This graph shows when each weight category was introduced and how competitive they were.
Historical view of Weight Categories from 1993 – 2013
1.) From 1993 to 1996 there were no official weight categories (except in Shooto).
That is why we divided all fighters into two divisions:
- Open Weight (265)
- Light Weight (170)
Before last quarter of 1993, only MMA promotion was Shooto. They had mostly Light Weight fighters.
2.) LHW (205 lb) was introduced at the end of 1996.
Fighters that were in Open Weight were devided between 265 and 205 at Q4 of 1966. On the graph you can see that value of 265 dropped because of that split.
UFC introduced LHW at UFC 12 (Feb 1997) as Lightweight (200+ lb), renamed Middleweight at UFC 16, then Light Heavyweight at UFC 31 and limit changed from 200 to 205 lbs.
3.) UFC introduced WW at UFC 16 (Mar 1998) as Lightweight and then renamed Welterweight at UFC 31.
4.) We introduced 155 weight category at the end of 1998. LW was introduced by UFC at UFC 22 (Sep 1999) as Bantamweight; renamed Lightweight at UFC 31 and limit changed from 150 to 155 lbs.
5.) In 2000 New Jersey SACB develops Unified Rules which were then adopted in Nevada.
When in January 2001 SEG sold the UFC, Zuffa adopted Unified Rules of Mixed Martial Arts Combat and Categories were defined in UFC.
6.) We introduced MW (185 lb) in the middle of 2000. MW was introduced in UFC at UFC 31 (May 2001). Pancrase had first MW champion in September 2000.
Many fighters started switching from LHW to MW and LHW became little bit less competitive. But it was still the best division until 2006.
7.) FW, BW and FLY were introduced just recently in UFC, but they existed in other organizations (Shooto, WEC, KOTC) before UFC.
WW and LW have the most fighters and are the most competitive.
That is to be expected because most people (male) are in that range 5’9 – 5’11.
Historical view of Female MMA Weight Categories
Here is a short explanation on how each division was introduced.
1) We started in 2000 because that was first big Female event happened. ReMix - World Cup 2000 was female equivalent of UFC1. After 3 wins in one day Marloes Coenen was crowned the Open Weight champion. Until mid 2002, there were very few good female fighters and they were all grouped into Open Weight (155).
2.) In 2002 we separated Female fighters two divisions:
• Open Weight (155)
• Light Weight (125)
Smackgirl promotion crowned their first 125 lb champion in Dec 2002.
3.) In 2004 Smackgirl had first 145 champion and we that is when we created 145 lb division. 155 is still open weight division, but is having less and less significant fighters.
4.) In 2005 we have new 115 lb champions in Smackgirl and DEEp.
5.) 135 lb division didn't have any consistent participation until end of 2004. That is when we dropped 15 fighters from 145 and few from 125 to have a group of about 20 ranked fighters at 135.