What does atomweight mean?

UFC Fight Night Smith v Teixeira
UFC Fight Night Smith v Teixeira / Douglas P. DeFelice/GettyImages

What is the MMA weight class atomweight?

Throughout the relatively short history of MMA, perhaps no single aspect has had as much of an impact on the sport as the introduction of weight classes. What was once a spectacle where anybody could face anybody during one-night-only tournaments, the inclusion of weight divisions allowed the sport to become more professional to the outside world and also encouraged more athletes to test the MMA waters.

They no longer had to worry about facing opponents that outweigh them by over 100 pounds and could focus on making a specific weight to strive for greatness. The newest addition to the list of MMA weight classes has been the introduction of atomweight, the lightest division that is widely recognized by MMA promotions. The upper limit for the weight class is 105 pounds and due to the low weight that fighters have to carry if they wish to compete in the division, it is one that has mostly been reserved for women’s MMA. 

Despite the division’s popularity across Asia, there are actually very few of MMA’s leading promotions that even have the atomweight division as they fail to find the top-level talent, and fighters overall, needed to establish the weight class. The UFC, Bellator MMA, KSW, and Cage Warriors are just a few of the world’s leading MMA promotions to not offer athletes the possibility to fight at 105 pounds.

ONE Championship might call their weight class ‘atomweight’ but when looking at the weight limits, you’d actually find that their atomweight class uses the same parameters as strawweights all around the world do. That leaves very few promotions that fans can tune into it if they wish to watch competitive, high-level atomweights go at each other. 

One of those is Rizin Fighting Federation, where the best super atomweight in the world competes. Despite being only nine fights into her MMA career, Seika Izawa is turning many heads with her elite jiu-jitsu as well as a ground game that would leave any opponent exhausted. Her dominant run through the 2022 Rizin super atomweight grand prix was almost scary to watch given how easily she managed to dispatch opponents with much more experience than the 25-year-old. 

She is currently Rizin’s super atomweight champion as well as Deep Jewels strawweight queen, and while a spot in the UFC roster might never come due to her size, don’t sleep on the talent that she is and can become. They might not be nearly as popular as heavyweights, and may never become mainstream, yet atomweight will continue to hold a special place in MMA and seems to be on the rise. Just because the UFC isn’t doing it does not mean that no one else should. 

dark. Next. How much do MMA fighters make?