Everything you need to know about the middleweight division in MMA.
Ever since the formal professionalization of boxing, weight classes have been a crucial component of combat sports. MMA is no exception to the rule, and although the sport laid its foundations in openweight tournaments, it has for a while now adopted the same style of size parameters as boxing. This not only allows MMA to be seen as a more legitimate sport and not just glorified violence but it also allows the thousands of MMA practitioners to focus on a single weight class where they can rise to the top and become champions.
While it’s not difficult to find that heavyweights tend to grab the most headlines given their sheer size, the middleweight division has a case for being one of MMA’s best weight classes since its inception.
Athletes who chose to fight in this division must make the maximum of 186 pounds, 185 if the fight is for the belt. The minimum boundary for the weight class is 171 pounds, although it would be almost impossible to find anybody weighing below 183 pounds and competing in this weight class. Despite not being nearly as large as their heavyweight peers, and a whole 20 pounds lighter than light heavyweights, the middleweight division has long entertained and kept fans glued to their screens whenever the top contenders would face each other.
The reason for such popularity is that the athletes who have held the 185-pound belt belong in the list of most exciting fighters to ever compete. The UFC’s middleweight king is non-other than Anderson Silva, a man who is not only in the GOAT conversation but is arguably the most electrifying competitor to ever step foot into the Octagon. He not only wowed us with his unpredictable style but often ridiculously finished fights.
His knockout win over Vitor Belfort is up there as the greatest finish in MMA history. Silva would go on to win 11 title fights, which include 10 title defenses in a row, the second most all-time under the UFC banner. Silva’s downfall, which culminated in one the biggest shocks in UFC history when he was knocked out cold by Chris Weidman to lose the belt, eventually led to another exhilarating champion in Israel Adesanya.
Although he recently lost the belt following five straight title defenses, Adesanya has proven to be one of the UFC’s biggest stars in the last half a decade, regularly main-eventing at least two shows per year.
The current champion is Adesanya’s greatest rival, Alex Pereira. Despite not having lots of MMA experience, the former kickboxing world champion transitioned into MMA and beat his adversary for a third time overall and for the first time using the MMA ruleset, knocking him out in the last round of their encounter at UFC 281 following two victories in kickboxing over Adesanya. Thankfully, the two will meet for a fifth time, the second in the UFC, at UFC 287 in April to finally cement their rivalry and see who walks away with the middleweight title.
Whether it is names of the past such as Silva or the names current fans are all too aware of, middleweight has long proven to be one of the toughest divisions for anyone to step into, and it is why fans are always alert whenever two top 185-pounders are set to square off. It always delivers.