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Mixed martial arts weight classes are weight classes that pertain to the sport of mixed martial arts.

Organizations will often adopt their own rules for weight limits, causing ambiguity in the sport regarding how a weight class should be defined. For a variety of reasons (largely historical), weight classes of the same name can be of vastly different weights. For example, a boxing Middleweight weighs up to 160 pounds, a UFC Middleweight is 185, and a Pride middleweight was 205.

Weight classes in the United StatesEdit

In 2000, the Unified Rules of Mixed Martial Arts were codified by the New Jersey State Athletic Commission – working with the California State Athletic Commission, who had worked extensively on regulation, but its sanctioning of MMA was not implemented due to state governmental issues surrounding the budgeting process.[1] California officially sanctioned MMA on December 28, 2005, using the ruleset it helped devise five years previously.[2]

Since then, to create uniformity in the United States, many state athletic commissions have assimilated these rules for mixed martial arts into their existing unarmed combat competition rules and statutes. For a promotion to hold mixed martial arts events in a state-sanctioned venue, the promotion must abide by the state athletic commission's body of rules for weight limits.

Weight classes under the Unified RulesEdit

The Nevada State Athletic Commission has designated limits for nine different weight classes in mixed martial arts. Fighters must be weighed in lb:[3]

Weight class nameUpper limit in lbEquivalent in kg
Flyweight 125 lb 57 kg
Bantamweight 135 lb 61 kg
Featherweight 145 lb 66 kg
Lightweight 155 lb 70 kg
Welterweight 170 lb 77 kg
Middleweight 185 lb 84 kg
Light Heavyweight 205 lb 93 kg
Heavyweight 265 lb 120 kg
Super Heavyweight No upper weight limit

Prior to state sanctioning, weight classes were not mandatory since the competitions were held without the approval of the athletic commissions. For instance, the Ultimate Fighting Championship introduced two weight classes at UFC 12: heavyweight, which grouped competitors above 200 lb (91 kg), and lightweight, which grouped competitors under 200 lb.

Weight divisions underwent many changes in the coming years, but the ability of promotions to autonomously decide their own weight classes eventually disappeared after athletic commissions began supervising mixed martial arts.

In July 2008, a change to the existing classes was proposed to the Association of Boxing Commissions to expand the weight classes to 14, with most classes 10 pounds apart and a division of the current 205-265lb heavyweight class into two. The proposals were met with resistance from various quarters, including from the UFC and several state athletic commissions.[4] The proposed classes were later rejected by the ABC.[5]

Non-codified states and exceptionsEdit

In the following states, MMA is legal but is not regulated by a local commission: Alabama, Alaska, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Montana, South Dakota, and Wyoming.[6]

The most notable of these states is Hawaii, whose lack of codified restrictions on mixed martial arts allows promotions to set their weight limits as they see fit. Hawaii's Rumble on the Rock has a welterweight champion at the unique weight of 175 lb (79.5 kg).

Promotions that hold events on Indian reservations are under the jurisdiction of independent athletic commissions such as the Mashantucket Pequot Athletic Commission or the Grand River Athletics Commission. Many of these commissions are under the umbrella of the Native American Sports Council. These commissions are generally regarded as having less than rigorous standards.

Weight classes in JapanEdit

With no state or government laws regarding weight class restrictions, Japanese organizations are free to schedule bouts with little regard for weight differential. However, due to the increasingly competitive nature of the sport, weight is often seen as an unfair advantage over a smaller competitor; therefore, weight limits have been set by the promotions themselves. These limits differ from organization to organization. Japan uses the metric system.

DreamEdit

Dream's weight categories go by similar guidelines as the Unified Rules, differing only by a few pounds.

Weight class name Upper limit in kg Equivalent in lb
Featherweight 63 kg 139 lb
Lightweight 70 kg 155 lb
Welterweight 76 kg 168 lb
Middleweight 84 kg 185 lb
Light Heavyweight 93 kg 205 lb
Heavyweight No weight limit

Pride Fighting ChampionshipsEdit

Pride arranged one weight category for every ten kilograms, starting at 73 kg (161 lb[7]) and ending at 93 kg (205 lb).

Weight class name Upper limit in kg Equivalent in lb
Lightweight 73 kg 161 lb
Welterweight 83 kg 183 lb
Middleweight 93 kg 205 lb
Heavyweight No weight limit

ShootoEdit

Weight class name Upper limit in kg Equivalent in lb
Strawweight 52 kg 114 lb
Bantamweight 56 kg 123 lb
Featherweight 60 kg 132 lb
Lightweight 65 kg 143 lb
Welterweight 70 kg 154 lb
Middleweight 76 kg 167 lb
Light Heavyweight 83 kg 183 lb
Cruiserweight 91 kg 200 lb
Heavyweight 100 kg 220 lb
Super Heavyweight Above 100 kg Above 220 lb

World Victory RoadEdit

As of January 31, 2008 World Victory Road's Sengoku changed their Weight Classes to the ones listed here, which are very similar to those of Dream.

Weight class name Upper limit in kg Equivalent in lb
Bantamweight 60 kg 132 lb
Featherweight 65 kg 143 lb
Lightweight 70 kg 154 lb
Welterweight 76 kg 167 lb
Middleweight 83 kg 183 lb
Light Heavyweight 93 kg 205 lb
Heavyweight Above 93 kg Above 205 lb

K-1 Hero'sEdit

K-1 Hero's established weight classes around the time of their first mixed martial arts tournament.[8]

Weight class name Upper limit in kg Equivalent in lb
Middleweight 70 kg 154 lb
Light Heavyweight 85 kg 187 lb

Weight classes in the United KingdomEdit

There is currently no Board of Control governing MMA in the UK and promotions can set weight classes as they see fit.

Cage RageEdit

Cage Rage weighs fighters using the metric system. Weight classes are in line with the Unified Rules of MMA.

Weight class nameUpper limit in kgEquivalent in lb
Featherweight 66 kg 145 lb
Lightweight 70 kg 155 lb
Welterweight 77 kg 170 lb
Middleweight 84 kg 185 lb
Light Heavyweight 93 kg 205 lb
Heavyweight No weight limit

Notes and referencesEdit

  1. New Jersey Commission Corrects Mainstream UFC Stories. Ivan's Blog, formerly posted on MMAWeekly.com. Retrieved December 5, 2006.
  2. California Legalizes MMA Events. martialarts.about.com. Retrieved December 5, 2006.
  3. Nevada Administrative Code: Chapter 467 – Unarmed Combat. Retrieved December 9, 2006.
  4. MMAJunkie.com, MMaJunkie.com
  5. [1]
  6. States for Kickboxing or MMA. IKF website. Retrieved October 24, 2006.
  7. Often rounded down to 160 lb in mixed martial arts media circles.
  8. Hero's: Newton Out, Rounds Finalized. Jordan Breen, from Sherdog.com. Retrieved December 9, 2006.

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