There are a lot of key factors to consider when buying your first MMA gloves. In fact, you will most likely need more than one pair if you plan to train professionally. Unlike boxing gloves, which in their entirety are similar, MMA gloves can be divided into fighting styles.
Ideally, a single pair will not prevent you from completing the majority of training. If you want to train professionally, however, several pairs that match the different training areas are a necessity.
Your main focus when choosing gloves should be protection. Good MMA gloves combine flexibility with wrist, finger, and hand protection. In Mixed Martial Arts, gloves rarely weigh more than 4 ounces and you can expect little to almost no padding.
What this means is that you will hardly get enough protection from the gloves alone. Consider using hand wraps or even inner gloves in MMA as you will feel every hit.
It is not hard to imagine that MMA gloves offer little protection to your sparring partners or opponents as well. Getting hit during training will put you at risk of injury. This is another key reason why you may need more than just one pair.
What you will need are MMA sparring gloves. Regular boxing gloves are suitable as well if you happen to possess those, but fighting techniques differ entirely in these two sports. Your fingers to be free in MMA for the grappling side of the game. Imagine training with boxing gloves only. What happens when you suddenly need to use MMA ones for a competition?
With this said, the following guide will give you comprehensive information on the different types of gloves and what to look for when choosing any pair.
MMA Gloves Are Unique
Fingerless gloves like the ones we use in MMA today were non-existent until the beginning of the 90s when MMA became an official regulated sport. According to Epic Sports, a similar type of gloves was already in use in Japan but they became widely known only after UFC added them as a mandatory accessory.
In case you need further explanation, MMA gloves are open-fingered. Depending on the type you choose, you can go for a model whose padding covers either the first or second knuckle. Ideally, the most commonly used ones are those that cover only the first knuckle as it provides more grappling opportunity. In addition, there shouldn’t be any padding on the palm, once again to strengthen your grip.
Types of Gloves
In order to make it as easy for you as possible, I have divided MMA gloves into three main types – Grappling, Sparring, and Competition.
Grappling gloves allow additional finger movement. Although you will never use this type of gloves in official fights or competition, they are extremely useful when it comes to ground fighting training such as grappling and clinch work.
Shows of strength and strong punching are rarely the main purposes of sparring. What you normally focus on is accuracy and technique. Sparring gloves are a necessity if you plan long sessions. Using regular ones will put both you and your partner at risk of injuries. My tip here is to invest in the best pair that fits your budget.
Sparring gloves are heavier than your regular 4 to 6 oz MMA gloves. They provide extra protection to the hand through additional padding and have an inner grip bar similar to boxing gloves. This way, your fist will be in the correct safer form for punching.
Although sparring MMA gloves should naturally bring more protection to you and your partner, it still hurts being hit with those gloves. My suggestion is to use mouthpieces and headgear at all times or you may lose of tooth or suffer cuts without head gear. It is a fighting sport but you do not want to pick up any needless injuries in training.
Competition gloves are what you need to focus on the most. Although you will most certainly be using the different types we mentioned above, you need to get experienced with the professional gloves before you actually get into a real fight.
Competition gloves have little to no padding and weigh around 4 ounces. Never forget to use additional protection like hand wraps. Although these gloves are constructed to deal more damage to your opponent, they will hurt you as well. Always remember to look after your hands well, they are kind of important!
Materials and Notable Characteristics
There is a wide variety of materials used in MMA glove production. The most common, however, are genuine leather and synthetic leather. I think we all know the usual case. If you purchase cheaper equipment, it is most certainly made from lower-quality materials.
Synthetic leather is, of course, the cheaper option. It does the job, but once you try genuine leather gloves, you will feel the difference. Naturally, genuine leather is better in all aspects and will last you much longer.
However, my personal tip is to always get the pair that feels most comfortable. Genuine or not, it is all up to how you feel. Do not listen to negative comments around you. Sellers and people around you will most likely want you to get the most expensive pair. Although in most cases with gloves, cheaper means worst, I would suggest that you get those that make you feel the best.
The majority of gloves have some type of foam as padding inside. It is usually around the knuckles. Besides that, MMA gloves are easy to put on and off as they have Velcro.
If you plan on spending a little more and you give one of the brands below a chance, you will most likely buy gloves that were manufactured in Thailand. It is the country which produces the highest quality gloves.
If you settle for something cheaper as a start, the chances are that you may find gloves from China or elsewhere. Always look at the country of origin and search for Thai products.
I mentioned weight briefly when I explained the different types of gloves, but here is a more in-depth look. As I mentioned, sparring and training gloves weigh more than competition gloves. Normally, you would stumble upon 7 – 10 ounces.
Competition gloves weigh from 4 to 6 ounces but in specific competitions, you can run across gloves that are under 4 ounces in weight. This means that for every tournament, you can expect different variations. It all depends on the organizers.
If you want to be extraordinary, you can always purchase more than two or three types of gloves and have separate ones for every style of training. In such cases, there are gloves entirely made for punching bags which depend on your personal weight. Normally, they start from 10 ounces and go to up to regular boxing glove weights – 16 ounces.
What size MMA gloves do you need?
Getting the right size is of key importance. You have to know that it will directly influence your overall training and development. The way to know for sure is to measure your palm circumference. Sizes will rarely vary between brands but you can always check the correct measurements for the different brands. It is mandatory for them to specify everything.
Getting ill-fitting MMA gloves can result in injuries. In addition, your training will not be 100% sufficient. There are four regular sizes from small to extra large.
If you want to be extra specific with your size, some brands offer additional options. You can see a number of comprehensive charts in the glove size guide by Combat Sports. Just make sure you always take a close look at the definite sizes provided by each separate brand.
For your convenience, here is a small chart with the four most regular sizes:
|Small||6¾ – 7½|
|Medium||7¼ – 8¾|
|Large||8½ – 9¾|
|Extra Large||9½ – 10½|
Do you need to wrap my hands with MMA gloves?
The bones in our hands are among the smallest and weakest in our bodies. According to Dr. Michael Gleiber, hand injuries are among the most common injuries in not only MMA but Boxing and other martial arts.
According to a study, conducted on professional MMA fighters, there was a high degree in degeneration in their hand joints. You can read that here on the NCBI website.
I would say that disruptions in the bone structure of the hand of an elite MMA fighter are inevitable. If you plan on training for the sake of physical activity or love for the sport, you can do a lot to prevent serious long-term damage.
MMA is an ancient sport, although it was called this way about 30 years ago. Before it was an official sport, fighters didn’t have any hand protection besides maybe bandages. Nowadays, we use gloves for this sole purpose. However, these light open-fingered gloves do not really give you a lot of protection.
Therefore, the answer is yes. My personal suggestion is to always use hand wraps when you plan on training. I am saying this from personal experience. When I found my growing interest in martial arts, I started going to a local gym where they had a punching bag. There was only a punching bag and a few pairs of Boxing and Muay Thai gloves.
Of course, I would always go for the Muay Thai ones as it felt much better to hit the bag with them. After every session with the punching bag, I would have my hands bleeding and swollen. That was simply because I was hitting the bag too hard with no extra protection.
It was only after I started training with a professional trainer and got my first personal equipment that I understood all my mistakes and since then I have never trained without hand wraps and inner gloves. This is why I think you need to read this guide until the very end. I wasn’t smart enough to search for basic information but now that you are reading this, you will not make my mistakes.
If this excerpt of my guide wasn’t convincing enough, below you can find a small list of how hand wraps improve protection. I am focusing on this a lot as it is as important as having a good pair of gloves.
In addition, years ago I found an amazing book by Jonathan Gelber which focuses on all possible MMA injuries and how to prevent them. Click here and you will get redirected to the book itself. With this said, here are simply a few ways hand wraps improve your overall training experience:
- It will keep your wrist straight
- Prevents knuckles from separating
- Reduces unexpected thumb movements
- Additional padding for direct impact
- Additional protection of your hand for blocking punches
If you are unfamiliar with hand wrapping, click here to see a quick video guide.
MMA Gloves And Heavy Punching Bags – NOT a Good Idea. What To Use?
Incorporating a training with a punching bag is of the highest importance for your overall improvement in Mixed Martial Arts. However, I think we can all already agree that it shouldn’t be done with regular gloves. Even with all the additional protection, I spent so much time talking about, it will not be enough for a session that lasts more than a few minutes.
I think that if you have reached this far in the guide, you already know that you need heavier gloves with thicker padding. As I do not plan on repeating myself, I wanted to address a specific type of gloves that crashed the market not so long ago.
Recently, brands like Title introduced a new type of gloves for punching bags that have additional gel padding. Directly speaking about the TITLE MMA Performance Gel Bag Gloves, they not only deliver a new level of protection to your knuckles, but they secure your fingers and wrists far better.
Your MMA Go-To Brands
This is a brand known for focusing a lot on the technological aspect of creating the perfect fighting equipment. In addition, they take a lot of influence from Japanese traditions which you can easily note after looking through their products.
I have to say that I have had a pair of old Ikusa gloves by Hayabusa and I would definitely suggest them to anyone that is at the beginning of his career. Currently, there is a newer version of Ikusa but it remains affordable and sufficient compared to other models at this price range.
Another impressive model which I am simply giving out after reading countless positive reviews is Tokushu Regenesis. People have been overwhelmed by this pair of gloves and I would definitely love to try them out in the future as well.
Venum is another brand in the industry that produces top quality products for all styles of martial arts. Whether it is boxing, MMA, or something else, you will most certainly find what you are looking for. It is a brand which focuses on safety a lot and most gloves have additional foams to protect every bone in your hands and wrists.
Besides that, Venum is my all-time favorite brand for MMA gloves. My latest gloves were the Venum Undisputed 2.0 MMA Gloves and I was pretty sure I would hardly switch to other gloves in the future. Unfortunately, since I am currently at a break from MMA, I simply gave them away.
In addition, I would also recommend the Venum Challenger pair which I have also tried a couple of times before as well.
Even if you are new to martial arts, I am sure you have heard about the brand Everlast. They have been going hand in hand since the very beginning of Boxing. In the latest decades, they emerged and started their own MMA line of products.
Besides bringing high quality, Everlast products are often far cheaper than what you would expect. Take, for example, the Pro Style Grappling Gloves. Although I wouldn’t rank this pair as one of the greatest, they will fit you perfectly if you are a beginner. Besides that, they cost under $30.
I would definitely recommend Everlast if you want to get additional gloves for each type of training and you have a tight budget.
I truly believe that this guide was sufficient enough to put you on the right track towards completing your dreams in MMA. We went through the different types of gloves and how to find the right ones. In addition, we discussed the dangers of not using extra protection in MMA, and I mentioned some of my go-to brands for this particular sport.
I would highly suggest that you go through the different links provided in this guide. It is always better to be prepared, especially for a combat sport.
There are countless products to choose from both online and in physical stores. My suggestion is to always buy gloves in person. This way you can feel each model and decide for yourself. I have given you my personal favorites, now it is your time to find yours. Be sure to check mine out through the direct links I have provided.
To sum up, all I have to say to you is to stay safe. Always aim for the best at your price range. Good investments now will save you problems in the future.