MMA Weight Classes: Are There Enough?

MMA weight classes can get complicated especially when you compare them to boxing. If you’re finding yourself confused by the differences between MMA and Boxing weight classes, you’re not alone. Today we’re going to take a look into the upper limits of each weight class. We’re also going to look at which divisions produce the most dominant champs. Then, finally, we’ll answer the million-dollar question, are there enough MMA weight classes?

francis ngannou and brandon moreno standing next to each other in the cage

Francis Ngannou and Brandon Moreno

  • The MMA Weight Classes

    Let’s cut to the chase. While the UFC currently have a total of 9 weight classes (men and women combined) there are actually 15 weight classes in total according to the Unified Rules of Mixed Martial Arts:

    The complete list of MMA weight classes according to the Unified rules of mixed martial arts

  • One Championship

    One Championship logo

    Most MMA promotions in the west follow the Unified Rules of Mixed Martial Arts’ weight class limits. This is true for 2 of the largest promotions in North America, the UFC and Bellator.

    However, there is one exception. One Championship who is the largest MMA promotion in Asia use a completely different weight class and weigh in system.

    One Championship’s weight classes are based on the athletes ‘walking-weight’.  This means that One Championship athletes compete at the weight that they walk around at. The organisation has further implemented safety measures by ensuring athletes are fully hydrated leading up to their bout.

  • Which weight classes are the GOATs from

    picture of a goat

    There’s an old saying that goes ‘The easiest part is getting to the top, the hardest part is staying there.’ While becoming a world champion isn’t easy by any stretch of the imagination. But staying there is definitely an achievement that only few can achieve.

    Here are some notable champs who are considered as the ‘G.O.A.T.s’ (Greatest Of All Time) of their MMA weight classes.

  • Georges St Pierre Welterweight

    GSP throwing a superman punch

    Georges ‘Rush’ St. Pierre or ‘GSP’ is one of the greatest Welterweights of all time. His title reign in the UFC between 2008-2013 spanned a stunning 9 title defenses during the ‘GSP’ era. This reign made him the face of the UFC and one of the earliest super stars of Mixed Martial Arts.

  • Jon Jones Light heavyweight

    Montage of Jon Jones fight highlights

    Jon ‘Bones’ Jones has established his name as one of the most talented athletes to ever enter the octagon. His reach, speed and athleticism coupled with his exciting style earned him a total of 11 title defenses over 2 separate reigns. His first title reign between 2011-2015 saw him defend his Light Heavyweight title 8 times. If that’s not impressive enough, he also had a second reign in 2019-2020, which he defended 3 times.

  • Amanda Nunes Bantamweight and Featherweight

    Amanda Nunes poses on the scale as she weighs in

    Sitting on top of the female ‘Greatest of all time’ list is Brazilian sensation Amanda Nunes. She is first woman in UFC history to hold 2 belts in 2 separate MMA weight classes while simultaneously defending them both. Nunes defended her Bantamweight title 5 times and defended her Featherweight title twice for a total of 7 title defenses.

  • Anderson Silva Middleweight

    Anderson Silva evades Forest Griffins punches using head movement and then knocks him down with a straight left

    Anderson ‘The Spider’ Silva holds the record for the longest title reign in the UFC. He held the Middleweight title for an astonishing 2457 days, successfully defending the belt 10 times between 2006-2013.  This amazing UFC title reign has cemented his name as one of the legends of MMA, with many putting him on the top of their ‘Greatest of all time’ list.

  • Demetrious Johnson Flyweight

    Demetrious Johnson celebrates as Dana White wraps the belt around his waist

    Demetrious ‘Mighty Mouse’ Johnson has earned the reputation as the ‘G.O.A.T.’ from MMA fans as well as the MMA industry. He had an unmatched 11 title defenses in the UFC’s Flyweight division between 2013-2017. This is the most consecutive title defenses the promotion has ever seen. Known for his sharp technical prowess and incredible fight IQ, DJ’s reign made his Flyweight matches some of the most exciting MMA fights to watch.

  • Final thoughts

    Let’s get back to our initial question. Are there enough MMA weight classes?

    Most of the big MMA promotions like the UFC and Bellator only use select divisions for their fighters to compete in. Truthfully, it’s probable that most fans aren’t even aware of the other weight classes available. Add One Championship’s unique weight classes to the fold and there undoubtedly are plenty of divisions for athletes to compete in.

    So, to answer the question, yes, there are enough MMA weight classes. With so many fighters being able to compete in multiple divisions, it would be great to see more of the MMA weight classes get utilized by the big shows in the future. After all, more weight classes mean more champions which in turn means more stars right?

    What do you think? Are there enough weight classes in MMA?