If you have begun competing as an MMA fighter you may be wondering, what weight class should I fight in? Though there are many reasons why an MMA fighter may choose to fight in a particular weight class, beginners should consider fighting at their natural weight. Getting started with competing can be strenuous enough without the added burden of making a particular weight. But there may come a time when you and your coach decide that moving to a specific weight class is the right decision for you.
In this article we will help you to determine what weight class is appropriate for you. Keep in mind that it is always important to listen to your body. Don’t ever starve yourself or practice unhealthy habits to achieve or maintain a certain weight class. Always speak with you coach for guidance on choosing a weight class and let them guide you in achieving your desired weight class.
What Are Weight Classes?
In MMA there are currently nine weight classes that a fighter may choose to fight in. Simply put the weight classes are a guide to what a fighter must weigh in order to fight in a specific weight class. In each category the posted weight is the upper weight limit. By exceeding the upper weight limit a fighter may not fight in that weight class. Fighters may choose to fight in different weight classes in order to fight, or not fight another fighter. Or they may choose a weight class based on their athletic performance at that weight. Listed below are the current MMA weight classes.
Men’s MMA Weight Classes
- Flyweight – 125 lbs/57 kg
- Bantamweight – 135 lbs/61 kg
- Featherweight – 145 lbs/66 kg
- Lightweight – 155 lbs/70 kg
- Welterweight – 170 lbs/77 kg
- Middleweight – 185 lbs/84 kg
- Light Heavyweight – 205 lbs/93 kg
- Heavyweight – 265 lbs/120 kg
- Super Heavyweight – 265 lbs and up. There is no upper weight limit.
Women’s MMA Weight Classes
- Flyweight – 95 lbs/43 kg
- Bantamweight – 105 lbs/47 kg
- Featherweight – 115 lbs/ 52 kg
- Lightweight – 125 lbs/ 56 kg
- Welterweight – 135 lbs/61 kg
- Middleweight – 145 lbs/65 kg
- Light Heavyweight – 155 lbs/ 70kg
- Heavyweight – 165 lbs/74 kg
- Super Heavyweight – 175 lbs and up. There is no upper weight limit.
What Happens at Weigh In?
When an MMA fighter, either professional or amateur, prepares for weigh-ins it can be stressful. Weigh in is set at a specific day and time close to and often the night before a fight. At this time a fighter must be able to step on a scale in front of officials in order to demonstrate that they are within the weight limits of their desired weight category. For professional fighters a lot of preparation goes into weight in and it is critical that they make weight. Amateur or recreational fighters may have a more relaxed experience where they simply have their weight class confirmed.
Professionals are not able to change their weight class on a whim and if they miss weight, they may not be able to fight. Recreational and local tournaments will likely allow fighters to move weight classes in order to have fun and compete though you should always ensure you check the rules for any local competition before you prepare for a weigh in.
In most cases fighters will remove all but their undergarments for weigh in. Officials monitoring weigh in are of the same gender as the fighter. There is no getting around the fact that you will have to weigh in, but for recreational competitions there may be arrangements made to accommodate modesty if requested.
Why to Not Stress About Weight Class
Unless you are a professional or competitive MMA fighter you really shouldn’t worry too much about your weight class. If you are competing you are likely fit and healthy. Many athletes perform well when they compete in a weight class that is natural to their body. There is little reason to move a weight class unless you are looking to move into a more or less competitive space.
Using extreme methods to cut weight can be harmful for a fighter in both physical and mental aspects. If you are prone to disordered eating, have or have previously had an eating disorder then worrying about weight classes should not be something you do.
When I Should Consider a Change
If you are in between or on the edge of a weight class, it may be a good idea to speak with a qualified boxing or MMA coach. Grants MMA has the best MMA coaches in Toronto & North York. Gaining competitive insight through your coach can be ideal in knowing how to effectively choose a weight class that will be good for you.
If you are finding that you don’t feel good fighting at your current weight class or don’t feel like it is a good fit, you should possibly consider a change. Allow your coach to guide you in safely and sustainably cutting weight.
How Do MMA Fighters Cut Weight?
Professional MMA fighters sometimes go to extremes in order to cut weight. Many fighters choose to fight at a weight that is significantly below their natural body weight. Unlike recreational fighters, professional fighters face a lot of pressure to make weight and can even be penalized for not doing so. Currently UFC fighters can face a fine, become ineligible for championship status, lose out on fight bonuses or even be required to move up a weight class if they continually miss weight.
So how do MMA fighters cut weight? The answer to this question is different for each fighter but most have a method of cutting weight in order to make weight for their fights. Some of the strategies MMA fighters use to cut weight are listed below. Keep in mind that these methods are often extreme. Though some professional fighters may use these techniques they are not suggested and are not healthy.
- Taking diuretics
- Restricting calories
- Limiting water intake
- Working out in heat
There can be major consequences when a fighter uses extreme methods such as the methods mentioned above to cut weight. All of the above methods may leave a fighter weak and dehydrated. In some cases, fighters can even become ill after conducting extreme cutting techniques. All of these methods should be used with extreme caution or not done at all. Thankfully there are better ways to cut weight that will leave a fighter more healthy and better prepared to exert the energy required in the ring.
How Can I Cut Weight More Sustainably?
The best way to make weight is to plan long before you need to weigh in. Using extreme methods is a quick fix but it is not good for your body and may leave you less capable on the day of your fight. By working with a personal trainer or MMA coach to be close to your fighting weight before weighing in can help you achieve an easier and more sustainable weigh in.
Consider doing the following before a weight in in order to stay healthy while still making weight.
- Gradually reduce water intake
- Consider eating less carbs
- Eat nutritious meals full of protein and fat
- Avoid sugars and salt
Many fighters find that by staying close to their fighting weight helps them to live more sustainably. Though many professional fighters do go to extremes in order to make weight, it does not have to be the only way. Consider working with a personal trainer or coach who supports your desire to make weight in a healthy way. See our previous article “What Makes a Good Personal Trainer?” for tips on choosing the right person to work with.
Making weight can be stressful. But with planning and preparation you can make the process of making weight easier. Remember that if you are an amateur fighter there may be no need to worry about weight class at all. Speak with your coach and focus on health and fitness. You should find that your athletic performance improves when you feel your best.