Destroy Your Competition: Pick the Best Weight Class in MMA

What MMA weight class should you fight in?

Weight classes in combat sports have existed for century’s, dating back to the first code of boxing rules in the 17th century.

Having weight classes in combat sports takes away the advantage of weight, ensuring the contest will be evenly matched. The outcome of the fight is determined by technique and conditioning, rather than size & brute strength.

There is a lot of misinformation surrounding weight classes for MMA and what weight class you should compete in. As you will see throughout this post, several factors should be considered to make sure your competitive and safe in your MMA weight class.


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Weight Classes in MMA

As there is no governing body in MMA, individual organisations are free to decide their weight classifications. Most organisations have adopted the UFC weight divisions, as they are the largest and most established MMA organisation.

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How to pick the right weight class for MMA?

When deciding what weight class to compete in, there are several factors to consider. I have fought in three different weight classes, ranging from lightweight to middleweight.

Early in your MMA career, you should consider experimenting with different weight classes to find your sweet spot, where your performance is best.

Same Day VS Day Before Weigh In

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Professional fighters have the luxury of weighing in a day before the fight, whereas amateurs usually step on the scales hours before a contest.

Weight-cutting consists of dehydrating the body to make weight for a fight. Although this enables you to compete in a lower weight class, your body needs sufficient time to rehydrate to perform effectively.

As Professional fighters can cut weight the day before the fight, they will generally fight a weight class below amateur fighters of equal size.

Punching Power

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Punching power comes down to a combination of mass, speed and technique.

In general, the heavier the fighter, the more powerful their strikes are. A heavyweight fighter will put more mass into their punches than a lightweight, but not necessarily have less speed.

As a fundamental rule, lighter fighters are faster, whilst fighters in the heavier divisions have move powerful strikes.

Body Composition

Most successful MMA fighters have a relatively lean composition, with professionals usually weighing in around 8-12% bodyfat.

Low body fat has a positive effect on cardiovascular & muscular endurance, speed, and agility.

More excess bodyweight = More dead weight

If you have a high body fat composition and are considered overweight, you should lose weight and compete in a lower weight class to increase athletic performance.

Height Of MMA Fighters

The average height of an MMA fighter increases relative to the weight class they compete in.

The diversity in MMA means that specific builds are advantageous in different areas. A short and stocky wrestler can be a rangy strikers kryptonite!

You shouldn’t determine your MMA weight class purely based on height.

What Weight Class Should You Fight At?

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Many fighters make the mistake of believing the lighter you are the better, but this isn’t always the case!

There’s loads to think about when deciding your weight class for MMA. Fighting style, height, body composition and the day of the weigh-in should all be considered.

For your first MMA fight, you should fight close to your healthy natural weight.

It’s all trial and error, try competing in different weight classes to find where you feel the best.

If you do need to move weight classes, change your diet and training accordingly.

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Gareth Davies

I'm a martial arts competitor and enthusiast. Over the last 15 years, I have trained and competed in several martial arts. I live in Manchester U.K working as a strength & conditioning coach when I'm not travelling and exploring martial arts around the world.
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