UFC Weight Classes: 2023 Men’s and Women’s Divisions

The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is the biggest mixed martial arts promotion in the world with an estimated value of 9-10 billion dollars. The promotion came into being in 1993, and it has since revolutionized the fighting business.

Today, the UFC is home to some of the best fighters on the planet, and has a total of 12 weight classes: 8 men’s UFC weight classes and 4 women’s weight divisions.

Two MMA Fighters Fighting in Cage (Bruno Bueno)

When Did The UFC Introduce Weight Classes?

The UFC started its journey with an eight-man open weight tournament at UFC 1, but as the promotion grew popular, it started adding weight classes to its roster. The heavyweight and light heavyweight divisions were introduced first in 1997, followed by the welterweight division in 1998. Three years later in 2001, the promotion announced the lightweight and middleweight divisions. 

For almost a decade, the UFC relied on its big boys to give the fans the entertainment they were looking for, but after smaller fighters like Dominick Cruz, Demetrious Johnson, and Urijah Faber started making a lot of noise around 2010, new UFC weight classes, namely the bantamweight and featherweight divisions, were introduced. A couple of years later, the UFC flyweight division also followed.

For the first two decades, UFC weight classes were all male-dominated. In 2011, Dana White went as far as saying that he would never allow women to compete in the UFC, but with Ronda Rousey’s rise in Strikeforce, the UFC president was forced to change his mind. In 2012, the UFC added the women’s bantamweight division to its roster after acquiring Strikeforce, and within a couple of years, additional weight classes followed, allowing more female competitors to showcase their skills. The UFC strawweight division was introduced in 2014, followed by the featherweight and flyweight divisions in 2017.

Men’s weight classes in LB and KG

The UFC has eight different weight classes for men, starting from flyweight and going all the way up to the promotion’s marquee weight class, the UFC heavyweight division.

Weight classes (divisions)Max Weight in LBMax Weight in KG
Flyweight125 LB56.7 KG
Bantamweight135 LB61.2 KG
Featherweight145 LB65.8 KG
Lightweight155 LB70.3 KG
Welterweight170 LB77.1 KG
Middleweight185 LB83.9 KG
Light Heavyweight205 LB102.1 KG
Heavyweight265 LB120.2 KG

Women’s weight classes in LBs and KGs

The UFC has four women’s divisions, namely strawweight, flyweight, bantamweight, and featherweight.

Weight classes (divisions)Max Weight in LBMax Weight in KG
Strawweight115 LB52.5 KG
Flyweight125 LB56.7 KG
Bantamweight135 LB61.2 KG
Featherweight145 LB65.8 KG

UFC weight classes (divisions) explained – MEN’s divisions

Men’s flyweight division (125 LB 56.7 KG)

The men’s flyweight division doesn’t get the recognition it deserves despite being one of the more competitive and exciting UFC weight classes. The weight division was once home to GOATs like Demetrious Johnson and Henry Cejudo and it is constantly upgrading.

Inaugural champion: Demetrious Johnson

Demetrious Johnson ruled the UFC flyweight division for nearly a decade, taking out one challenger after another. He won the belt by beating Joseph Benavidez in 2013.

Reigning champion: Brandon Moreno

Brandon Moreno is a two-time UFC flyweight champion, and he most recently unified his 125-pound title by beating Deiveson Figueiredo at UFC 283.

Most successful champion: Demetrious Johnson

With 11 consecutive UFC title defenses to his name, Demetrious Johnson is the promotion’s most successful flyweight champion and the consensus GOAT of the weight class.

List of champions

  1. Demetrious Johnson
  2. Henry Cejudo
  3. Deiveson Figueiredo
  4. Brandon Moreno
  5. Deiveson Figueiredo
  6. Brandon Moreno

List of interim champions

  1. Brandon Moreno

Bantamweight Division (135 LB 61.2 KG)

The UFC bantamweight division has historically been one of the more exciting weight divisions. Since its introduction in the UFC, the weight class has produced legendary fighters and fights.

Inaugural champion: Dominick Cruz 

Dominick Cruz made history by becoming the promotion’s inaugural champion when he beat Scott Jorgensen at WEC 53.

Reigning champion: Aljamain Sterling

Aljamain Sterling is the current UFC bantamweight champion. He controversially won the title at UFC 259, where he defeated Petr Yan by a disqualification, although he did manage to beat him by a closely contested decision in their rematch.

Most successful champion: Dominick Cruz

With two title wins and three title defenses, Dominick Cruz is the most successful champion in the weight class.

List of champions 

  1. Dominick Cruz
  2. Renan Barao
  3. TJ Dillashaw
  4. Dominick Cruz
  5. Cody Garbrandt
  6. TJ Dillashaw
  7. Henry Cejudo
  8. Petr Yan
  9. Aljamain Sterling

List of interim champions

  1. Renan Barao
  2. Petr Yan

Featherweight Division (145 LB 65.8 KG)

The UFC featherweight has featured some of the biggest stars in the sport, including one of its most notable fighters, Conor McGregor. The weight class was added to the roster in 2010 after the UFC acquired World Extreme Cagefighting.

Inaugural champion: Jose Aldo 

The Brazilian has the honor of being the UFC’s first-ever and also the most successful featherweight champion. He reigned for five years before he was knocked out by Conor McGregor in only 13 seconds of their title fight at UFC 193 in 2015.

Reigning champion: Alexander Volkanovski 

Alex Volkanovski is the reigning UFC featherweight champion. He holds three notable wins over Max Holloway.

Most successful champion: Jose Aldo

With seven title defenses to his name, ‘The King of Rio’ is widely regarded as the featherweight GOAT.

List of champions

  1. Jose Aldo
  2. Conor McGregor
  3. Jose Aldo
  4. Max Holloway
  5. Alex Volkanovski

List of interim champions

  1. Conor McGregor
  2. Jose Aldo
  3. Max Holloway
  4. Yair Rodriguez

UFC Lightweight Division (155 LB 70.3 KG)

The UFC lightweight division is often regarded as the promotion’s deepest and most talented weight class. It is home to some of the greatest MMA fighters in the world, and it is highly competitive, which is why no lightweight champion has had more than three title defenses.

Inaugural champion: Jens Pulver

Jens Pulver made history at UFC 30 in 2001, when he beat Caol Uno to become the first man to win the lightweight title. Since then, the title has changed hands eleven times.

Reigning champion: Islam Makhachev

Islam Makhachev is the reigning UFC lightweight champion. He won the belt by beating Charles Oliveira at UFC 280.

Most successful champions: Frankie Edgar, Benson Henderson and Khabib Nurmagomedov

With three title defenses each, Frankie Edgar, Benson Henderson, and Khabib Nurmagomedov are the most successful champions in the weight class. Edgar and Henderson lost in their fourth title defenses, while Khabib retired after his third.

List of champions

  1. Jens Pulver
  2. Sean Sherk
  3. BJ Penn
  4. Frankie Edgar
  5. Benson Henderson
  6. Anthony Pettis
  7. Rafael dos Anjos
  8. Eddie Alvarez
  9. Conor McGregor
  10. Khabib Nurmagomedov
  11. Charles Oliveira
  12. Islam Makhachev

List of interim champions

  1. Tony Ferguson
  2. Dustin Poirier
  3. Justin Gaethje

Welterweight Division (170 LB 77.1 KG)

The welterweight division is one of the most popular UFC weight classes, thanks to Georges St-Pierre, who took the UFC to greater heights with his incredible title run in the division.

Inaugural champion: Pat Miletich

Pat Miletich became the first UFC welterweight champion after beating Mikey Burnett by a split decision at UFC Brazil in 1998.

Reigning champion: Leon Edwards

Leon Edwards became the new welterweight champion by beating Kamaru Usman at UFC 278. Usman was on a 15-fight winning streak in the welterweight division when he suffered his first loss to Edwards.

Most successful champion: Georges St-Pierre

With two welterweight title wins and nine title defenses, GSP is the greatest welterweight champion and one of the greatest fighters of all time. He also holds the record for the most title wins in the UFC welterweight division.

List of champions

  1. Pat Miletich
  2. Carlos Newton
  3. Matt Hughes
  4. BJ Penn
  5. Matt Hughes
  6. Georges St Pierre
  7. Matt Serra
  8. Georges St Pierre
  9. Johny Hendricks
  10. Robbie Lawler
  11. Tyron Woodley
  12. Kamaru Usman
  13. Leon Edwards

List of interim champions

  1. Georges St Pierre
  2. Carlos Condit
  3. Colby Covington

Middleweight Division (185 LB 83.9 KG)

Widely regarded as one of the most stacked UFC weight classes, the middleweight division has produced legends like Anderson ‘The Spider’ Silva, Forrest Griffin, Michael Bisping, Robert Whittaker, and Israel Adesanya.

Inaugural champion: Dave Menne

Dave Menne won the inaugural UFC middleweight title by defeating Gil Castillo at UFC 33 in 2001.

Reigning champion: Alex Pereira

Despite being a new addition to the UFC middleweight division, Alex Pereira was fast-tracked to a middleweight title shot due to his twin victories against former middleweight champion Israel Adesanya in kickboxing. The two fighters locked horns at UFC 281, where Pereira scored a comeback knockout to win the middleweight title.

Most successful champions: Anderson Silva

Anderson ‘The Spider’ Silva is the most successful UFC middleweight champion. Widely regarded as the greatest of all time, Silva defended his title ten times before eventually losing it to Chris Weidman at UFC 162 in 2013.

List of champions

  1. Dave Menne
  2. Murilo Bustamante
  3. Evan Tanner
  4. Rich Franklin
  5. Anderson Silva
  6. Chris Weidman
  7. Luke Rockhold
  8. Michael Bisping
  9. Georges St Pierre
  10. Robert Whitaker
  11. Israel Adesanya
  12. Alex Pereira

List of interim champions

  1. Robert Whittaker
  2. Israel Adesanya

Light Heavyweight Division (205 LB 102.1 KG)

The UFC light heavyweight division was a shark tank back in the day, with fighters like Chuck Liddell, Tito Ortiz, Lyoto Machida, Mauricio Rua, Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson and Vitor Belfort taking each other head-on for the ultimate glory. After Jon ‘Bones’ Jones’ arrival, however, it was one-way traffic.

Inaugural champion: Frank Shamrock

Frank Shamrock is the inaugural UFC light heavyweight champion. He won the title by defeating Kevin Jackson at UFC Japan in 1997.

Reigning champion: Jamahal Hill

Jamahal Hill is the reigning champion in the UFC light heavyweight division. He won it after defeating Glover Teixeira in a vacant title fight at UFC 283. The title was vacated by Jiri Prochazka due to injury.

Most successful champion: Jon Jones

Jones is without a doubt the greatest light heavyweight of all time. He is a two-time light heavyweight champion, with 11 title defenses to his name. He vacated his title in 2020, after successfully defending it against Dominick Reyes.

List of champions

  1. Frank Shamrock
  2. Tito Ortiz
  3. Randy Couture
  4. Vitor Belfort
  5. Randy Couture
  6. Chuck Liddell
  7. Quinton Jackson
  8. Forrest Griffin
  9. Rashad Evans
  10. Lyoto Machida
  11. Mauricio Rua 
  12. Jon Jones
  13. Daniel Cormier
  14. Jon Jones 
  15. Jan Blachowicz
  16. Glover Teixeira
  17. Jiri Prochazka
  18. Jamahal Hill

List of interim champions

  1. Randy Couture
  2. Jon ‘Bones’ Jones

Heavyweight Division (265 LB 120.2 KG)

The heavyweight division is the UFC’s pride. It is the oldest and arguably one of the most important UFC weight classes. 

Inaugural champion: Mark Coleman

After its introduction in 1997, the UFC crowned Mark Coleman as its first-ever heavyweight champion when he beat Dan Severn at UFC 12.

Reigning champion: Jon ‘Bones’ Jones

Jones made his return to the Octagon after a three-year lay-off at UFC 285, where he conquered the UFC heavyweight title by dispatching Ciryl Gane in the first round.

Most successful champion: Stipe Miocic

With four successful title defenses in the heavyweight division, Stipe Miocic is the most successful heavyweight champion.

List of champions

  1. Mark Coleman
  2. Maurice Smith
  3. Randy Couture
  4. Bas Rutten
  5. Kevin Randleman
  6. Randy Couture
  7. Josh Barnett
  8. Ricco Rodriguez
  9. Tim Sylvia
  10. Frank Mir
  11. Andrei Arlovski
  12. Tim Sylvia
  13. Randy Couture
  14. Brock Lesnar
  15. Cain Velasquez
  16. Junior dos Santos
  17. Cain Velasquez
  18. Fabricio Werdum
  19. Daniel Cormier
  20. Stipe Miocic
  21. Francis Ngannou
  22. Jon Jones

Interim champions

  1. Andrei Arlovski
  2. Antonio Minotauro Nogueira
  3. Frank Mir
  4. Shane Carwin
  5. Fabricio Werdum
  6. Ciryl Gane

UFC weight classes (divisions) explained – WOMEN’s divisions

Women’s Strawweight Division – (115 LB 52.5 KG)

The UFC strawweight division is reserved solely for women, and it is one of the most exciting weight classes in the promotion. The quality of fights is the best as far as women’s MMA is concerned.

Inaugural champion: Carla Esparza

Carla ‘Cookie Monster’ Esparza was the promotion’s first strawweight champion, and she won the belt by beating Rose Namajunas in 2014.

Reigning champion: Zhang Weili

Zhang Weili is a two-time strawweight champion and she submitted Carla Esparza to kickstart her second title reign at UFC 281.

Most successful champion: Joanna Jedrzejczyk

Joanna Jedrzejczyk is widely regarded as the undisputed queen of the strawweight world. After winning the belt in 2015, she defended it a record five times before losing it to Rose Namajunas in 2017.

List of champions

  1. Carla Esparza
  2. Joanna Champion
  3. Rose Namajunas
  4. Jessica Andrade
  5. Zhang Weili
  6. Rose Namajunas
  7. Zhang Weili

Women’s Flyweight Division (125 LB 56.7 KG)

The UFC women’s flyweight division was introduced only a few years ago in 2017, and the quality of competition is still improving by the day, although there has been a significant rise in the quality of contenders during the past two years.

Inaugural champion: Nicco Montana

Nicco Montana won the inaugural flyweight title by beating Roxanne Modafferi in the flyweight tournament finale at The Ultimate Fighter 26. Her title reign didn’t last very long as she was stripped after failing to make weight for her first title defense against Valentina Shevchenko at UFC 228.

Current champion: Alexa Grasso

Alexa Grasso is the reigning flyweight queen, and she won the belt by submitting Valentina Shevchenko in one of the biggest upsets in UFC history at UFC 285.

Most successful champion: Valentina Shevchenko

For nearly six years, Valentina Shevchenko dominated the flyweight division, dispatching one contender after another. She currently holds the record for the most title defenses by a woman in UFC history (7). 

List of champions

  1. Nicco Montana
  2. Valentina Shevchenko
  3. Alexa Grasso 

Women’s Bantamweight Division (135 LB 61.2 KG)

The UFC introduced the women’s bantamweight division in 2012, thanks to Ronda Rousey’s high demand at that time. It is one of the most recognizable UFC weight classes in mixed martial arts.

Inaugural champion: Ronda Rousey

Strikeforce bantamweight queen Ronda Rousey became the inaugural UFC bantamweight champion after the UFC-Strikeforce merger.

Reigning champion: Amanda Nunes

Amanda Nunes is widely regarded as the greatest women’s bantamweight of all time. She won the 135-pound title twice, with five successful title defenses.

Most successful champion: Amanda Nunes

List of champions

  1. Ronda Rousey
  2. Holly Holm
  3. Miesha Tate
  4. Amanda Nunes
  5. Julianna Pena
  6. Amanda Nunes

Women’s Featherweight Division (145 LB 65.8 KG)

The UFC women’s featherweight division is the least active weight class in the promotion, due to a lack of actual featherweight fighters on the roster. There hasn’t been a fight in the division since September 2022, and the last title fight in the weight class was back in March 2021, when Amanda Nunes defeated Megan Anderson.

Inaugural champion: Germaine de Randamie

Germaine de Randamie won the inaugural women’s feather title after beating Holly Holm in 2017, but she was stripped of her title after she refused to fight Cris Cyborg.

Current champion: Amanda Nunes

Amanda Nunes became a two-division UFC champ by beating Cris Cyborg in the biggest mixed martial arts fight in women’s MMA at UFC 232.

Most successful champions: Amanda Nunes and Cris Cyborg

With two title defenses each, Amanda Nunes and Cris Cyborg are the most successful UFC featherweight champions.

List of champions

  1. Germaine de Randamie
  2. Cris Cyborg
  3. Amanda Nunes

What Is The Importance Of UFC Weight Divisions?

Weight divisions in combat sports, especially in mixed martial arts, are important since they provide a level-playing field by allowing fighters to compete against athletes their own size. Every organization is bound to design rules around protecting the fighters, and weight divisions are one way to protect fighters from unwanted injuries. More weight classes are also great for the fans since they can enjoy a higher level of competition, without fights becoming a complete mismatch.

Other organizations use different weight classes – and sports like BJJ have their own divisions as well. The weight classes a fight organization use have a huge impact on the fighters and matches they can book.

The UFC’s Weigh-In Policy

All UFC weight classes follow a strict weigh-in policy, whereby a fighter is obliged to make their desired weight limit. Non title bouts usually have a relaxation of one LB above the desired weight limit, but there is no relaxation in title fights. The weigh-ins take place 24 hours before a fight so that fighters have enough time to rehydrate. 

What Is The Weight Cutting Procedure In The UFC?

Fighters mainly cut down to their division’s maximum weight limit by dehydrating themselves throughout the cut. Since water makes up sixty percent of our body weight, cutting it down is an important process of losing weight rapidly. Sauna suits come in handy during weight cutting, whereas fighters also keep a check on their diet, avoiding carbs and salts at all costs.

What Happens When A Fighter Misses Weight?

If a UFC fighter misses weight during the initial weigh-ins, they are given an additional hour to make the cut. But if they still fail to do so in non title bouts, fighters are either penalized with a portion of their earnings going to their opponent, or the fight is canceled. Moreover, the UFC does not award any ranking points to the fighter.

On rare occasions, the UFC will hold a catchweight bout in between weight classes to accommodate for a fighter missing weight.

If a UFC champion misses weight, they are stripped of their UFC belt, and if the fight goes as planned, only the challenger is eligible to win it. Most recently, Charles Oliveira was stripped of his lightweight title after missing weight by half a pound before his third title defense against Justin Gaethje at UFC 274. Although Oliveira managed to win by submission in the first round, the belt remained vacant.

Will There Be More Weight Classes In The UFC?

As of now, Dana White isn’t interested in adding more UFC weight classes. There was some talk of a 165 LBs Super Lightweight division back when Khabib Nurmagomedov was the champion. Many fighters including Khabib and Kevin Lee urged the Ultimate Fighting Championship to add the 165 LBs division because they thought some lightweights were too big for the 155 LBs division, while too small for the welterweight or 170 LB 77.1 KG division.

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