Why Do MMA Fighters Cut Weight? Top 10 Reasons

Cutting weight is an essential part of Mixed Martial Arts. Since weight classes were established, it has become a common practice for fighters to cut weight to compete in specific weight classes. There are many reasons why MMA fighters cut weight. Here are the top ten:

To Make Weight Classes

The most obvious reason for cutting weight is to ensure that a fighter can compete in their desired weight class. There are a variety of different weight classes in MMA. Weight classes range from flyweight all the way up to heavyweight. Most fighters will want to compete in the weight class they naturally fit into, but sometimes that’s impossible.

Making weight can be the difference between a fighter being able to compete and not being able to compete. For example, if a fighter initially weighs in at 185 pounds, but their desired weight class is 170 pounds, they will need to cut weight to make that happen.

To Gain An Advantage

Another common reason MMA fighters cut weight is to gain an advantage over their opponents. Many times, fighters will cut weight to compete in a lower weight class than their opponent.

This can be a significant advantage because the fighter cutting weight typically has a size and strength advantage over their opponent. This can give them a significant advantage in the fight.

For example, a fighter who naturally walks around at 200 lbs and cuts down to 170 lbs to fight a guy who walks around at 185 lbs and cuts down to 170 lbs will have a significant size advantage.

To Be Quicker

Speed is an essential aspect of MMA. Fighters who can move around the ring quickly and efficiently tend to be successful. Cutting weight can help a fighter become quicker on their feet because they will have less weight to carry around.

This can be a significant advantage, especially in the lower weight classes where fighters focus on speed, technique, and volume over power.

In general, cutting weight can help a fighter improve their performance. When a fighter has less weight to carry around, they will be able to move more quickly and efficiently, leading to better performance in the ring.

To Improve Their Physique

Many MMA fighters cut weight so that they can improve their physique. A fighter’s physique can play a significant role in their success.

Many times, fighters will want to cut weight so they can look more shredded and defined. This can help them look more intimidating to their opponents and can also give them a boost of confidence. Being shredded also helps with building a reputation with fans and media.

A better physique can also help a fighter perform better. When a fighter is in better shape, they will have more energy and endurance, leading to improved performance in the ring. If they have yet to cut too much weight, which can be exhausting, they can put on a better show for the fans.

To Have A Reach Advantage

A fighter’s reach is an essential aspect of their game. A longer reach can be a significant advantage in a fight because it allows a fighter to keep their opponents at a distance where they can’t do any damage.

Fighters cutting weight sometimes do so to have a reach advantage over their opponents. For example, if a fighter weighs 200 lbs but is only 5’9″, they will have a shorter reach than a fighter who weighs 200 lbs and is 6’1″.

Therefore the 5’9” 200 lbs fighter may want to cut weight so that they can compete in the 185 lbs weight class and have a reach advantage over their opponents.

Power-To-Weight Ratio

When a fighter cuts weight, they typically try to improve their power-to-weight ratio. This is the amount of power a fighter can generate about their body weight.

Improving this ratio can be a significant advantage for a fighter because it means that they can generate more power per pound of body weight. This can be helpful in a fight because it will allow the fighter to hit harder, throw more powerful strikes and takedowns, and be a more formidable opponent.

To Be Heavier Than The Opponent

This is only viable in pro fights, but some fighters may cut weight to be the heavier fighter. This can be a significant advantage because it puts the other fighter at a physical disadvantage.

Since there is a one-day difference between the weigh-ins and the fight night (as in the UFC, for example), a fighter has ample time to rehydrate and add extra weight. This can give them a size advantage over their opponent, which can be very beneficial in a fight.

This option is only viable for amateur fights if the weigh-in is on the same day as the fight. Also, fighters should not have extreme amounts of weight since they need more time to rehydrate properly. Going dehydrated into a fight can be very dangerous and should be avoided.

For example, suppose two fighters compete in the same weight class; one cuts a lot of weight and is significantly leaner than the other. In that case, they will have an advantage when they finally rehydrate and step on the scale on fight night. 

This is because they will be heavier than their opponent, who hasn’t cut weight, and they may have an advantage in terms of strength and power.

Don’t Want To Stick To A Diet All The Time 

Some fighters may choose to cut weight to not have to stick to a strict diet all the time. This could be beneficial for those who prefer to avoid following a diet or are prone to cheating. 

Sticking to a strict diet all the time can lead to burnout and subpar performance. So cutting weight once in a while can benefit fighters who don’t want to adhere to their diets.

It would also be easier to keep the same level of leanness and fitness required for competition if you cut weight at least once in a while. For example, Paddy Pimblet, a lightweight fighter in the UFC, cuts about 40 pounds for his fights. So it would be impossible for him to stay at that level of leanness all year round. 

Having the ability to cut weight and not stick to a strict diet all the time can be beneficial for fighters who want to maintain their fitness but want to commit themselves only partially to a diet. 

By cutting some weight, they can get into the weight class they want and then maintain their weight with a less restrictive diet. They can still stay in shape and train hard while having some freedom with their food choices.

To Compete In Two Weight Divisions

A fighter may cut weight to compete in two different weight divisions. There have been more and more examples of fighters competing in multiple weight classes. The most famous examples are Conor McGregor and Henry Cejudo. 

Cutting weight can benefit these fighters by allowing them to compete at different weights. They can put themselves at an advantage over their opponents. For example, cutting down to a lower weight class can give them more speed and agility, which can be beneficial in certain matchups.

Champions of various weight classes. Cutting weight and competing in multiple weight classes can give fighters more opportunities. It can help them achieve their goals of becoming. This may also allow them to compete for two world titles, which can be a significant accomplishment.

To Respect The Tradition

Some fighters may choose to cut weight to show respect for the sport and its traditions. They may want to show that they are willing to make the same sacrifices as their predecessors to compete at the highest level. This could also show respect and appreciation for the fighters who have come before them.

Weight cutting was introduced to mixed martial arts many years ago and has since become a part of its tradition. Thus, some see cutting weight as an essential rite of passage for fighters in MMA, and they may choose to do it out of respect for the sport’s history.

Some fighters may simply do it because they enjoy the challenge, and it forces them to push themselves outside of their comfort zone. Plenty of fighters have said that cutting weight is the hardest part of their career, but it’s also one of the most rewarding.

Whatever the reason, cutting weight is an essential part of MMA and a way for fighters to show respect and appreciation for the sport. 


Cutting weight is a common practice among fighters and can be beneficial if done correctly. There are a variety of reasons why fighters choose to cut weight. Reasons include gaining an advantage over their opponents, not wanting to stick to a strict diet, or being able to compete in two different weight divisions. 

Cutting weight can be an excellent way for fighters to gain advantages over opponents. Still, it is vital to do so responsibly. They must ensure they are not at risk of injury or other health problems.

Gregori Povolotski

I have been practicing martial arts since 2007. For as long as I can remember, I have always had a huge passion for combat sports, especially Muay Thai and boxing. Helping people on their martial arts journey is what drives me to keep training and learn new things. Read More About Me

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