In mixed martial arts, athletes compete in weight classes where they must weigh in at or around a specific weight the day before their fight at the UFC official weigh-ins.
The UFC currently has 12 weight classes, all that require fighters to weigh in under a desired limit. Generally, fighters try to weigh in at the exact limit so they can lose the least amount of weight during the weight cutting process while still meeting the required number on the scale.
Failure to reach the required weight results in either the athlete forfeiting a percentage of their fight purse to their opponent, an agreement between the two athletes to compete at a non-weight class specific weight (catchweight) or having the fight cancelled altogether.
UFC official weigh-ins are held the day before fight night and require athletes to weigh-in between 9am and 11am local time. Depending on the State Athletic Commission regulating the bout, and / or the amount of weight required to be made, an athlete who misses weight may be given one additional hour from the time of their weigh-in to try and lose the remaining weight and try again.
For non-title bouts, athletes can weigh one pound above the division’s weight limit, whereas title fights require athletes to weigh in at exactly, or under, the specific weight.
Sound confusing? That’s because it is! So here is everything you need to know to understand UFC weight classes:
Strawweight – 115 pounds
The strawweight division is the lightest division currently in the UFC and one of the four women’s weight classes. In 2014, former strawweight champion Carla Esparza defeated Rose Namajunas to become the inaugural champion. Since then, the division has seen its fair share of UFC legends, like Joanna Jedrzejczyk and Rose Namajunas.
For non-title bouts, strawweight athletes have a one-pound leeway on the scale, meaning they can weigh up to 116 pounds. For title bouts, athletes must weigh in at or under 115 pounds.
Flyweight – 125 pounds
The flyweight division is the first of three weight classes to host both a men’s and women’s division. These two divisions have seen new champions in 2023, with Alexa Grasso winning the women's belt at UFC 285 in March and Alexandre Pantoja taking the throne on the men's side at UFC 290 in July.
For non-title bouts, flyweight athletes can weigh in up to 126 pounds, while title fights require athletes to weigh in at or under 125 pounds.
In 2020, former division champion Deiveson Figueiredo was scheduled to fight in a flyweight championship bout against Joseph Benavidez. However, Figueiredo weighed in at 127.5 pounds, 2.5 pounds over the championship limit. Despite winning the fight, Figueiredo did not become champion since he missed weight, and instead was given a rematch five months later.
Bantamweight – 135 pounds
Another weight class to have both a men’s and women’s division, the bantamweight divisions have held some of the most iconic athletes and epic fights of this generation. One of the pioneers of women’s MMA, Ronda Rousey, built her legacy in the bantamweight division, amassing six successful title defenses as the division’s first champion.
For non-title bouts, bantamweight athletes can weigh in up to 136 pounds, while title fights require a 135-pound limit.
Featherweight – 145 pounds
The last weight class to feature both a men’s and women’s division is featherweight. Originating in 2010, after absorbing WEC’s 145-pound weight class, the UFC featherweight division has been the home to some of the most highly anticipated matchups in UFC history, including an iconic title bout between inaugural division champion José Aldo and Irish superstar Conor McGregor. Today, Alexander Volkanovski holds the title on the men's side and the now-retired Amanda Nunes is the most recent champion on the women's side.
For non-title bouts, featherweight athletes can weigh in up to 146 pounds, while title fights require athletes to weigh in at or under 145 pounds.
Lightweight – 155 pounds
Known as one of the deepest divisions in terms of talent, the UFC lightweight division has been the center of attention in recent years after the retirement of UFC Hall of Famer and former lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov.
At UFC 280: Oliveira vs Makhachev, current lightweight champion Islam Makhachev defeated Charles Oliveira in their lightweight title bout, a title that was vacant due to former champion Oliveira missing weight by half a pound (155.5) ahead of his championship bout against Justin Gaethje at UFC 274.
For non-title bouts, lightweight athletes can weigh in up to 156 pounds, while title fights require athletes to weigh in at or under 155 pounds.
Welterweight – 170 pounds
The welterweight division is the first 15-pound jump between weight classes and has seen a rise in contenders as of late. In 2022, Leon Edwards stunned former welterweight champion and former pound-for-pound No. 1 Kamaru Usman with a fifth-round KO in the main event of UFC 278. Khamzat Chimaev and Belal Muhammad have also solidified their places in the Top 5 with dominant wins this fall.
Despite a larger jump in weight between divisions, for non-title bouts, welterweight athletes can still only weigh in up to 176 pounds, while title fights require athletes to weigh in at or under 170 pounds.
Middleweight – 185 pounds
For non-title bouts, middleweight athletes can weigh in up to 186 pounds, while title fights require athletes to weigh in at or under 185 pounds.
Light heavyweight – 205 pounds
A 20-pound jump from middleweight, the light heavyweight division has featured one of UFC greatest talents of all-time including Jon Jones. “Bones” held the light heavyweight belt from 2011-2015 and 2018-2020, amassing 11 successful title defenses during that time. Alex Pereira now holds the belt after defeating Jiří Procházka by round 2 KO at UFC 295.
For non-title bouts, light heavyweight athletes can weigh in up to 206 pounds, while title fights require athletes to weigh in at or under 205 pounds.
Heavyweight – 265 pounds
Here’s where it gets fun. The UFC heavyweight division has the most leeway of any division in the promotion, with athletes often weighing in several pounds under the required limit.
For example, at UFC Paris in September 2022, Ciryl Gane weighed in for his heavyweight bout at 247 pounds, while Tai Tuivasa his opponent weighed in at the heavyweight non-title limit of 266 pounds. Some heavyweight athletes choose to have this weight discrepancy so they can have a slight speed or strength advantage, depending on their skill set and fight style.
For non-title bouts, heavyweight athletes can weigh in up to 266 pounds, while title fights require athletes to weigh in at or under 265 pounds.