The athletic cup, an often overlooked, but critical piece of protective gear for anyone training in combat sports. The problem with groin protection for MMA, or any sport for that matter, is lack of comfort, chaffing, and lack of adequate protection. Finding a comfortable cup will give you the peace of mind you need to train and spar hard, and you’ll never regret wearing one when stray limbs and low blows connect. Fortunately, the best MMA cup options (and there are a few great ones) are easy to wear and protect your family jewels.
5 Best MMA Cup & Groin Protectors
*Last updated 2020-04-10 at 17:50 / Product Links & Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
What’s the Worst that Could Happen?
There are lot’s of reasons to wear a cup, yet guys go without because they are uncomfortable. But let’s take a look at the worst case scenarios which should make the choice to wear a cup clear.
- Severe Pain – Our bodies are wired to feel pain “down there” in order to protect the reproductive organs at all costs. A direct blow to the groin can put even the mightiest of fighters down for the count. At best you’ll need a few minutes to regroup and catch your breath, at worst you might black out or throw up. A good MMA cup is simple insurance against the inevitable stray blow.
- Ruptured Testicle – This injury is as bad as it sounds and more common than you might expect. Imagine taking an explosive knee shot directly to the nuts. If you’re lucky your stuff just smashes off to the sides but if you are in some tight compression shorts, the only way your balls can relieve the pressure is to, well, explode.
- Torn Penis – We have yet to hear of this happening in MMA, but it has befallen athletes in other sports. All it takes to prevent such a horrific injury is to wear a protective cup. The best MMA cups are comfortable enough to train at full speed while never having to worry about tearing your member.
The important thing is to find one that fits well and matches your activity and has these basic features.
- Comfort – The cup should be made of tough like polycarbonate, carbon fiber, or even titanium. The edges of the cup should be lined with gel or foam to provide soft flexible edges. You want to maintain your full range of motion while reducing chafing and digging into your thighs.
- Compression Shorts vs Jocks – You may have a preference, but the important thing is to have one or the other to keep the cup in the proper place where it can protect you the best. Moisture wicking is an added benefit of compression shorts, much like that of rash guards and tights.
Now that we’ve scared you rightly straight, it’s time to look into the best groin protection options for MMA, BJJ, Boxing, and Muay Thai. Many of these products are versatile enough to be used in multiple sports.
1. Diamond MMA Cup & Compression Short System
- Provides an entire system, built to maximize comfort throughout.
- True to size with unparalleled support.
- Higher quality comes at a higher price.
The Diamond MMA Compression Short System earns our top choice for several reasons. It’s one of the very few groin protectors design specifically for the MMA athlete. The system provides compression shorts with an integrated jock strap and cup. There is no other cup as comfortable to wear as the Diamond, and some have even said it’s like your junk isn’t even there when you get hit. What more can you ask for from a groin protector?
The system uses a four-strap jock system, sewn into the compression shorts to keep the cup in place. The cup itself has a polycarbonate core combined with a co-molded elastomer rim design that keeps the cup in place and limits the amount of digging and chaffing found in lesser models. Most have found this system to be extremely positive in their training. They have less adjusting and peace of mind.
Over and over again the fact that this a system designed specifically for fighting shines through, in part because of the comfort, but also because of the protection provided from direct hits. Many people find out the hard way, buying a Diamond MMA Compression Short system after taking a hit while wearing other cups and realizing they had inadequate protection.
2. Diamond MMA Quad Strap Jock & Cup
- No more riding with the new 4 strap jockstrap design.
- Diamond’s patent-pending secure fit for superior protection.
- Straps not as sturdy as compression shorts.
The Quad Strap & Cup is not your average jockstrap. It features an innovative four strap design that doesn’t ride up the butt, but rather uses the butt to secure the jock. It’s just another top-notch groin protection system from Diamond MMA. You can buy just the 4 strap jock and use your own cup, but you’d be best served pairing it with Diamond’s soft rimmed MMA cup.
The Diamond jock is the perfect solution for those who don’t feel quite right training in compression shorts, especially for those engaging in floor work, grappling, or running. This system earns bonus points thanks to the waistband drawstring, which many people feel extends the life of the product.
3. Lo Bloo Thai Cup 2.0
- Minimalist design with staying power for the cup.
- Can be worn with compression shorts or without.
- Especially popular with Kick Boxing and Krav Maga.
- Requires some assembly and adjustment to fit properly.
Designed to become unnoticeable and non-distracting during fighting this protection, it was created by Swedish martial arts Olympians and provides a more high-tech version of the traditional Thai fighting cup. A more minimal design, without built-in compression shorts, the cup promises the patent-pending protection of a specially designed cup while minimizing straps.
Like the Diamond MMA brand, reviewers were all very pleased with the protection provided, although it does seem that not all prefer the fit. The comfort of the more minimalist style seems to be a matter of personal preference, although the Lo Bloo allows the wearer to use the cup over boxers, briefs, under your MMA shorts, or over bare skin. Still, more mention bunching issues than with the Diamond system. There are a lot of Krav Maga users who speak very highly of this model.
4. RDX Groin Guard
- Most affordable, providing an entire system for under $30
- Cup and strap do not separate, so not machine washable.
The RDX Groin Guard provides protection at a very low price. It does so by offering a fairly basic model. Many people compare it to wearing a baseball style cup, and some prefer that fit. Whether it is because of anatomical differences or just personal preference, there are some who find this cup more comfortable. The strap itself is based on the basic jockstrap model, but has wider, leather-style fabric holding it in place. There are a fair number of reviewers who do not enjoy fighting in this style, often because they find the cup design cumbersome. What the RDX does offer is protection, so if the product price is your number one factor, it could be a great choice.
5. Title Gel Elite Groin & Ab Protector
- Extremely light-weight, with abdominal protection.
- Excellent choice for those who prefer gel-molded models
- Great for boxing.
- The fit is rather specific, and if it isn’t right for the individual, it won’t work.
This model from Title offers great groin protection for those who prefer the lightweight feeling of gel models. It is important to keep in mind, however, that the protection is limited to gel inserts. As boxing-oriented protection, while it is made to protect the groin area, it is not specifically created for a sport where hits to the groin are to be expected as an everyday part of practice. This means that if you do prefer a gel style, you should carefully evaluate your activity to determine if it will indeed provide enough protection.
6. Lo Bloo Aeroslim – Best Female Groin Protector
- Designed for the specific groin protection needs of women
- Same thoughtful, fighting-inspired design as the Lo-Bloo Thai Cup 2.0
- Requires some assembly.
Groin protection for women does not offer the same range of choices as are available for men. But that doesn’t mean women don’t need to protect the area as well. Fortunately, for women fighter, Lo Bloo has used their considerable design talents to create a model that is specifically suited to the female anatomy.
The Aeroslim is a little flatter shaped and wider at the top for more pelvic protection, and narrower at the bottom for maximum freedom of movement in the thighs. The protector is made from impact resistant polycarbonate and has a lifetime guarantee against breakage. With all that protection, you might think it’s too bulky, but the opposite is true. Women who wear the Loo Bloo Aeroslim love the minimalist design and barely there feel.
7. Shock Doctor Titan Alloy Flex Cup
- Very popular flex athletic cup, used in a wide variety of sports.
- Cup only, you’ll need a jock or compression shorts.
- Questionable protection when used in MMA.
Using both metal and gel and combining them in a specially designed form that is meant to maximize comfort has created these cups that have become extremely popular. Again and again, the shock doctor is celebrated for the comfortable experience it provides. But the main question is whether it provides enough protection. It definitely provides solid protection, but for those who want to be able to keep fighting immediately after taking a direct hit, it may not be enough. Some use a combination of Diamond and the Shock Doctor depending on whether they are sparring, fighting or practicing, and many have used the Shock Doctor in the Diamond jock strap.
Choosing Your MMA Cup
It seems like a pretty basic piece of gear: a plastic cup and something to hold it in place, but not all cups are created equally. Companies like Diamond MMA have made it their main focus, allowing fighters to invest in a piece of equipment that was designed to keep their groin safe and doing so comfortably.
Compression Shorts vs Jock Straps
Jockstraps have been around the longest, but compression shorts with cup holders have become increasingly popular. Compression shorts don’t have the straps that can ride up, dig, and chafe. Compression shorts will also allow the cup to stay in place yet still move a little, meaning you have a full range of motion. One final benefit is you can buy your favorite compression shorts with a compartment and pair it with your favorite cup.
Proper sizing is an important part of proper groin protection. It’s definitely a case where snug is good. You want it to be tight, but also comfortable, while not restricting movement.
The sizing generally goes by waist size, and if your proportions are generally an outlier for your waist size, you’ll want to spend some time reading reviews for the fit experiences of people with body types similar to yours.
Plastic vs Metal Cup
Most of the time, plastic is plenty of protection. However, for some fighters, plastic is not enough. Metal cups are for instances with extremely heavy sparring, such as occurs in Muay Thai. When regular direct hits can be expected, then metal can be a good choice, otherwise, don’t worry and go with a good plastic cup with quality cushioning.
Related: Top Kickboxing Shorts
Why So Much for a Cup?
Groin protection isn’t really just a piece of plastic and a strap. That plastic must be shaped in just the right way, combined with gels and fabrics in order to minimize chafing. If a cup is too uncomfortable, no one will wear it, providing no protection at all. By investing in a high-quality groin protection system designed specifically for MMA (our recommendation is Diamond MMA Cup & Compression Short), you’ll be giving yourself the best protection: one that is comfortable enough to protect you every day.
*Last updated 2020-04-10 at 17:50 / Product Links & Images from Amazon Product Advertising API