Beyond the Size

Short but Mighty: The Most Successful Shortest Fighters in UFC History

Introduction to UFC and Shortest Fighters

Mixed martial arts (MMA) have come a long way since the formation of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) in 1993. UFC has become one of the most popular and lucrative professional sports brands in the world.

Fighters from all around the world come to show their martial arts skills and climb the ranks in the hope of becoming champions. Despite the variety of sizes, weights, and styles of fighters, there is no denying that size plays a role in determining the outcome of a fight.

However, there are some fighters who have proven that size isn’t everything. In this article, we will look at a few of the shortest UFC fighters and learn how they have managed to be successful in a sport dominated by larger opponents.

Significance of Height in UFC

Physical advantages such as height, weight, and reach are often crucial factors in MMA. Fighters want to maximize any edge they can get in the ring while minimizing any possible disadvantage.

Height plays a significant role in determining the weight divisions that fighters compete in. For example, Flyweight division MMA fighters have a weight limit of 125 lbs.

The Bantamweight division has a weight limit of 135 lbs. This means that the difference between a flyweight fighter and a bantamweight fighter is just 10 pounds, which is almost negligible.

However, what makes all the difference in this scenario is height. Fighters taller than 5′ 4″ would find it challenging to compete as a flyweight, and fighters shorter than 5′ 6″ would struggle to get to the bantamweight limit.

List of Shortest UFC Fighters

Hector Sandoval

Hector Sandoval is the shortest fighter in UFC history, standing at a height of 5′ 2″ (157 cm). Born to Mexican-American parents, Sandoval started his MMA career fighting for the Palace Fighting Championship.

With a record of 7-2, Sandoval caught the attention of the UFC in 2016 and joined the roster. In his MMA career, Sandoval has knocked out 3 of his 14 opponents and won six fights by decision.

He has faced some of the toughest fighters in the UFC, such as Dustin Ortiz, but has always given his opponents a tough fight.

Fredy Serrano

Fredy Serrano is the second-shortest UFC fighter, standing at a height of 5′ 3″ (160 cm). Similar to Hector Sandoval, Serrano is of Colombian heritage and started his MMA career fighting for several South American organizations before joining the UFC.

Serrano is a former Olympic wrestler, and his grappling skills have helped him win four of his seven fights by knockout.

Demetrious Johnson

Demetrious Johnson stands at a height of 5′ 3″ (160 cm) and is one of the greatest UFC fighters of all time. Johnson has defended his flyweight championship title a record number of times and holds a professional MMA record of 30-3-1.

He is known for his quick movement, controlled grappling skills, and knockout power.

John Dodson

John Dodson is another UFC flyweight fighter who stands at a height of 5′ 3″ (160 cm). Known for his quick footwork and devastating punches, Dodson has won 12 of his 22 fights by knockout.

He has also fought in the bantamweight division, where he has had some mixed success.

Antonio Banuelos

Antonio Banuelos stands at a height of 5′ 3″ (160 cm) and is a former King of the Cage bantamweight champion. Banuelos has fought for some of the biggest MMA organizations, including the UFC, Strikeforce, and WEC.

Banuelos is known for his fast-paced fighting style and striking power.

Height Disadvantage and Weight Allowance Speculation

Despite the achievements of these shorter UFC fighters, it’s hard to ignore the fact that they face an inherent disadvantage in the ring because of their height. Opponents with an extended reach can easily dictate the pace and style of the fight, and shorter fighters are often left on the receiving end of powerful strikes.

However, some fighters, like Hector Sandoval, have speculated that their physiques allow them to focus on developing strength and speed, giving them an edge over taller fighters. Furthermore, the UFC provides an excess weight allowance of one pound, which can benefit shorter fighters.

The allowance gives some fighters an advantage by allowing them to cut less weight and retain some of their natural strength and speed. The excess weight allowance might be negligible in larger weight divisions, but in the lower weight classes, it can make the difference between championship-level performance and not.


In conclusion, the UFC is a world-renowned sport that has brought recognition to many talented martial artists worldwide. As we have seen in this article, fighter height plays a crucial role in determining the weight class they compete in, and it can impact their success in the ring.

Despite this, shorter fighters like Hector Sandoval,

Fredy Serrano,

Demetrious Johnson,

John Dodson, and

Antonio Banuelos have proved that height is just a number and that they have what it takes to compete successfully at the highest level. Through their hard work, strength, speed, and determination, these fighters have proven that size doesn’t always matter in the UFC.

Fredy Serrano – 5’3″ (160 cm)

Fredy Serrano is a former Colombian Olympic wrestler who switched to MMA after retiring from wrestling in 2013. He made his unofficial MMA debut in 2010 under the nickname “El Profe.” In 2014, he decided to turn pro and signed with Combate Americas.

He won his debut with a first-round KO against Raymond Velez. In late 2015, he joined Resurrection Fighting Alliance.

He won his first fight against Josh Rave via KO in the first round.

The Ultimate Fighter and UFC Career

In early 2016,

Fredy Serrano auditioned for The Ultimate Fighter 24. He made it into the cast of 16 fighters for the flyweight division.

He was put up against Team Cejudo’s Brazilian fighter Alexandre Pantoja in the quarterfinals. Pantoja won the fight via submission in the second round.

After The Ultimate Fighter, Serrano signed with the UFC and had his debut on the undercard of UFC on Fox: Holm vs. Shevchenko in July 2016.

Serrano was put up against Pedro Munhoz in the bantamweight division. Munhoz won the fight via unanimous decision.

In December 2016, Serrano faced Hector Sandoval at UFC Fight Night: VanZant vs. Waterson.

Serrano lost via unanimous decision, but both fighters were awarded the Fight of the Night bonus for their performance.

Height Disadvantage in UFC

Serrano’s height disadvantage is apparent in his fights at the bantamweight division. The average height of UFC bantamweight fighters is 5’7.

Serrano is three inches shorter than the average height of bantamweight fighters. He also has a shorter reach, which makes it challenging for him to fight against opponents with longer reaches.

Despite his height disadvantage, Serrano has won a few fights by knockout. This is because his wrestling background enables him to neutralize his opponent’s height advantage by taking them down and controlling them on the ground.


In November 2018, Serrano announced his retirement from MMA after suffering a few setbacks in his career. He lost his last three fights in the UFC, which made him reconsider his MMA career.

Demetrious Johnson – 53″ (160 cm)

Background and Height Advantage in MMA

Demetrious Johnson is a former UFC Flyweight Champion. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest MMA fighters of all time.

Johnson stands at 5’3″ (160 cm) barefoot, which is the same height as

Fredy Serrano. However, his physique and style make him a more significant force in the octagon.

Johnson was introduced to the world of MMA in 2006. He signed with the WEC and fought in the bantamweight division.

At the time, he had a height advantage over most of his opponents. His height and quick movement made him challenging to hit, and his grappling skills made him hard to take down.

In 2010, Johnson was one of the contestants on The Ultimate Fighter 12. However, he failed to make it to the finals after losing a decision to Brad Pickett in the quarter-finals.

Move to Flyweight Division

In 2012, UFC introduced the flyweight division, and Johnson moved down from bantamweight to compete in the inaugural flyweight tournament. Johnson won all four fights, including the final against Joseph Benavidez, to become the first UFC flyweight champion.

Skills and Fighting Style

Johnson’s fighting style is a perfect blend of striking and wrestling, which makes him difficult to predict. He has a high volume of striking strikes and is accurate with his hits.

He is also effective in grappling, where he has executed numerous submissions in his career. It is Johnson’s speed that sets him apart from his opponents.

He can close the distance quickly and then get out before his opponent can counter. His footwork is essential to this, and his quick movement allows him to dodge hits and get out of danger.

Johnson’s dominance in the flyweight division was unprecedented. He defended the title a record 11 times before losing to Henry Cejudo at UFC 227.

His height disadvantage was never a problem with his fighting style.


Fredy Serrano and

Demetrious Johnson are two of the shortest fighters in the UFC. However, both fighters have proven that height is not an obstacle to success.

Serrano’s wrestling background has allowed him to neutralize his opponents’ height advantage, while Johnson’s striking and grappling skills have made him hard to hit and taken down. While height and reach can provide an advantage in MMA, fighters like Serrano and Johnson show that it is not a prerequisite for success in the Octagon.

John Dodson – 5’3″ (160 cm)

John Dodson is one of the shortest fighters in the UFC. He stands at only 5’3″, but Dodson’s fighting style relies heavily on his speed and agility to make up for his height disadvantage.

Since his early days training at Jackson’s MMA, Dodson has been known for his speed and blitzing technique, which makes it difficult for opponents to hit him.

Training and Reliance on Speed and Agility

Dodson is trained in many different martial arts, including boxing, wrestling, and karate. His striking style is characterized by quick and powerful strikes.

He combines his striking with excellent footwork and the ability to move in and out of range quickly to avoid getting hit. Dodson uses his striking to set up his takedowns and submission attempts.

One of Dodson’s strengths is his ability to change the rhythm and pace of a fight. He is capable of going from very fast to much slower, which can confuse and disorient his opponents.

Dodson is also known for his ability to counterstrike, which allows him to land big hits while avoiding damage.

Success in the UFC

Dodson made his UFC debut in 2011 and immediately impressed audiences with his speed and knockout power. He quickly climbed the ranks of the flyweight division and eventually earned a title shot against then-champion

Demetrious Johnson.

Although Dodson lost the fight, he was widely praised for how close he came to winning. Dodson’s most notable victory came in 2013 when he knocked out former UFC bantamweight champion TJ Dillashaw.

Dillashaw was one of the top prospects in the UFC at that time, and Dodson’s win cemented his place as one of the best fighters in his weight class. Despite his success, Dodson has struggled in recent years, losing five of his last ten fights.

However, he remains a formidable opponent in the flyweight division, thanks to his speed and knockout power.

Antonio Banuelos – 5’3″ (160.02 cm)

Fighting History outside the UFC

Antonio Banuelos began fighting professionally in 2001 when he joined the IFC, a now-defunct MMA organization. He went on to compete in other organizations, such as the WEC, Dream, and LFC.

Banuelos fought for the WEC from 2006 to 2010. He was one of the top bantamweight fighters in the organization, compiling a record of 5-0-1.

Banuelos was known for his grappling and striking abilities, which made him a difficult opponent for other fighters.

Fighting Style and Declining Results

Banuelos was primarily a wrestler, and he relied heavily on his double-leg takedown to take his opponents down. His takedowns were usually followed by ground and pound, which he used to wear down his opponents.

Banuelos could utilize his striking abilities, but he preferred to fight on the ground. Banuelos had a winning record for a significant portion of his career.

However, he started to decline in results after 2010, with losses in the majority of his fights. One reason for this decline was his inability to prevent his opponents from taking him to the mat.

Banuelos found himself struggling against wrestlers who could hold him down and take away his striking and grappling abilities. In 2013, Banuelos lost his final MMA fight and subsequently retired from the sport.

He ended his career with a record of 20-10-1 and will always be remembered as one of the pioneers of the bantamweight division in MMA.


Being a successful fighter in the UFC is challenging, even more so for shorter fighters who must overcome a significant height disadvantage.

John Dodson and

Antonio Banuelos are two of the shortest competitors in the UFC’s history, but their respective fighting styles make them formidable opponents.

Dodson relies on his lightning-quick speed and agility to outmaneuver his opponents and land decisive strikes, while Banuelos utilized his wrestling ability to dictate where the fight went. While both fighters’ careers went in different directions, their ability to succeed despite a height disadvantage displays the beauty of the sport.

John Lineker – 5’3″ (160.02 cm)

Nickname and UFC Career

John Lineker is a Brazilian flyweight fighter who stands at 5’3″. He is known for his exceptional punching power and has earned the nickname “Hands of Stone.” Lineker has been part of the UFC roster since 2012 and has made a name for himself with his knockout abilities.

In his first UFC fight, Lineker defeated Yasuhiro Urushitani via TKO in the second round. Throughout his career, Lineker has faced some of the top fighters in the flyweight division, including Ian McCall,

John Dodson, and Michael McDonald.

Remarkable Hand Strength and Fighting Technique

Despite his height disadvantage, Lineker makes up for it with his remarkable hand strength and fighting technique. He is capable of generating a great deal of force with his striking, which often cracks his opponents and forces them to defend.

Lineker’s striking technique is characterized by his ability to attack in a barrage of punches, which overwhelms his opponents and makes it difficult for them to defend. Lineker’s knockout ability has made him one of the top fighters in the flyweight division.

He has amassed a record of 14-8 in

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