Boxing Gloves vs MMA Gloves – 5 Critical Differences

As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. As an affiliate, I may earn a commission from purchases made through the links on this page.

Boxing and MMA gloves are designed very differently. Understanding why is the key to choosing which are best to use and when. Both types of gloves also come in a variety of different types, each geared towards specific kinds of use.

So how are you supposed to know what kind of gloves to choose? Don’t worry, we’ve got you. Here we’ll demystify the differences between various glove types and clue you in on when it’s best to use each.

The quickest way to tell apart Boxing Gloves from MMA Gloves is that boxing gloves are larger, thicker, and designed with full-coverage, curved fingers. MMA gloves are lighter and feature open palms and fingers to allow freer hand movement.

Boxing Gloves Facts

Grey and Lime Green pair of Boxing Gloves

Featured: Everlast Powerlock Training Gloves

Boxing gloves are designed to be used in striking-heavy sports like Boxing, Muay Thai, and kickboxing. They tend to be heavier than the average MMA glove because they provide more cushioning.

The mitt-like shape of boxing gloves covers the fingers completely and keeps the hands locked in a fist position. As any boxer can tell you, an improperly thrown punch can do a lot more damage to you than your opponent, so the shape and added wrist support are designed to help minimize the risk of injury.

  • Mitt-like Shape
  • Fully Covered Fingers
  • Hands Locked in Closed Fist
  • More Wrist Support
  • More Padding & Heavier Weight

The main difference in boxing glove types comes down to their weight, which is actually a measurement of how much padding they provide.

Heavier gloves offer more protection but may also tire you out quicker because of their added weight. Lighter gloves, on the other hand, will allow for more speed but offer less protection. Some boxers have multiple types of gloves for different situations.

Boxing Glove Uses

  • Sparring – Sparring gloves are designed to be on the heavier side in order to provide more protection for both you and your sparring partner. As a general rule, most boxers will use at least 16 oz gloves for sparring sessions.
  • Bag Gloves – Bag gloves are designed to be used for bag or pad work and tend to be lighter than sparring gloves. While they offer less padding, they also allow for more speed and less resistance due to their lighter weight.
  • Competition – Professional gloves are lighter than training gloves and made with firmer padding. While sizing and color requirements vary based on the rules of each competition, 8 oz to 10 oz sizing is pretty standard. Professional gloves usually have lace-up wrists for added support, as opposed to training gloves, which often have Velcro wrist straps.

If you’re looking for gloves geared more towards striking than grappling, these kinds of gloves are your best bet. They’ll provide better hand and wrist support to minimize the risk of injury.

MMA Glove Facts

Black and Yellow competion MMA Gloves

Featured: Everlast Powerlock Competition Gloves

MMA gloves, like those used in UFC fights, have open fingers and less padding than boxing gloves. This is because MMA combines striking with grappling, which requires far more open hand movement and dexterity.

While MMA glove design has evolved over time. Today they are much lighter, with a compact design, allowing fighters to use their hands in more ways, the tradeoff is that they also tend to offer less padding and protection.

  • Open Fingers
  • Less Padding
  • Designed for Grappling
  • Lighter

Like boxing gloves, MMA gloves come in a variety of different styles that are designed for specific purposes.

MMA Glove Uses

  • Training – MMA training gloves have much less padding than boxing gloves but still enough to add some measure of knuckle protection. They fit like fingerless gloves to keep the fingers separated but still free to move and grip.
  • Sparring – Sparring MMA gloves look the most similar to boxing gloves because they’re designed with extra padding over the top of the fist. The difference is that they often have open palms and individual finger holes.
  • Grappling – Grappling MMA gloves are designed to allow for maximum freedom of movement and emphasize grip over padding.
  • Competition Gloves – Most MMA competitors wear 4 oz- 6 oz fight gloves, depending on the rules of the fight venue. These gloves are designed with minimal padding to allow for maximum impact and freedom of hand movement.

If your sport requires grappling, then we recommend MMA gloves all the way. While they offer less padding, they also allow for a much wider range of hand movement.

MMA Bag Gloves

Black and Red MMA style Heavy Bag Gloves

Featured: Everlast MMA Heavy Bag Gloves

One interesting alternative is hybrid-style gloves that combine some aspects of traditional boxing and MMA gloves. Think grappling fused with striking and you have a hybrid glove for MMA.

These gloves feature MMA style open palm and thumb, with a single thick pad section covering all the knuckles. You get the flexibility for grappling and the protection for bag work in one glove.

One of these gloves is the Everlast MMA Pro Striking Glove, which certainly looks like MMA mashed up with bag gloves. The curved grip, open hand, and thumb, combined with fully padded knuckles give you an MMA glove that can be used for boxing.

Do MMA Gloves Hurt More Than Boxing Gloves?

It depends. Keep in mind that boxing gloves are designed specifically for punching and offer the boxer a high level of support. This means that boxers can land harder punches without as much fear of hurting their hands.

Depending on the skill of the fighter, getting hit hard enough with either boxing or MMA gloves can definitely result in injury. So, take your coach’s advice and keep those hands up!

Can You Use MMA Gloves for Boxing?

While it might be okay to use MMA gloves on a lighter bag or for pad work, it’s definitely not recommended to do heavy bag work with anything less than boxing gloves. Most MMA gloves just don’t offer the level of padding and support you’ll need to minimize the risk of injury.

As far as sparring or fighting goes, wearing MMA gloves may work to your disadvantage if you’re in a pure striking match. The extra padding in boxing gloves goes a long way in not only supporting strikes but also in blocking them. In this case, give the “Hybrid” style gloves a try.

5 Differences Between MMA and Boxing Gloves

1. Padding

Boxing gloves are all about padding because they are designed for sports that rely heavily (or completely) on punching. They’re constructed to provide enough protection to allow boxers to punch at full force.

MMA gloves, on the other hand, are designed with much less padding. While they do provide some measure of protection, they also feature an open finger design that allows for the type of finger movement needed for grappling.

2. Finger Compartment

The inside of boxing gloves is similar to a pair of oversized mittens. With the exception of the thumb, the individual fingers are not separated. The distinctive curve of boxing gloves is also designed to keep the hands in a very specific shape.

MMA gloves fit more like fingerless gloves. They’re designed to separate the fingers and allow for much freer movement.

3. Wrist Closure

Competition boxing gloves almost always lace up and go further up the fighter’s forearm to provide as much wrist support as possible. While some boxing gloves are also available with Velcro wrist straps, these are mostly used for training.

MMA gloves have a strap that wraps around the wrist and is held in place by a Velcro closure. They’re usually shorter than boxing gloves and rarely go much higher than just above the wrist.

4. Hand Wrapping

Most boxers rely on hand wraps to keep their fingers separated and supply extra wrist support. Many boxing gloves are designed with a bit of extra room on the inside to account for this.

MMA gloves are snugger and more compact.MMA gloves fit much tighter and may not have enough room to accommodate hand wraps, though some fighters do use them.

5. Weight

While both boxing and MMA gloves are available in different weights, boxing gloves are usually going to be much heavier due to the added padding. Even the lightest boxing gloves will likely be around the same weight as the heaviest MMA gloves.

Are MMA or Boxing Gloves Better?

Each is better for the sport they’re designed to be used in. The extra padding and support of traditional boxing gloves are great for striking, but a nightmare if you need to grip.

Likewise, the extra dexterity and freedom of MMA gloves are awesome for groundwork, but won’t do you any favors if you find yourself in a pure boxing match.

The bottom line, whenever possible, stick with the type of glove intended for your sport and specific training activity. Use MMA gloves on heavy bags if there are no other alternatives, but be careful!

Thomas Davies

Thomas has spent over a decade teaching and growing Boxing and MMA through his writing. His goal is to teach and inspire with the unique discipline & health benefits that combat sports can provide. More About Us.

View stories