As much as the UFC would love to be the end all and be all for MMA, fans will always appreciate some variety in the sport. Without question, the UFC is the biggest and best out there. As such, the promotion houses nearly every top-10 fighter in every weight class, but that does not mean there are no alternatives.

Although the other promotions will likely never be able to build a roster as complete and deep as the UFC’s roster, they can carve out their niches in the game on a divisional basis. Many promotions have taken that approach.

With all of the great non-UFC MMA action available, where do fans go to watch the best competition at every weight class in the men’s divisions? Let’s find out…

Strawweight – 115 pounds

The UFC is not home to the strawweight division yet, making it the only weight class for which fight fans have to venture outside of the UFC to watch even at its highest levels. UFC President Dana White has stated interest in bringing the division to the UFC, but the weight class is not yet developed enough as far as talent goes. If you love watching the non-stop action and excitement of the tiny guys, there are two solid options in Shooto and Pancrase. Although Pancrase has some great talent, the better of the two is Shooto. Featuring fighters like Shinya Murofushi, Yoshitaka Naito and Junji Ito, the promotion has plenty of high-octane, fast-paced entertainment.

Flyweight – 125 pounds

Much like the heavyweight division that we will look at later, the flyweight division is very thin as far as depth of talent goes here in the United States. Overseas, however, there is an exciting talent pool of fighters and promotions to look to for high-level flyweight combat. Fans of the flyweight division have two solid options in Shooto and ONE FC. The latter is the best of the pair. ONE FC boasts a talented roster featuring the likes of Adriano Moraes, Andrew Leone and Yasuhiro Urushitani.

Bantamweight – 135 pounds

If you are a true fan of the bantamweight class and you are looking for a good talent pool and great action, look no further than Bellator. Utilizing an exciting tournament format to grant title shots only adds to the excitement the promotion’s bantamweight division provides. With champion Eduardo Dantas and contenders like Brandon Bender, Marcos Galvao and Joe Warren, Bellator’s bantamweight division is about as stacked a division as there is outside of the UFC.

Featherweight – 145 pounds

For fans looking for great featherweight action, Bellator is again where it’s at. Bellator’s featherweight division is currently home to two of the division’s best in Bellator champion Pat Curran and Patricio Freire. The roster also features former champion Daniel Straus and rising contenders Daniel Weichel and Magomedrasul Khasbulaev. Bellator is quickly becoming the new WEC with all of the lighter-weight talent the promotion has attracted and developed through its tournaments.

Lightweight – 155 pounds

Driving home the WEC comparison is the fact that Bellator is also where fight fans should look for top-of-the-line lightweight competition outside of the UFC. Bellator champion Eddie Alvarez has long been considered one of the best in the world at lightweight, and Michael Chandler is right there in the conversation as well. Add Will Brooks and Patricky Freire, and the division is loaded with exciting talent.

Welterweight – 170 pounds

As far as welterweights go, fight fans have a little more variety than most other weight classes. Bellator has a strong division and ONE FC made a real splash by signing Ben Askren. However, if forced to choose who has the best offering of talent, the answer is the World Series of Fighting. Newly crowned champion Rousimar Palhares is a dangerous leg-lock specialist. Mix in fighters like former champ Steve Carl, UFC veterans Josh Burkman and Jon Fitch and the newly signed Jake Shields, and you have one of the most talent-rich divisions outside of the UFC.

Middleweight – 185 pounds

Whereas the options seem to be plentiful at welterweight, looking for elite middleweight competition is much more difficult. The World Series of Fighting is worthy of mention and Bellator has a pretty good roster. But for the best action outside of the UFC, take a look at KSW. The Polish promotion has two elite middleweights on its roster in champion Michal Materla and Sengoku veteran Mamed Khalidov. Bellator may have a roster that is a little deeper, but KSW provides great action in the division.

Light Heavyweight – 205 pounds

As far as an abundance of talent goes, light heavyweight is right there with the welterweight division as one of the most talent-rich divisions in all of MMA. For fight fans looking for top-tier action outside of the UFC, Bellator is the place to look. Champion Emanuel Newton is very good, and with names like Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal, Christian M’Pumbu, Attila Vegh and Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, the promotion is loaded with talent. Granted, none of these guys are young up-and-comers, but they do put on exciting and entertaining fights.

Heavyweight – 265 pounds

The heavyweight division has long been the black hole of MMA. In other words, it is the most difficult division in which to consistently find high-level talent. Generally, big guys who are athletically gifted gravitate towards more mainstream athletics, leaving the division thin. If fight fans want to see good heavyweight action outside of the UFC, the only place to really go is Bellator. Bellator has a nice collection of young talent mixed in with well-known veterans. Champion Vitaly Minakov is a solid competitor, as shown by his recent victory over former UFC mainstay Cheick Kongo.

About The Author

RJ Gardner
Content Coordinator

RJ Gardner is a rabid sports fan and a long time MMA enthusiast. After watching UFC 1 at ripe old age of 11 RJ was hooked and his passion for the sport has continued to blossom over the years. RJ has been covering MMA since 2007 and has had work featured on Bleacher Report, SI.com, CBSSports.com and UFC.com. RJ is also a Petroleum Transportation Operations Manager during the day.

  • Dickhurtz

    Ronda rousey has a mole on the right side of her cheek that broke away from the ufc . It’s in the 155 lb div in bellator and to the best of my knowledge is unbeaten and without a miracle, there is nobody capable of beating this vicious mole of hers. Ronda’s mole will hold the belt a long time and break many records for years to come. It is unbelieavable and indistructable and a pure fenom with great cardio and bjj. Go mole go!!