This is our updated 2017 guide to the best MMA shorts. We’ve gone through a number of different MMA shorts and tested them out to see which ones are the most durable, comfortable, and just plain awesome to train with.
We give your a detailed guide on how to choose the right MMA shorts for you and some recommendations for the bests shorts you might want to consider buying.
What is the MMA short?
An essential piece of training gear for MMA fighters is a good pair of MMA shorts. Unlike Muay Thai shorts, that are designed for only stand up striking, MMA shorts are built for rolling around on the mat.
I remember I ordered my first pair of MMA shorts back in 2005, when I signed up to my first gym. This would be the first time I ordered something online, so it was a pretty big deal for me. Back then, Full Contact Fighter and Sprawl were very popular brands among the fighters, so it was logical that those were the first pairs of MMA shorts I owned.
At the time, I didn’t realize that MMA shorts were made with specific features for MMA. I just thought that they were cool looking shorts that I should wear in training.
What Makes MMA Shorts Different than other Shorts?
Have you ever wondered what made MMA shorts different from other types of shorts out there? Why couldn’t you just pick up a pair of board shorts from the store and use them for MMA?
Board shorts often come with metal loops, accessories attached, pockets, zippers and other features that are all banned in MMA and NO GI tournaments. The reason these things are banned is simple: they can often be dangerous when you are rolling around on the ground with your sparring partner.
The metal eye loops and zippers can easily cut and injury your opponent if it gets in their eye or pulls their skin when you make a quick move. Exterior pockets in shorts can result in fingers getting caught and twisted up in the pockets, making them also dangerous to roll with.
MMA shorts are specifically made to stay on your while you are rolling around the mat. If you try rolling with regular shorts on you will find that your shorts get rolled up, and your underwear will be exposed. MMA shorts also have a lace drawstring that has a Velcro strap to ensure it doesn’t move around when you are making a move.
The better MMA shorts have a stretch material around the groin area to give you some more flexibility and comfort. This is good if you wear a groin guard and knee a bit of extra room down there. Most MMA shorts also have a small slit on the side of the leg to allow more space for kicking.
MMA shorts are designed for MMA which includes grappling. If you are a stand-up striker and don’t train NO GI, then you are better off just going with a pair of Muay Thai or Kickboxing shorts. However, if you ever plan on rolling around on the mat, make sure you have a good pair of MMA shorts.
MMA Shorts vs. Compression Pants
Should you use MMA shorts or compression pants when you train? What about both? There have been some studies that have indicated that wearing compression shorts can increase the temperature of your skin and increase circulation, which in fact may help reduce injuries during training.
As you get older, the first thing you will notice is that your body becomes more sore and tired after training. Compression shorts and pants can help you increase the circulation in your legs which can, in fact, lead to better muscle recovery.
I’m a huge fan of compression wear myself and use it often in my own training (running, boxing, Muay Thai).
Compression pants are particularly popular among NO GI (Freestyle wrestling) practitioners because it can prevent skin rashes and direct contact with your rolling partner. This makes it less likely to transmit skin infections such as staph or ringworm that are commonly found in gyms.
Another added benefit of compression shorts is that they can help guys keep their ‘package’ in the right place. If you don’t have compression underwear on, you will find that rolling around is very uncomfortable.
However, you also show ‘everything down there’ with compression wear if you do NOT wear a groin cup. So keep this in mind.
I know a lot of guys who wear compression pants/shorts underneath their MMA shorts. This offers them the benefits of the compression shorts, while at the same time sticking keeping with their MMA pants. If you wear compression shorts under your MMA shorts, you can get the benefits of both.
Should you wear compression shorts or MMA shorts? The answer depends on you. If you live in a cold climate weather it gets chilly at your gym; compression pants may help you stay warm and keep your muscles loose, which may help reduce injuries.
Why not wear both if you need to?
As such, I do recommend having a good pair of compression pants or compression shorts and a more loose style MMA short. You can use either as the situation demands or wear them together to get the benefits of both (though at the cost of slightly more weight).
Types of MMA Shorts
As of 2017, there are roughly three kinds of MMA shorts on the market.
Board Style MMA Shorts
These are probably the mosts popular design right now, and you see a lot of UFC fighters wearing the board-short MMA style. However, there are some differences over regular surf board shorts to make them suitable for MMA. As such, you don’t just want to wear your surf shorts for MMA training.
The typical features are the leg cut length which is about the knee length; the waist is usually secured with a velcro strap or draw string (made so they don’t scratch you or your opponent during a tussle). Some of the better models include a built-in internal or external pocket to hold mouth guards.
Vale Tudo MMA Shorts
These are pretty much compression underwear. They are designed to allow maximum flexibility and won’t restrict any leg movement. They also show…um…everything in full detail. We recommend wearing a groin cup beneath so your package is not a public thing in your gym. Some of the old-school pride fighters (like Wanderlei Silva) were famous for rocking the Vale Tudo shorts when fighting.
You can also wear special compression MMA shorts which take some of the old school vale tudo design but add more compression to them. Stuff like Skins and 2UX compression shorts are general compression shorts that you can wear to training.
For an actual MMA match though, I would stick with a vale tudo style made specifically for the fight. Compression shorts offer recovery benefits and can help stabilize your muscles when doing certain movements, but they can also restrict freedom of movement slightly, something you won’t want during a fight — even if it’s just a minor amount.
There’s a number of new styles of MM shorts that combine the Vale Tudo compression style with the Board Short style. Some of these designs are quite interesting and seek to offer the best of both worlds. They are usally a bit more expensive.
Things to Consider when Buying MMA Shorts
When it comes to choosing what MMA shorts to buy, it comes down to individual preference. To help make this choice easier for you, I will talk about a few Factors that you should consider when you are searching for a new pair of MMA shorts for your collection.
Type of MMA Short
You can choose either a board short style, a vale tudo compression style, or a hybrid style.
There are advantages to each. The mosts popular is the regular board style, but I’m personally more of a fan of the hybrid style which offers some compression benefits and the freedom of movement that it enables with some of the nice board short benefits.
Quality and Materials
The first thing you need to look at when buying a pair of MMA shorts is the materials used. The higher quality shorts made from brands like Hayabusa use high-quality materials that have stretch and allow more movement. These shorts are often made from poly-directional fabric that is designed to stretch and give you some room. This is a must have when you are on the mat training BJJ or takedowns.
Another tell sign of a quality pair of MMA shorts is the reinforced stitching along the seams of the shorts. This ensures the shorts do not rip when they are subjected to a lot of strain. The stitching is important because they need to be able to withstand the rigors of constantly pulling on the shorts.
The ties on quality shorts are designed to give you the right fit around your waist. They are always covered up so the laces do not get exposed. This is a standard feature in most MMA shorts that you don’t have to worry about.
There are some features that you should look for when choosing a quality pair of MMA shorts. One common feature that most shorts have is an elastic stretch along the crotch or groin area of the shorts. This stretch material allows you more room to move around when you are using the shorts.
The price of standard MMA shorts will range for $20 for the cheap stuff to around $70 for the better shorts. There is a night and day difference between the cheap MMA shorts vs. the better brands. If you want something that feels good and offers you comfort and longevity, get a quality pair of shorts.
I know you might get tempted at the idea of buying 3 pairs of cheap shorts to 1 expensive one, but I would rather have one good pair of shorts than a bunch of cheap crap. If you have 2-3 pairs of good shorts that is all you need for training. You don’t have to have more than that unless you like wearing a different pair of shorts during the week.
You can often tell a lot about a person by what they are wearing, so if you want to make a good impression on the people around you, make sure you are wearing a good pair of shorts. There are plenty of brands that offer mid-level shorts that have good quality at an affordable price. For between $30-40 you can get a decent pair of shorts that will last you.
The sizing of the MMA shorts is going to depend on the brand you select. Some brands use a Small, Medium, Large size chart while others use waist size charts. When you purchase a new pair of shorts, the manufacturer will have a list of the different sizing options.
I would rather wear a tighter pair of shorts, than shorts that are too big. So, if you find yourself in between 2 sizes, I would generally go with the smaller size unless you fit larger. Most of the time if you check people’s comments on Review sites like Amazon, you will find specific recommendations on sizing.
While I am not the type of person that only buys brand name stuff, there is a difference between brand name and no-name MMA shorts. The popular brands like Hayabusa and Venum have a reputation for making good quality shorts. If you buy shorts from one of these companies, you are likely going to get something you are happy with.
On the other hand, if you purchase a pair of MMA shorts from a No-name brand, the quality is usually less. Anytime a brand is trying to sell ‘cheap’ shorts; they do this by cutting quality. The more money you pay, the better-quality shorts you get because they can afford to use higher quality materials.
The Best MMA Shorts
When it comes to MMA shorts, there is no denying that Hayabusa produces some of the best shorts out there. Ever since Hayabusa came into the MMA scene back in 2005, they have been rapidly growing and improving their product.
The Hayabusa Metaru Performance MMA Shorts are the top of the line MMA shorts that offer great strength, durability, and comfort. The reinforced stitching all along the shorts ensure that you can take a lot of wear and tear without any tearing.
These shorts are equipped with an innovative tie system and an inner grip waistband to ensure that they always fit perfectly in place. The shorts are made from a stretch fabric with the side seams split to ensure you get full range of motion in grappling and when you are striking.
If you want to wear the top of the line MMA shorts, these shorts are a great choice.
These are the top of the line MMA shorts that offers great stretch and flexibility when you are grappling. These are shorts that are designed to be used and abused and will still look good as new.
Venum is another leading MMA brand that also produces high-quality products. The Venum Camo Hero Fight Shorts is made from premium materials and has a great camo design.
One thing I like about these shorts is the long slit on the side of the shorts, to give good flexibility when you are striking. The stretch material and reinforced stitching along the seams ensures that they will not rip on you.
The sizing with Venum shorts is by small, medium and Large, etc. so you need to find the size the corresponds with your waist size. Venum is a brand that makes excellent MMA equipment, and their shorts are no exception to this rule.
Buy It………. If you like Venum over Hayabusa
Choosing between Venum and Hayabusa really comes down to preference. Some people like one and others like the other. The both make really great quality shorts, so there is no wrong answer.
Best MMA Budget Shorts
If you are looking for a great pair of Muay Thai shorts at an affordable price, the Hayabusa Kyoudo fight short is going to be a great option for you. These shorts are made from mechanical poly-directional stretch fabric to give you the flexibility that you need.
Along the inner seam of the leg, there is a high tensile stretch panel to allow extra movement and flexibility around the groin area. This is great when you are rolling on the ground and need to lock your partner in a type grip.
Hayabusa is the leading MMA manufacturer because they produce products that offer excellent style, fit, feel and deliver on performance. Coming in at just under $30, these shorts are by far the best deal you can find online.
While the other premium shorts offer a little more features, you will be happy wearing these Kyoudo fight shorts on.
Buy It……. If you want the best value
These shorts offer you the best ‘bang for your buck.’ If you are looking for a more affordable pair of MMA shorts, you can’t go wrong with these shorts.
Best Compression Shorts for MMA (and General Training)
Compression gear has come a long way over the years. I’m a huge fan of compression wear and now pretty much only train Muay Thai and Boxing while either wearing compression pants or shorts and a compression short.
The benefits are:
- less soreness
- quicker recovery after training
I’ve noticed real benefits myself which is why I always wear such when doing a hard workout. Heck, I even have a pair of sleep-in recovery pants & shirts I wear to bed.
So I’m a big fan.
There’s a lot of different compression wear on the market — general compression wear, fight compression wear, budget compression wear. I’ve tried out quite a few compression shorts by some of the bigger brands. My favorite, hands down, and my go-to compression shorts are the 2UX.
They are the best on the market and offer, in my experience wearing them, the most compression while being constructed from the most durable material. You want durability since you’ll be washing these often.
Did I mention these are comfortable (while still being tight).
You have a couple options: the regular, cheaper model or the better model which has additional compression reinforcement. I recommend the better model (called the 2UX Elite MCS Compression Shorts). The additional compression makes a difference.
If you are going to wear compression stuff, you want it to offer the best compression possible rather than get a mediocre brand with minimal compression. Quality over price in this case.
I own these shorts I use them every single day (in fact, I had to buy two pairs to rotate them). These have changed the way I train and I’ve noticed I’m significantly less sore after a heavy training day when I wear these.
I use them for running, Muay Thai, and Boxing. I’ve seen many MMA fighters wear the same shorts during MMA training instead of MMA shorts.
Take my work: get them. The are worth the cost.
Best Grappling Compression Pants
If you are looking for a good pair of compression pants to use when you grapple, then check out the HELO-X Grappling pants by Anthem Athletics. These pants are made from lightweight, moisture-wicking, compression material that is perfect for anyone rolling around on the ground.
The waistband is dual-lock to ensure that it will fit properly and lasts. These shorts have been optimized for all the grapplers out there who are looking for something that they can take all the rigors of rolling around on the mat.
Compression shorts are great for grapplers because they can help you improve your blood flow and reduce injuries by keeping your muscles warm. These may be something that you want to wear underneath your MMA shorts if you like to grapple a lot.
These days, there’s also a lot of general compression pants on the market that are not specifically made for BJJ — you can use these as well, though for pure grappling, I would stick to a pair of compression pants designed specifcially for grappling over a general compression pant.
When it comes to choosing the right MMA shorts, it is important to choose a quality produce. There are a lot of cheap brands out there that make bad shorts but make a lot of sales because they are cheap. If you want a cheap pair of shorts, I recommend you check out the Hayabusa Kyoudo shorts.
For under $30 they will give you everything you want in a quality pair of shorts. If you want to get the best quality shorts, you can look at some of the top models offered by Hayabusa and Venum.
Quality is everything when it comes to buying MMA shorts. The last thing you need is to have your shorts tear when you are rolling around. Choose a pair of shorts that offers you comfort, strength, and flexibility that will make grappling a lot more comfortable.