What Does Bantamweight Actually Mean?

Naoya Inoue, Emmanuel Rodriguez
What does bantamweight mean? What does a bantamweight weight? Let 12uppercut & Naoya Inoue explain. | Mark Runnacles/Getty Images

Weight classes exist for a reason. It's the first great structural element meant to ensure fighters of a similar athletic bent can face off against each other without too much unnecessary safety risk or athletic imbalance. But while "heavyweight," "middleweight," and "lightweight" all make sense even to the layperson, what exactly do some of those fancier names for these weight divisions mean? Let us explore what the origins of one of these weight classes: bantamweight.

What Does the 'Bantam' in Bantamweight Mean?

Much like welterweight, bantamweight is a weight classification whose name doesn't obviously speak for itself. The intention of the words "bantam" would most likely lean towards Merriam-Webster's primary noun definition, "a person of diminutive stature and often combative disposition."

Looking a little deeper, we also must consider Webster's secondary definition of bantam, via a Javanese etymology: "any of numerous small domestic fowls that are often miniatures of members of the standard breeds."

Yes, that means we might also call bantamweight chickenweight. Or roosterweight, if you like.

How Much is Bantamweight's UFC and MMA Limit?

The bantamweights in MMA are much larger compared to their boxing counterparts. Bantamweight regulations according the the unified MMA rules set a limit of 135 pounds. King of the Cage allows a weight up to 145 pounds for their bantamweight division. The reigning champ in the UFC bantamweight division is Henry Cejudo, with legends of the sport like Dominick Cruz and Renan Barao among those who also held the title for notable runs.

How Much is Bantamweight's Boxing Limit?

Notably, the bantamweight division in boxing compared to the MMA is significantly lighter, with fighters only weighing a maximum of 118 pounds. Legendary boxers such as Shinsuke Yamanaka, Carlos Zarate (who amassed an incredible 63 KO wins), and Eder Jofre all left their mark in the history of the weight class. Currently, Naoya Inoue is surely the baddest man in the class, and ranks in the top 10 of 12uppercut's Universal Pound for Pound Rankings.