Weight classes were not always an integral part of MMA competitions. In the early days of the sport, fans wanted to see if a smaller competitor could beat the odds against an opponent with a size and strength advantage. Unified MMA rules were organized into weight classes to bring competitors to an even level on the playing field. Many promotions like the UFC and Bellator follow the model of unified MMA rules, having 8 weight classes open for competition. Would the addition of several weight classes help combat extreme weight cutting in MMA?
Unified MMA Weight Classes
Here are the upper limit weights of each division in the unified MMA rules.
Flyweight- 125 lbs.
Bantamweight- 135 lbs.
Featherweight- 145 lbs.
Lightweight- 155 lbs.
Middleweight- 185 lbs.
Light Heavyweight- 205 lbs.
Heavyweight- 265 lbs.
Super Heavyweight- No weight limit.
Stuck in the Middle
The hardest position to be in as a competitive MMA athlete with these weight classes has got to be being between weight classes. If you go up, will you be able to beat bigger opponents? If you want to move down, will you try to cut too far? Every body is different depending on how much weight is losable to move down. Adding more weight classes could offer more options for MMA athletes and provide them a safer weight to reach when cutting down. Imagine how much the game could change with additional classes between the last 4 divisions?
The 15 lb. gaps between lightweight, welterweight and middleweight are huge. Imagine walking around at 205 lbs. Do you try to fight guys who are coming down to meet you or try to cut down to be 20 lbs. lighter? This is not to mention the dilemma of being stuck in the middle between light heavyweight and heavyweight. Perhaps the unified MMA rules don’t need to include the same amount of weight classes as professional boxing, but more options for fighters means healthier athletes. The healthier the athletes in your roster are, the longer careers they can achieve with far better performances. Adding more weight classes for fighters seems like it would be in the best interest of MMA organizations under the unified MMA rules.
Do you think adding weight classes to unified MMA rules will give fighters a way to avoid extreme weight cuts? What adverse effects could the addition of weight classes have on MMA?