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CagePotato Databomb #11: How Big is the Average UFC Fighter?


(Click on the chart for the full size version. For previous Databombs, click here.)

By Reed Kuhn, @Fightnomics

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 (mean averages based on UFC Roster as of June, 2013). Next time someone says a fighter is “big for their weight class,” check the facts first.

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. Bodies are tall and lean or sometimes short and stocky. And the larger the division is, the wider the range of maximums and minimums. Just think of heavyweights Stefan Struve and Pat Barry facing off with over a one foot height differential in the same weight class.

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 numerous fighters dropping weight classes to remain optimally competitive, and finding ways to optimize their bodies for fighting.

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.

So how do you measure up? Are you a lightweight that eats like a middleweight? Or are you a welterweight in the frame of a bantamweight?

For more on the science and stats of MMA, follow @Fightnomics on Twitter and on Facebook. See more MMA analytical research at www.fightnomics.com

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Jolie A.- June 8, 2013 at 4:42 am
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Dagnut- June 7, 2013 at 5:24 am
Few LHW fighters should be fighting MW..Shogun, Machida,Rashad evans...could all make 185 easily. Shogun especially he carries a lot of body fat around
Thumblaster- June 6, 2013 at 6:26 pm
I'm a french model, bonjour.
macreadysshack- June 6, 2013 at 1:28 pm
Does this article make my butt look big?
macreadysshack- June 6, 2013 at 1:26 pm
Im exactly the listed middleweight spec but make welterweight easily when im training hard. 182 is an easy cut to '70 for me. Of course, I happen to be 215 right now lotsa muscle but way too much fat. If i kicked it in gear id be 185 in six or eight weeks. I dont know why but fat just falls off me when i get after it. Makes me feel like a shit-heel for being 215 right now. Just no excuse for it.
macreadysshack- June 6, 2013 at 1:22 pm
JC is dead on about Randy. When i met him at Quest (never got to train with him!) he was closer to 6'. I think many of the heights listed are accurate but many others are exaggerated. Its really too bad that they do that. Anybody who loses respect for Randy because he's just a hair over 6' is an idiot.
anderson wanderlei paulo thiago alves silva- June 6, 2013 at 1:08 pm
I'm 55 and 140 pounds
JC- June 6, 2013 at 12:43 pm
The UFC adds about 2 inches in height to every fighter on its roster.
I have met about 3 dozen fighters in person, and in almost all cases they are shorter than advertised.
Safe to assume reach is exaggerated, too.
The fight biz is sports entertainment, its all about hype and making the stars seem larger than life, as if they really are all super human beings.
Randy Couture is the best example: routinely listed at 6'2", he is clearly closer to 6'0", if that. I could list dozens more.
WalksInTheDarkness- June 6, 2013 at 10:25 am
Me and my welterweight frame need to quit eatting like a heavyweight! That said, reminds me of that article about the size comparison between Roy Nelson and Dan Hardy.
coolsnow7- June 6, 2013 at 9:56 am
Blackbox: if you have that data set, there are many people who would pay good money to use it...
danomite- June 6, 2013 at 9:02 am
it's too bad the data used for this is almost complete bullshit. I don't know how they measure this stuff, if it's on the honor system or what, but the height and reach stats are wildly inaccurate. If you need proof, watch 5'4" scott Jorgensen be taller than 5'6" Urijah Faber in their fight or check out that time Shane Carwin went from 6'1" to 6'5" when he fought Brock.
DiscoStu- June 6, 2013 at 9:16 am
Don't you mean the tale of the tape they show on TV is inaccurate? I would assume this analysis wasn't done by watching TV.
danomite- June 6, 2013 at 8:54 am
yeah, but what about average length and gir...I mean, um...nevermind.
RearNakedSpoon- June 6, 2013 at 8:50 am
Top 3 disadvantaged champs - Cain, GSP, Aldo.
Top 3 advantaged champs - Jones, Silva, Johnson.

Only surprise is Aldo, always assumed he was big for FW? Pettis has a serious size advantage for that fight...
blackboxmma- June 6, 2013 at 8:47 am
what about walk around weight pre fight camp?
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