFC, with some of the best and most important fights having taken place within this division. The first crowned light heavyweight champion was Frank Shamrock, who claimed the belt in 1997. Some of the better light heavyweight champions have been Shamrock, Tito Ortiz, Randy Couture, Chuck Liddell, Lyoto Machida, and Jon Jones.
Middleweight: The maximum weight for middleweight is 185 pounds. The division has been home to some of the best fights in the organization. The division’s first-ever champion was Dave Menne, who claimed the title in 2001. Among the stalwart middleweight champions that have plied their trade in the UFC include Rich Franklin and UFC record-holder Anderson Silva, who defended his title more than any UFC fighter in history (10 times), before losing his belt in 2013 to Chris Weidman.
Welterweight: The maximum weight for welterweight is 170 pounds. Another cornerstone of the UFC, the welterweight division has seen some of the sport’s biggest stars and the best rivalries. A disproportionate number of the sport’s biggest stars did their finest work in the welterweight division. The first welterweight champion was Pat Miletich, who won the title in 1998. Among the division’s finest champions include Miletich, Matt Hughes, BJ Penn, and long-reigning champion Georges St. Pierre.
Lightweight: The maximum weight for lightweight is 155 pounds. For the longest time, this was the smallest weight class in the UFC, but it produced some of its biggest stars. The first-ever champion was Jens Pulver, who was champion in 2001-2002. Among the best champions in the history of the UFC lightweight division are Sean Sherk, BJ Penn, Frankie Edgar, and Benson Henderson, who lost his title to Anthony Pettis in 2013.
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Featherweight: The maximum weight limit for featherweight is 145 pounds. This is one of newer divisions added to the UFC, as the organization tries to make accommodations for some of the better smaller fighters in the world. They are glad they did, as featherweight instantly turned into a hotbed of action in the UFC. Reigning since 2010, Brazilian Jose Aldo established himself as a top force in the UFC and the first star featherweight.
Bantamweight: Another division that is among the more recent additions to the UFC, bantamweight has a maximum weight limit of 135 pounds. When the UFC merged with WEC, they absorbed a bunch of fighters who participated in divisions that had not yet been embraced by the UFC. This is when the UFC added featherweight and bantamweight. The first champion was Dominick Cruz, but injuries forced him onto the sidelines for a long spell. In his absence, Renan Barao stepped in as interim champion, becoming the top bantamweight fighter in the world.
Flyweight: The smallest division in the UFC has a maximum weight allowance of 125 pounds. In 2012, the UFC had a 4-man tournament to determine the identity of its first-ever UFC Flyweight Champion. That tournament was won by lightning-fast Demetrious Johnson, who proved his worth by winning some subsequent title defenses, where he immediately lent credence to the flyweight division.
UFC Women’s Division
Bantamweight: As of this writing, bantamweight is the only women’s division. Just as with the men, the maximum allowable weight is 135 pounds. Women’s fights only became part of the UFC in 2013, with Ronda Rousey named the champion, based on her being the WEC champion. As women’s MMA increases in popularity, look for the number of divisions to increase.