Ultimate Guide to the Best MMA Gloves

best mma gloves

If you are an MMA fighter, your gloves will be one of the most crucial aspects of competing in cage fighting.

In fact, other than wearing a mouthguard, gloves will be the only form of protection you can use while fighting. Western Boxing gloves are usually only worn when a fighter is engaged in serious sparring sessions, but in MMA, gloves are worn in every aspect of training – sparring, grappling, and actual fighting.

Sparring while wearing MMA gloves is entirely different than doing so with Western Boxing gloves. They differ from Boxing gloves in several categories, including:

  • Reach
  • Timing
  • Hand and finger mobility
  • Padding

These differences are why MMA fighters and trainees must adjust to using these gloves as they spar, wrestle, and clinch while they spar.

I’m here to tell you that it is a bad mistake to use Boxing gloves in training without integrating MMA gloves. Wearing MMA gloves for the first time during an actual fight is not ideal. It does not factor in the steep learning curve that you undergo when transitioning from Western Boxing gloves to MMA gloves.

As with the other kinds of combat sport gear in the marketplace, there are lots of MMA gloves available for purchase. There are so many brands out there that I can’t possibly discuss all the MMA glove brand and styles. What I can do is provide you with information and feedback on the top choices based on their reliability, specifications, and cost.

Why You Should Listen to Me

I’m a reliable source of information on MMA gloves because I’ve trained and fought in MMA. I am not speaking about this subject based one someone else’s knowledge. I’m very familiar with MMA fight gear. I have participated in MMA training for years, fought as an amateur in many MMA tournaments and matches. During this time, I exclusively used MMA gloves.

I’m also well-versed in the art of Muay Thai because I moved to Thailand, living and training there for five years. Afterwards, I made the switch to training in Western Boxing, and I know now that this is where I belong. Because of my extensive training and fighting background, I have learned a lot about fight gears, including gloves. I’ve trained or fought using most of the glove brands in all three of these combat sports – MMA, Western Boxing, and Muay Thai, and used them as I trained and fought in actual matches.

We will discuss the qualities you need in an MMA glove in a moment. First, I will tell you about my top MMA glove pick. At this writing, my evaluation includes all the new gloves on the market.

My Number One MMA Glove

The Hayabusa Ikusa MMA Glove is an outstanding glove that enjoys some of the best product reviews of all MMA gloves.

Hayabusa Ikusa MMA Glove

There are four qualities that you should look for in MMA gloves. They are:

  • Comfort
  • Protection
  • Quality
  • Fit

Hayabusa’s Ikusa MMA gloves possess these qualities and offer a great glove at an affordable price.

The Ikusa gloves are only moderately priced, yet feature excellent characteristics not found in many gloves in the marketplace. Comparing them to standard gloves like Everlast reveals the superior feel that Hayabusa possesses.

This brand has consistently been a leading MMA gear provider because they outstanding, long lasting equipment. The Hayabusa Ikusa has achieved a five-star rating on Amazon, making it one of the highest, if not the highest rated MMA glove on the market.

My Recommendation: The Hayabusa Ikusa gloves are the best MMA gloves out there.

The Hayabusa Ikusa is a superior MMA glove. They provide fighters with a wide range of benefits at an affordable cost.

The Differences Between Combat Sport Gloves

The gloves used in MMA feature an open finger design allowing finger mobility. Having open fingers allows mixed martial artists to grip an opponent, and allows them to grapple and wrestle in addition to striking.

Since MMA gloves are smaller, they also weigh a lot less than other combat gloves. The standard Muay Thai gloves weighs from 8-10 oz., while standard MMA gloves weigh between 4-6 oz. The result is that MMA gloves have much less knuckle protection than Muay Thai gloves.

The smaller amount of protection results in a greater amount of impact experienced by both the fighter throwing and receiving the punch. When a regular jab is thrown with MMA gloves, the hand of the striker and the fighter who is hit is worse for wear with MMA gloves than they would if they were using traditional Thai gloves. Because of this, it is not a good idea for MMA fighters to use MMA gloves in sparring unless the striking is being strongly controlled or it is a practice for transitioning from sparring to clinching, wrestling, and or grappling.

Again, sparring with MMM gloves will not allow you to spar with the same intensity (for the sake of your hands and the health of your sparring partner) that you would if you were using Thai or Western Boxing gloves.

If you insist on sparring while wearing MMA gloves, you will need to do this wearing sparring-level MMA gloves, and not competition MMA gloves that will not adequately protect your hands or sparring partner.

Using MMA Sparring Gloves

The gloves that MMA fighters use to spar weigh 7 oz., much less than the usual 12-16 oz. gloves used by sparring Thai fighters. MMA sparring gloves are better cushioned to provide extra protection from punching impact.

Using Non-MMA Gloves for Sparring

Some MMA fighters will incorporate Muay Thai sparring in their training. If you decide to do this, you must use a solid pair of Muay Thai gloves. Many MMA fighters own standard sparring gloves, standard MMA gloves, and a pair of Muay Thai gloves.

Using MMA Gloves for MMA Activities and Boxing/Muay Thai Gloves for Sparring

While this should be understood at this point, for the sake of clarity. I am going to state the following fact. MMA gloves are not to be used for hitting a traditional heavy bag or for non-MMA sparring. Trying to hit a traditional heavy bag using 4 oz. gloves will damage the hand and potentially the wrist if the wrong gloves are repeatedly used.

Gloves made specifically for bags are best used due to their additional hand and wrist protection. You might succeed in escaping injury for a time, eventually, you will be sorry that you didn’t opt for more protection for your hands. If you are smarter with your training, you will avoid injury and last longer as a fighter. Once you reach the age of 30, any of your foolish training decisions will come home to roost because the aches and pains will be felt every day.

How MMA Glove Material Affects Your Training

MMA gloves are usually constructed from either authentic or imitation leather. Imitation leather gloves usually cost less and the quality of the gloves reflects the lower cost. The faux leather is meant to be more durable than genuine leather. However, what it gains in durability it loses in comfort.

Authentic leather gloves cost more, but I think that they are much preferable to own than imitation leather. UFC gloves are constructed of authentic leather, which makes one believe that authentic leather would be preferable to other options.

MMA gloves are made with a Velcro strap that helps you don them or remove them with assistance from a coach or training partner. Buying the correct fitting glove becomes even more important. Buying an ill-fitting glove will prevent you from getting the maximum benefit from using it.

These gloves have padding made of thick foam providing you with extra knuckle protection. While this could vary depending on the glove manufacturer, almost all gloves provide some type of padded material internally.

Usually, buying discount gloves means that you end up with a cheaply made glove. I have always believed that it was a good idea to pay more for a quality glove because you will want it to last for many years. If you buy cheaply, you will end up owning a substandard glove that you will end up replacing before you want to do so.

The best-made MMA gloves come from Thailand. This is true because they have the combat gear factories and readily use the highest quality materials. Cheaper gloves are manufactured in countries like China and Pakistan. However, you must know this or do your research before you buy. The gloves that are made in Thailand will proudly advertise it. The cheap gloves will say “Thai-inspired,” “Thai-developed,” or some verbiage that mentions the word “Thai,” but they will not say Thai-made.

MMA Glove Sparring

Keep in mind that as you use MMA gloves that you must avoid full sparring using regulation MMA gloves. For full-on sparring, wear Western Boxing gloves unless you want to risk delivering head injuries and receiving hand injuries.

Despite MMA sparring gloves being made with extra padding not found in regulation MMA gloves, it is not wise to use them for sparring because they are not constructed for full-contact sparring.

The standard MMA glove size contains just 7 oz. of pad protection, meaning that the chance for injury for yourself or your sparring partners is greater. These facts demonstrate the importance of controlling your power striking and concentrating on technique instead of using these gloves during hard sparring sessions.

To work on your striking, spar using 12 to 16 oz. Muay Thai Boxing gloves. Using these gloves will allows to throw hard punches at your sparring partners, but not enough to hurt them or knock them out.

Even though the standard rule of sparring is to only match the level of intensity of your sparring partner, it is not advisable to spar with a fighter who will lose their temper and go all out wearing MMA gloves. These gloves are lightly padded, and won’t provide enough protection for full sparring.

What MMA Gloves Are Best to Own?

Regardless of whether you are or aren’t an MMA fighter, if you are training in MMA, you need to buy at least one pair of MMA gloves. Remember that despite using regulation MMA gloves in actual matches, MMA fighters usually use Western Boxing or Muay Thai gloves for sparring sessions because these gloves will provide the necessary amount of knuckle and hand protection.

Therefore, your first step prior to buying MMA gloves is buying a pair of Muay Thai or Western Boxing gloves to use for sparring. Once you have bought the Muay Thai or Boxing gloves for sparring purposes, then you should buy MMA sparring gloves. MMA sparring gloves are specially made with additional knuckle padding to prevent you from injuring yourself or sparring partners.

Additionally, if you are going to be an actual MMA competitor, you will need to purchase regulation MMA gloves to use along with the MMA sparring gloves. It is fine to use sparring gloves outside of actual MMA fights, it is very important to adjust to wearing legitimate MMA fight gloves before you use them in a real fight.

There are differences between MMA organizations regarding the allowed weight of regulation gloves. For example, regulation UFC gloves are 4 oz., but other organizations allow gloves as heavy as 6 oz.

MMA Glove Categories

The following are the three general types of MMA gloves.

MMA Grappling Gloves

These gloves are made especially for MMA grappling. Their purpose is to provide both finger dexterity in gripping and basic protection while hitting the bags and pads. The main distinction between grappling MMA gloves and other kinds is that the other kinds provide better finger movement, which facilitates better grappling capabilities, including clinch work.

If your concentration is on ground fighting rather than standup fighting, MMA sparring gloves will work better for this training than the other types of gloves. But don’t forget that any actual fighting will be done in regulation MMA gloves. That means that while it is nice to use MMA grappling gloves, you can’t become too enamored with them because you can’t use them in actual MMA fights.

MMA Sparring Gloves

MMA sparring gloves contain more padding (generally 7 oz. gloves as opposed to 4 to 6 oz.) and are made with greater impact protection. Not to be misunderstood, I’m not suggesting that it’s healthy to be hit full speed by a hand wearing a 7 oz. MMA sparring glove or a 16 oz. Western Boxing glove. You should not wear regulation MMA gloves when you spar, unless it is agreed upon with your sparring partner (and in that case, that means you probably don’t like each other and are willing to tee off on each other and not spar against each other in the future).

When you spar, you should buy the highest quality sparring gloves that fit your budget. It is unhealthy for you and your training partners to scrimp on getting a good sparring glove, and end up with a cheaply made glove that can lead to you and or your partner being injured. Remember that money well spent saves later trouble, and in this case, injury.

MMA Competition Gloves

Competition gloves are the ones used in live MMA fights. They weigh 4 oz. and provide security from hand injuries. They are not designed with any thought of safeguarding your opponent’s health and               wellbeing. You can consider engaging in extremely limited sparring wearing these gloves in the weeks leading up to the fight so you can warm up to the actual fight.

However, you must pull back considerably on your punching power. Otherwise, you risk injuring your hand or the face of your partner. When engaged in actual fights, you will be mandated to use their approved brand of gloves. Therefore, you should find out what brand your MMA organization prefers, then buy the gloves and get some training time in them.

For instance, UFC fighters must wear regulation UFC fight gloves during every Octagon contest. Different MMA bodies might stipulate other types of gloves must be worn, so it is important to find out which gloves are required by which organizations.

Standard Boxing / Muay Thai Gloves

Even as a dedicated MMA fighter, there will be times when you will need to use regular Western Boxing and Muay Thai gloves. You will need to use these gloves to hit bags, pads, or if you want to Thai spar. Western Boxing gloves and Muay Thai gloves are not alike. Deciding what type of glove to use will depend on your martial art, your combat sport choice, and personal glove wants and needs.

Overall, I suggest you use Muay Thai gloves instead of Western Boxing gloves when supplementing your workout regimen. I recommend them because these gloves allow more flexibility to grip and clinch, but boxing gloves can’t do the same thing. The Thai gloves will allow you to work on clinching skills, like clinch technique, grabs, and knee strikes.

Choosing the Proper MMA Glove Size

After deciding which kind of MMA glove to use when you train, the next choice to make is to determine what size glove is best for you. Buying too large gloves means that your hand will shift constantly inside the glove, likely leading to you injuring your hand while punching. On the other hand, buying too small a pair of gloves will cause your hand to feel constricted and confined.

To determine the proper size MMA Glove for your hand, take a tape measure and measure the width of your hand.

Each glove manufacturer displays their glove size system. Therefore, check each manufacturer’s measurement system to choose the correct size. Usually, small handed men and women will want to choose the small size, and average hands will need either the medium or large size. Big guys with huge hands will need to use Extra-Large or larger. (Brock Lesnar uses 4XL gloves, which are the largest size on the market, and he squeezes his hands into those gloves. He has asked for 5XL gloves, but they don’t make that size right now).

The important thing is to use the correct size chart that corresponds to the manufacturer of the glove you want to buy so you will select the proper MMA gloves for your hands.

The Best MMA Gloves

Since we have thoroughly discussed the factors to review when considering buying MMA gloves, now we can examine specific gloves. I suggest that review these products on Amazon to learn more about them and to read product rankings and comments for yourself.

What Makes Me an Expert on MMA Gloves?

Why should you listen to me? It’s a fair question given that people can write whatever they want and pass themselves off as experts. First, I’m able to write this piece because I’ve conducted a lot of time investigating and examining MMA gloves, as well as looking which gloves other fighters use. Second, I have lots of firsthand experience with MMA gloves.

Yes, I’m not writing based just on research. I have personally used numerous gloves for various combat arts during the last decade.

I’ve have fought in MMA, Muay Thai, and Western Boxing, and trained in Brazilian Jujitsu, so I’ve tried and learned about equipment from these sports. I fought in MMA several years ago. I lived in Thailand, trained in Muay Thai, fought seven times in actual Thai matches, and have trained in and fought in actual Western Boxing matches.

Given my research and experience, I have a good basis for knowing which gloves work best, which gloves work for which combat art, and which ones work best for certain training facets of each sport. These are not the words of someone who is a writer, and not a fighter. Most of my recommendations are gloves that I have owned and used.

Having said all of that, let’s get down to business and talk about specific MMA gloves.

Best MMA Sparring/Training Gloves

Venum Elite MMA Gloves

These MMA gloves are the top choice for a great MMA sparring gloves,

Differing from most gloves brands that make their gear in China, the Venum Elite gloves are made by hand in Thailand, assuring you of the highest quality on the market.

These gloves are made with real leather, and they feel as good as they look. However, their best feature is additional knuckle protection. This lessens the chance of you hurting your hand.

These gloves weigh 7 oz., which is a safer weight for sparring, unlike the typical 4 to 6 oz. gloves. These gloves are great, and provide an awesome level of comfort and hand protection.

My Recommendation: The Venum Elite gloves are a must buy for any MMA fighter who is going to spend significant time sparring.

Anyone training in MMA and regularly sparring needs correct MMA sparring protection. It is too dangerous to use 4 oz. regulation gloves. It is a foolish practice. It is too easy to go too hard and hurt yourself and someone else. The Venum Elite provide outstanding security and reasonable pricing.

MMA Sparring Glove Alternative Pick

Hayabusa Tokushu Hybrid 7 Oz. Gloves

The Hayabusa Tokushu are a fantastic sparring glove. These gloves work as a hybrid glove that comes with added pad material for security. Because of the extra padding, they work well when you want to spar, or hit the bag or pads.

The Hayabusa Tokushu Hybrid is solid for grappling because the fingers have great freedom of movement. I can’t give them the sparring edge over the Venum Elite gloves. The Tokushu are a versatile, catch-all glove. The awesome thing is that they weigh 7oz., and are padded enough to work as a sparring glove. That means that they work as a substitute for the just good for sparring Venum Elite.

Best MMA Professional Gloves

UFC Official Fight Gloves

If you aspire to fight as a professional in MMA, you should purchase a pair of UFC gloves. Since the UFC organization is the pinnacle of the sport, those are the gloves you would have to wear if you reached the highest level.

In addition to the natural attraction of the UFC name, their gloves are manufactured with the knowledge that the best fighters in the world will be wearing them, so you will get good use out of them. Even if you aren’t a fighter, but a huge MMA supporter, you are likely interested in buying these gloves.

Generally, these are solidly constructed gloves with a spectacular fit and appearance. Any fighter who plans to fight in MMA will probably desire them. Even so, most MMA companies have weight restrictions for their gloves. Therefore, check to make sure that your presiding MMA company allows the UFC gloves size in their matches.

My Recommendation: Get the UFC brand gloves, whether you’re a serious MMA competitor or just a fan.

If you are working your way up the MMA ladder and you’re serious about being the best, or you’re just a fanboy or fangirl who watches every match, buying the UFC Official Fight Gloves is a no brainer. You should not train wearing the UFC gloves unless you want to grapple. They weigh only 4oz., and that is not enough protection to prevent you from hurting your partners. Accordingly, only wear MMA training gloves when you want to train, and use the UFC gloves only to grapple and spar.

Discount MMA Training Gloves

Everlast MMA Grappling Gloves

If you are like many people, as you consider purchasing MMA gloves, the glove pricing will be very important. A cheap glove option in the marketplace is the Everlast MMA Grappling Glove. This is one of many gloves that are crudely made in either China or Pakistan.

These gloves cost around $20 if you buy from Amazon. At best, these can be considered starter gloves. Buying these gloves will not lead to a satisfactory result for you unless cost is such an important consideration that it trumps all other factors.

Overall, Everlast is a cheaply-made, mass market product that is more concerned with sales than it is with quality.

My Recommendation: The Everlast MMA Grappling Gloves is not worth the little money they cost or the trouble they will bring by needing to be quickly replaced.

My advice to dig a little deeper in the wallet and buy gloves that cost a bit more, but will be a lot more reliable. It only cost $40 to $60 to buy a decent pair of gloves, so if that is an issue, MMA will likely bankrupt you, especially since MMA gym dues cost over $100 a month.

While most brands aren’t necessarily cheap in cost, they are also not cheap in construction or quality. I have found Everlast to be one of the worst gear brands, especially after buying some of their boxing gloves, which goes down as one of the worst buys I’ve ever made.

Overall Best MMA Gloves

Hayabusa Ikusa MMA Gloves

Hayabusa’s Ikusa Gloves are gloves that deserve your attention, particularly if you need new gloves and want to get the most for your money.

Yes, you could purchase Everlast or another cheapskate manufacturer’s glove, but if you ever wore a pair you would immediately notice the quality and attention to detail. Hayabusa is considered the leading MMA gear brand, and it is because they have been around a minute and their products are all well-made.

Their gloves are uncomplicated and uncompromising. The design is so good that it is almost a reason in and of itself to buy a pair of Ikusas.

My Recommendation: The Hayabusa Ikusa are the best MMA gloves around. They are in a class by themselves.

These Hayabusa gloves are the right buy if you are in the market for a new pair. They provide all the necessities at a price you can afford. These are well-rounded gloves that you can use in most situations, including hitting the heavy bag and gentle sparring (the Hayabusa Hybrid 7 oz. gloves are a better option to use for full-on sparring).

Miscellaneous MMA Gloves

The increasing popularity of mixed martial arts has led to many established Western Boxing and Muay Thai gear companies, as well as other sports gear brands, to starting making MMA gloves. These products are extremely hit or miss. You should leave these brands alone and buy your gloves from the established MMA gear brands. The simple logic behind this advice is that it is always better to buy a product from someone who specializes in that type of product rather than buying from someone else who has been specializing in another type of product, but sees dollar signs and begins to make what’s new and hot, but not something they know how to make.

My opinions on some of the other MMA gloves available:

  • Ringside Combat Sport MMA Gloves – This company has made gear for both Western Boxing and MMA for a while. At $30, they have an ordinary appearance, but they provide a decent glove for the price. I used some of these gloves for a while. They weren’t spectacular, but okay.
  • RDX MMA Gloves – RDX are based in England and for a company that began by manufacturing Western Boxing gloves, they have achieved a lot of notice. They are rated well online. The price isn’t bad, and the glove itself is a middle of the road quality glove. They work very well when you want to grapple and generally train.
  • Fairtex MMA Gloves – Fairtex make the world’s best Thai fighting gloves. However, their MMA gloves are not up to speed. Buy them last if you buy them at all.
  • Title MMA Gloves – Title is known for making excellent Western Boxing gloves. They are not likely to be considered a quality MMA glove maker. Ever.
  • Adidas MMA Gloves – Personally, I think that anyone who buys MMA gloves from a tennis gear maker gets what is coming to them. However, I don’t want you to break your hand or someone’s face. Please don’t bother.

Conclusion

As someone who is training in MMA, you should own two specific pairs of gloves. One pair are good size Western Boxing gloves and using them for serious sparring and working a loaded heavy bag. The other gloves are a pair of MMA gloves best used when you want to light spar and grapple.

Remember, don’t used MMA gloves for serious, prolonged sparring. If you do, you are risking serious injury to yourself and training partners. For sustained sparring, use full sparring equipment to protect your hands, head, and face. Take care of these details so you can train without worrying about inflicting damage on yourself and others.

The Venum Elite gloves work great when you need to spar or train. Increased padding helps you to punch harder and not hurt your training buddies.

Don’t buy a pair of discounted, lousy gloves online. They are easy to find, but not worth the trouble. Buy something good to start, and you won’t have to do so later after being disappointed and possibly injured with something better suited to use as a hot pad.

Hear me out. I used to go the cheap route, and eventually, I got tired of throwing good money behind bad merchandise. If you buy cheap, you replace it sooner than later. Better to not do that and get something great that will last a long time.

A serious athlete should use serious equipment. Buy a good pair of MMA gloves. You won’t regret investing in proper training, and the health and well-being of yourself and others.

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