An MMA fighter’s kit consists of shorts, mouth guard, shin guards, groin guard, hand wraps and gloves. When it comes to the gloves, specialist MMA gloves are required – an ordinary pair of boxing gloves will not do. Below is a brief guide to MMA gloves.
What do MMA gloves look like?
MMA gloves have less padding than boxing gloves – usually about 4 to 6 ounces of padding. This is because MMA fighters will usually throw less punches than boxers and because it makes the gloves lighter.
Another identifying feature is that they are fingerless. The palm is also open rather than being covered in padding. This allows for easier grappling, which can be a big part of MMA.
Sparring gloves vs competition gloves
Many MMA fighters will use separate gloves for sparring to the ones they use when competing. Different gloves can have different advantages.
Sparring gloves usually offer more padding (usually 7 ounces of padding). This makes them less punishing on the hands when practicing and more appropriate for bag work. These MMA gloves also tend to have a solid grip bar at the top of the palm below the fingers. This helps when practicing clenching of the fist and further prevents injury to the hands. If you’re just getting started in MMA and aren’t likely to compete any time soon, you may want to opt for these types of gloves.
Competition gloves generally have 4 to 6 ounces of padding. Their lighter weight allows for freer movement of the hands. Due to the reduced protection, these MMA gloves should be worn with hand wraps to protect the hands from injury. Most professional fighters will opt for 4 ounce gloves because of the weight benefits, while amateurs usually opt for 6 ounce gloves because of the added protection. Competition gloves do not have grip bars, making grappling easier.
What to look for in good MMA gloves?
A decent pair of MMA gloves will tend to be made from 100% leather. There are some high quality synthetic leather gloves out there, but they’re typically less durable. Cheap synthetic gloves will usually smell synthetic and may only be held together by glue, making them inappropriate for sparring or competing with.
Many of the best MMA gloves use foam padding. Gel padding is also common but is usually better for sparring and training gloves rather than competition gloves due to not being quite as robust. Cheap foam padded gloves can be found, but bear in mind that the foam may not be as high quality as the stuff found in more premium gloves.
Good MMA gloves should have wrist straps to keep them securely fitted on the hands. These are usually made from velcro, allowing them to be easily put on and taken off. Long and wide velcro straps can help to secure the gloves more effectively.
Most well known brands will offer good quality gloves. You should be careful of buying cheap gloves from unknown brands – you want something that is safe, comfortable and durable.