As an aspiring MMA athlete, you know that having the right gloves is critical to your performance and safety. It’s important for you as a fighter to have several pairs of specialized MMA gloves, one for each of the key training areas. You should match your gloves to your training activities as best as possible. MMA sparring gloves are no substitute for good competition gloves. Just like competition gloves will not be the best choice for your regular MMA bag work.
The best MMA gloves provide hand, finger, and wrist protection while leaving your hands and fingers mobile and free for movement. The top MMA gloves must be comfortable and durable to prevent injuries while you train. Some gloves are pretty versatile in their usage. Before using them, just be aware of the pros and cons of each style of gloves.
This article guides you through the best MMA gloves in each category to make buying decisions easier. We’ll show you the best times to use each glove type, so you get the best performance possible. When reviewing these gloves, just remember you are investing in an important piece of gear, so always go for the quality.
Table of Contents
- Competition MMA Gloves
- MMA Training Gloves
- MMA Sparring Gloves
- Buying Factors – Everything You Need to Know
Best for Competition – Venum Undisputed 2.0
The Undisputed 2.0 is the top MMA competition glove out there today.
These gloves exude quality from the high-density stitching to the premium grade Nappa leather materials. The kind of quality you expect to be made in Thailand and the quality that an aspiring MMA fighter should be confident in wearing inside the octagon.
The foam layers in the glove create a natural curve in the hands for immediate comfort and good ergonomics. Being made from leather, these gloves may require a longer break-in period.
The wrist support runs high and secures with a long Velcro wrap system. Overall the Undisputed 2.0 does not only look great in the Black/White/Red color scheme but are well-built gloves meant for serious MMA training.
Premium Competition Gloves – Hayabusa Tokusha Regenesis
The Tokusha Regenesis gloves are some of Hayabusa’s top regulation 4oz MMA competition gloves. These gloves are designed with a pre-formed curve in the upper knuckles and an open thumb for easy fit and comfort.
The inner liner is an odor-resistant material dubbed “X-Static” XT2. Nothing bugs me more than crappy wrist closures, and I like these gloves’ Dual-X wrist strap system.
The outer material is an engineered leather called Vylar-2, which is said to be stronger and tougher than regular leather.
Overall, there is a lot to like about these MMA competition gloves, except maybe the price is up to twice that of other gloves. However, you are paying for quality, and the Regenesis gloves are for those fighters interested in premium equipment.
Padded Thumbs – Venum Attack
The Venum Attack gloves are premium MMA competition gloves designed and manufactured in Thailand. These gloves are made with Venum premium Skintex leather, which is both comfortable and durable for training and competition.
Inside, the glove is constructed with layered, high-density foam padding designed to provide impact absorption to protect your hands.
The wrist system is a long strap with a Velcro closure, which makes it easy for fighters to get a customized fit whether they wear inner wraps or not.
Unlike other fight gloves, the Attacks have a padded thumb, which can be good depending on your fighting style. One (minor) downside is the gloves only come in black and white color schemes.
Open Palmed – UFC Official Fight Gloves
What list of MMA fight gloves would be complete without the official fight glove of the king daddy in MMA sports?
These are the real deal, actual 4-ounce gloves worn by the fighters in UFC bouts. If you have your sights set on fighting in the Octagon someday, it’s best to get familiar with the official gloves.
These gloves are open-palmed and open-thumbed for the most freedom and dexterity during grappling.
Like all the best MMA gloves, the UFC gloves are multi-layered and have pre-formed curves for shock absorption and comfort during your fights and training sessions.
Competing on a Budget – Venum Challenger
The 4oz Venum Challenger MMA gloves are similar to the Attack gloves, constructed with slightly lower-grade materials. These MMA gloves are designed in Thailand but made elsewhere in Asia.
Instead of Skintex leather, you get an outer glove made with Polyurethane (PU) leather. The Challenger gloves are built with layers of high-density foam padding, just like the Attacks.
If you like padded thumbs, these are good gloves to consider. The full wrist strap is long enough to go around twice, which I like for securing my wrist with or without inner gloves.
A bonus is the four different color schemes available to match your style. I like the Neo Yellow/Black combo the best myself.
MMA Training Gloves
Best Gel Training Gloves – RDX T2GL
RDX has some good choices in the grappling and MMA training gloves category. The T2GL gloves are built with real leather outer layers of gel technology for improved shock absorption.
The biggest difference you’ll see in these gloves compared to competition gloves is thicker padding along the front of the knuckles and a little longer finger coverage up to the last knuckle.
The RDX T2GL has a fully sleeved thumb hole and a wrist pad. Despite the additional padding, the palms remain free with a triangular open area that is great for getting in your grappling work. Lots of fighters love using these for bag training.
Best Cheap Training Gloves – RDX F12
The RDX F12 may look similar to the T2GL, but they are usually cheaper, thanks to lower-cost materials. Instead of real leather, the gloves are made from Maya Hide synthetic leather.
Instead of gel technology, the padding is your standard layered foam. The padding layout is much like the other RDX model, including a thumb sheath which I always consider a plus in an MMA training glove.
These gloves come in four colors, but I am partial to the black with red lettering. These are good options if you want a cheaper alternative to gel gloves.
Best Beginner Grappling Gloves – Everlast Pro Style
Everlast Pro Style gloves are good for someone getting into grappling training for MMA. You can take out all the punishment on a lower-cost glove and not worry about wrecking them.
These grappling gloves are simply designed, with a large foam pad covering most of the hand and fingers, but do not have any thumb protection. The palm is open but has a cross piece that helps keep the gloves positioned properly.
There are only two sizes to choose from, Small/Medium and Large/XL, so choose carefully, particularly if you wear hand wraps.
MMA Sparring Gloves
Best MMA Sparring Gloves – Venum Elite
The Venum Elite MMA sparring gloves are designed and handcrafted in Thailand, like their top Undisputed 2.0 competition gloves. These are the best MMA gloves designed specifically for MMA sparring and training, so they weigh only 7 ounces compared to heavier sparring gloves you would find for Boxing or Muay Thai. I like the finger sheath design on the Elites. I’ve always found individual finger slots to be most comfortable when sparring.
The Venum Elite is made with its premium Skintex material, which is well known for its quality and toughness. These gloves have a unique wrist system, where an inner Velcro loop straps first, followed by a longer outer strap that goes almost two full times arround. If your hand measurements are on the line, it would be smart to go up a size with these gloves.
Best Beginner Sparring – RDX MMA Sparring
The T6 sparring gloves from RDX are solid sparring gloves that aren’t terribly expensive. The T6 model utilizes the company’s gel-infused padding technology to help reduce shock and impact on your hands.
A lot of people like the gel padding in their gloves. The gloves are made from a May Hide synthetic leather for excellent durability.
In terms of design, these are a little more basic than Venum’s. There are finger slots, but no unifying cross piece and the thumb hole and padding are shorter and less substantial than the Venum Elite. I do like the open palm design to be still able to grapple while doing sparring work.
Best Cheap MMA Sparring – Combat Sports Max Strike
The Combat Sports Max Strike is a popular sparring glove for MMA fighters. It is an approximately 7 to 8-ounce leather sparring glove with excellent padding on the striking areas. The padding can be described as “soft yet firm,” as it feels soft to the touch but has a firmness you can feel when delivering punches.
You should check out the Combat Sports MMA Safety Sparring Gloves for a more affordable version of these gloves. They are nearly identical in design but built with entry-level materials used, such as cheaper foam padding. Fans of the show “The Ultimate Fighter” might even recognize them as some of the MMA training gloves used in the show’s early seasons.
Key Factors in Choosing Your MMA Gloves
- Competition – MMA competition gloves have minimal padding and typically weigh around 4 ounces or less, depending on the competition rules. The fingers are separated and open to allow movement and the ability to hold onto your opponent. With little padding, it remains important to use hand wraps or inner gloves, as they are your only protection when you step into the cage.
- Training/Bag/Grappling/Hybrid – This style of MMA Glove goes by several names, but they all refer to the same thing. They have segmented fingers with padding covering up to the second knuckle. This design allows your hands and fingers enough movement to grapple and still have some basic protection.
- Sparring – In MMA sparring and bag workouts, the focus is on your striking and punching techniques. MMA sparring gloves weigh around 7 ounces on average and have more padding around the top and front to protect your hands from unnecessary punishment. Much like boxing gloves, MMA sparring gloves have a grip bar that helps form a tight fist for punching. This also makes them less suitable for grappling work. For non-MMA sparring, it is OK to use regular boxing gloves.
- Leather vs Synthetic Leather – 100% leather is the high-quality material of choice for MMA gloves. Yes, leather is expensive compared to synthetic materials, but it is tough, natural, and extremely durable, so long as you take care of it. Synthetic leather can be good, but typically you can feel the difference. It just feels a little cheaper. Also, keep an eye out for the country of manufacture of the MMA gloves. The best MMA gloves are often made in Thailand, where the combat sporting gear industry has a huge presence. Cheap MMA gloves could be made in China, Pakistan, or almost anywhere.
- Padding – Foam is the padding material used in most MMA gloves. Many gloves use layered foam, while others use regular foam. Like the outer glove materials, the cheaper the foam, the less likely it is to hold up over months and years of use. Look for gloves with quality foam padding, especially for your focus mitt sparring and competition gloves, where punching is important.
- Wrist Strap – Look for a solid Velcro wrist strap on your gloves. The strap helps keep your gloves secure and tight around your fist.
Best MMA Gloves Brands
Here are the most popular and best MMA glove brands. These are good companies known for their quality boxing and MMA gear.
- Hayabusa – This popular MMA company produces top-quality technical fight gear. It’s fitting that the name “Hayabusa” is Japanese for Peregrine Falcon, a bird known for its deadly speed and power. Hayabusa prides itself on making gear that follows the tradition of the Japanese Bushido warrior code.
- Fairtex – Fairtex has been the top brand of Muay Thai gloves in Thailand since 1971 and has since branched out into mixed martial arts gear.
- Combat Sports – In 2003, Combat Sports began offering its brand of fight gear products. This is a popular online MMA store that also carries many of the top-name brands in the world. Their goal is to help outfit all MMA athletes, from beginners to professionals.
- Venum – Venum is a massively popular combat sports brand. They produce a huge array of MMA, boxing, BJJ, and Martial Arts gear for both men and women. Venum MMA gloves are among the best in the industry.
- TITLE – Title Boxing has been around since 1998. They brought their expertise into MMA gear in 2007. Title makes great MMA training gloves and good MMA bag gloves. In addition to the boxing gloves and apparel, Title makes great heavy bags and grappling dummies.
- Everlast – The name Everlast and boxing go hand in hand. They became a household name after designing Jack Dempsey’s boxing gloves in his 1919 heavyweight championship bout. Everlast has taken its expertise in boxing and now produces quality MMA gloves.
MMA Glove Size and Weight Guide
Most size charts will have you measure the circumference around the knuckles of your 4 fingers and sometimes the size of your wrist. MMA glove sizing charts are more or less the same between brands, with some slight size variations. In general, the sizes can be broken down like this:
- Small: 6 ½” -7 ½”
- Medium: 7 ½” – 8”
- Large: 8” – 9”
- X-Large: 9”-10”
Always refer to each brand’s specific size chart if there is any doubt. If you wear hand wraps under your gloves, remember to increase the glove size by one.
MMA glove weights vary by the type and function of the glove. Bag gloves weigh more than competition gloves because they have more padding to protect your hands. Sparring gloves are heavier to protect your sparring partner from injury. Some “hybrid” gloves lie between the minimalist fight gloves and the heavily padded bag gloves. Here are the types and weights for the types of gloves. Some variations can be expected between brands.
- Fight/Competition: 4-6 ounces
- Hybrid: 7-10 ounces
- Boxing Sparring: 14-16 ounces
- MMA Sparring: 7-10 ounces
- Bag Gloves: 10-12-14-16 ounces depending on your weight
Can Boxing Gloves be Used for MMA?
While you may be tempted to save some money by repurposing your boxing gloves for MMA, it’s not the best idea. The one exception might be for sparring.
The reason is that the gloves’ size, weight, and design differ. Boxing gloves are not intended for MMA’s mixed striking and grappling nature. Boxing gloves weigh from 8 to 16 oz, while the heaviest MMA sparring gloves only reach 7 or 8 ounces. Then try to practice grappling with 16oz boxing gloves on. You just can’t do it effectively.
So do yourself a favor and buy a few pairs of MAM gloves, one for grappling and general training, one for sparring, and one for competition if that’s the route you plan on taking.
Should MMA Gloves be Used on Heavy Bags?
When it’s time to work on the heavy bag, it’s best to use gloves suited for the task. Punching a heavy bag repeatedly puts tremendous stress on your fingers and wrists. This means leaving the 4oz half-finger gloves in the gym bag and tying on some heavy bag gloves designed to absorb the shock.
You might only use light gloves to toughen your knuckles and wrists, but be extremely cautious about this. Otherwise, it’s a recipe for injury. No matter what you do, always wrap your hands before hitting the heavy bag!
If you are a gym member, talk to other members and coaches to learn if there are any guidelines for glove weight. It can be considered rude to spar with 14-ounce gloves if that isn’t the norm in the gym!
When in doubt, go for quality in your gloves. It’s better to buy a high-quality glove that lasts than to replace cheap MMA gloves due to premature wear. Buying the best MMA gloves you can afford is a good investment in your training and will last you many months and years.
More Fight Gear & Resources
- Boxing Gloves for Women (Beginners, Cardio, Gel)
- MMA Gloves (Training, Sparring, Fighting)
- Muay Thai Gloves (Bag Work, Sparring, Competition)
- Free Standing Punching Bags (Century, Ringside & More)
- Muay Thai Heavy Bags (Kickboxing, Banana, Teadrop)
- Heavy Bag Stands for Home (Combos & Corner Stands)
- Speed Bags (TITLE, Cleto & More)
- Speed Bag Platforms & Swivels (Wall & Corner Mount)
- Reflex Bags (Ringside, Everlast & More)
- Reflex Bars (Sparbar & Boxing Bar)
- Double End Bags (Pea, Double Ball, Mexican Style)
- Headgear for Boxing, MMA, Muay Thai
- Cups & Groin Protection (MMA, BJJ, Muay Thai)
- Mouthguards (Custom Fit, Boil & Bite)
- Shin Guards for Muay Thai & Kickboxing
Shoes & Apparel
- Boxing Shoes (Boots, Mids, Hi-Tops, & Wrestling)
- MMA Shorts (Board, Vale Tudo, Hybrid Styles)
- Muay Thai Shorts (Traditional, Modern, & Hybrid)
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