Hacking the Tale of the Tape: How Big is the Average UFC Fighter?



Wondering if you’re “big” or just “average?”  Just how big is average for a UFC fighter? Well that depends on the weight class obviously. Here’s the current UFC roster of fighters put into divisions with average (mean) height and reach. Next time someone says a fighter looks big for their weight class, check the facts first.

 average height and reach of UFC fighters by weight class

Mean averages based on UFC Roster as of June, 2013.

The range of UFC divisions spans 140 pounds, which on average translates into about one foot of additional height and reach from the Flyweights to the Heavyweights.

It’s important to note there is plenty of variability that occurs with in each weight class. Some bodies are tall and lean while others are short and stocky. And the larger the division is, the wider the range of maximums and minimums. Just think of heavyweights Stephan Struve and Pat Barry facing off with over a one foot height differential in the same weight class. Conversely, it’s unusual to see a large size discrepancy at featherweight.

It’s also interesting that the average size of each weight class has been increasing in recent years. If we were to go back to 2005 or so, what we would see is the average height and reach being lower in all divisions. This is due to the highly competitive evolution of modern MMA, which has driven fighters to pack more athleticism into a leaner body. The result is that numerous fighters drop weight classes to remain optimally competitive, finding ways to optimize their bodies for fighting. Fighter Kenny Florian set the record by competing in four different weight classes, and he’s illustrative of how average fighter size has changed through the years. The importance of reach is detailed extensively in Chapter 6 of the Fightnomics book, so check it out for much more detail including a complete quantification of the reach advantage.

And look at the new women’s division. At Bantamweight there’s a discernible difference in size between male and female fighters weighing in at the same weight limit. The men’s division has been around a lot longer and has greater competition from a large pool of contenders, who are experienced pros at cutting weight. And despite their larger frames, they manage to pack more muscle and size onto the scale on weigh-in day. Competition always pushes the limits of human anthropometrics. Gamblers too are keen to these trends. Analysis of basic body types is critical in pre-fight assessments, and UFC betting sites frequently account for these factors in making their predictions.

According to the CDC the average American male stands just over 5′ 9″ and walks around at 195 pounds. That means the average American has the height of a lightweight, but is 40 pounds too heavy for their division. Just keep in mind that the UFC averages are based on weigh-in weights, and that the vast majority of fighters walk around ~20 pounds heavier than at weigh-ins. So when comparing yourself to these divisions find your height first then add at least 10 pounds for the small divisions, 20 pounds or more for the middle divisions, and 30 pounds or more for the largest ones. That ought to give you a more realistic view of the natural size of these athletes. But also remember that these are professional fighters, and in no way does that mean what’s “good” for them is what anyone else should aspire to. The most extreme edges of competition breed a few unhealthy habits.

So how do the up and coming fighters out there measure up? Are you a lightweight that eats like a middleweight? Or are you framed like a welterweight who could make a weigh in at bantamweight?


“Fightnomics” the book is now available! See the Book page of this website for the latest links to different versions the book, and follow along on Twitter for the latest stats and analysis.



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  1. pon says:

    define small medium and large divisions plz?

    • Reed Kuhn says:

      Not official, mind you, but larger would be heavyweight and light heavyweight. Medium is middleweight and welterweight. And smaller is lightweight and below (the divisions that didn’t exist before 2007). Just my own categories. The defined pound-limits for various weight classes actually fluctuated quite a bit before reaching stability in the mid-2000′s.

  2. James says:

    Thanks for posting this information. I’ve been training (nothing intense) for about 8 months and was wondering where I would fit in stats wise. I’m a few hairs shy of 6′ tall, 74in reach. Walk around about 160 but feel I could easily reach 135 as I eat anything and everything and lots of it.

    • Reed Kuhn says:

      You have the same measurements as me, James. I’m 6 feet, with a long 74-75 inch reach – which is a favorable ratio. And when I competed in Tae Kwon Do I could have made 135 lbs had I cut just a few pounds sweating. I think I was at 136 after practice one day. So you’re a tall lean guy, and having that range would give you a big striking advantage in MMA.

      • Oscar Garcia says:

        Please don’t try cutting down to 135, lol… you guys would literally look like walking skeletons. I’m 5’10 (71″ reach) and I think I could barely make 155 if my diet was on point… I’d probably feel more comfortable at Welterweight since it’s closer to my natural weight but i’d be kind of small for that division.

  3. Felipe Medeiros says:

    thats insane.. I weigh 130 lbs and have 70.86 inches of reach .. If I got into to the 125 lbs category , the average reach of my opponets would be 65.5.. which means I would have on average 5 inches advantage over my average opponent? Is that right? I’ll get into boxing


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