If you ever plan on competing in MMA, one of the most important pieces of equipment you will own are MMA gloves.
And besides a mouthguard, your gloves are the only protection you will have while in the ring. While Boxing gloves are mostly worn during heavier sparring sessions, MMA gloves are used when you are working on MMA sparring and grappling…and of course while fighting MMA matches.
When you spar with MMA gloves on, it is a completely experience than with boxing gloves on. The difference in reach, timing, finger maneuverability, and padding is why it is very important for people who train MMA to get used to how MMA gloves feel while sparring, wrestling and clinching during training sessions.
Trust me, you don’t want to ONLY use boxing gloves for training then have a real MMA match while wearing MMA gloves for the very first time.
Now like all the fight gear products out there, there’s dozens and dozens of different MMA glove brands on the market. Realistically, I can’t give you a run down of every single brand and glove on the market right now. But I give you a selection of the best in terms of quality, features, and price.
Why Trust Me?
First off, I’m NOT someone sitting around cooking up fight gear recommendations who’s never trained or used these products before. I know my fight gear like the back of my hand. I’ve trained for years in MMA, competed at the amateur level in various MMA tournaments while using MMA gloves in training and in actual MMA matches. I also have a VERY good knowledge of Muay Thai, having moved to Thailand (where I currently live) to train and fight Muay Thai for the past five years. Currently, I’ve switched over to Western Boxing, which is my true fight passion. I know my fight gear and I know a shit load about gloves — and I’ve used and abused most of the glove brands (for both MMA, boxing, and Muay Thai) for years — both in training and during match fights.
Before I start talking about what you should look for in a good pair of MMA gloves, let me give you my top pick at a glance. Note that I keep this list current every couple months to reflect NEW MMA glove brands that have come out on the market.
Top Pick at a GlanceThe Best Pick"There’s a ton of MMA gloves on the market, but the Hayabusa is the best I’ve found. Comfort, protection, padding, and real leather make these a joy to use for training"
If you are looking to purchase a high quality pair of MMA gloves that have great reviews I recommend you take a look the Hayabusa Ikusa MMA Gloves.
When you are looking for a pair of MMA gloves the first thing you want to do is look for things that offer comfort, protection, quality and fit. The Hayabusa Ikusa MMA gloves fit this criteria by offering an extremely quality glove at a reasonable price.
These gloves are middle of the pack in terms of pricing, but they offer above average quality that you won’t expect in many gloves on the market. When you compare these gloves to the cookie cutter gloves like Everlast, you will be shocked at how much better they feel.
Hayabusa has been one of the top MMA brands for a long time because they offer quality products that last. This particular glove is one of the highest rated gloves on Amazon achieving the perfect 5 star rating.
If you need an MMA Glove than you can’t go wrong with the Hayabusa Ikusa gloves. These gloves offer everything you need in a quality pair of gloves and the price is right.
MMA Gloves vs. Muay Thai/Boxing Gloves
MMA gloves are small open fingered gloves that are designed to allow the fingers to move freely with the gloves on. The open fingered feature gives MMA fighters the ability to grab on to their opponents and hold them into different positions.
The smaller size of the MMA gloves also decrease the weight of the gloves. While typical Muay Thai competition gloves are between 8-10 oz in weight, MMA gloves will range from 4-6 oz in weight for competition. This means that there is WAY less protection around the knuckles when you punch.
Less protection means that your opponents will feel the impact of your punches even more than regular gloves. A light jab will end up feeling much worse in MMA gloves than regular Muay Thai gloves. For this reason most people who train MMA do not spar with MMA gloves unless they are working specifically on realistic MMA sparring in a controlled environment.
Let me repeat, if you wear MMA gloves, you won’t be sparring as hard (with your hands) as you would if you did Muay Thai sparring or Boxing Sparring.
If you want to ‘spar’ with MMA gloves, then you should generally opt for the specific MMA gloves made just for sparring.
Use MMA Sparring Gloves for MMA Work
MMA sparring gloves are usually around 7 oz in weight, which is still far less than the typical 12-16 oz gloves that Muay Thai fighters use in sparring. MMA sparring gloves do add more cushion toward the end up of the glove, to give fighters a little more absorption when they take impacts from the punches.
Use Boxing / Muay Thai Gloves for Regular Sparring
If you plan on regular Muay Thai sparring for MMA work, you will need a pair of quality Muay Thai gloves for your training. Most people who train MMA will have a pair of regular sparring gloves and then have a pair of MMA gloves in addition to their regular Muay Thai gloves.
Only Use MMA Gloves for Light MMA Sparring and Grappling
I know this may sound logical to many of you reading this article, but you should never use MMA gloves when you are hitting a hard heavy bag or Boxing/Muay Thai sparring. If you are smashing a hard heavy bag with 4 oz gloves on, your knuckles will get injured and you may even injure your wrist over a long period of time.
The reason why people use bag gloves is because they offer extra protection to your knuckles and more wrist support. Even though you may be able to hit a bag a few times, if you do it over a long period of time you are asking to get injured. Train smart and your body will last much longer. Trust me, the moment you hit 30 years or older you will start to feel the impact of years of punishment on your joints.
Materials Used in MMA Gloves
Most MMA gloves are made from either genuine leather or synthetic leather. If you purchase gloves that are made with synthetic leather the prices are almost always cheaper and the material feels a little more cheaper. Synthetic material is designed to last a little bit longer, but it doesn’t have the same premium feel that leather has.
Gloves made with 100% leather are more expensive, but in my opinion they offer the best quality that you can have. The official UFC gloves are made with genuine leather, so I would expect most people would enjoy these gloves the most.
All MMA gloves have a velcro enclosure to ensure that you can easily put on and take off the gloves with the help of a training partner. This means that you need to get the right size glove for your hand, if you want to have the best use from the gloves.
The padding inside of the gloves are made with layered foam to provide the wearer with more protection around the knuckles. This may change depending on the brand that you choose, but most gloves use some type of foam as the padding in the gloves.
As a general rule of thumb, if you purchase cheap gloves they are made with lower quality material. When it comes to training gloves I always recommend spending a little bit more money to get something that will last you years. Otherwise you will end up with a bad MMA glove that you have to use until you decide to change it.
The top end MMA gloves are usually manufactured in Thailand because they offer the highest quality products for Muay Thai/MMA equipment. The lower end products are made in China and Pakistan, but they will never advertise where the products are made.
Sparring with MMA Gloves
The first thing you should be aware of when working with MMA gloves is you should never spar hard with your training partners using competition gloves. If you plan on sparring hard use BOXING gloves, otherwise you will end up with unnecessary concussions and injuries that can easily be avoided.
Even though MMA sparring gloves are designed to have more padding than the regular competition gloves, they still do not provide enough for hard sparring.
With only 7 oz of padding (typical sparring glove size), you are far more likely to suffer an injury to you or your training partner if you go hard. This is why you need to learn how to control your power and only work on your techniques when you are sparring.
If you want to work on your pure striking skills then you should be sparring with 12-16 oz Muay Thai Boxing gloves on. This will ensure that you can punch your sparring partner hard, without actually injuring them or knocking them unconscious.
While you should only go as hard as your sparring partner in training, I would avoid sparring anyone who is going to lose their temper and start sparring hard with MMA gloves on. MMA sparring gloves are still light in padding and don’t offer nearly as much protection as you need to spar hard.
What Kinds of Gloves Should You Own for MMA?
Whether or not you plan on competing in MMA or not, if you train MMA you should probably own a pair of MMA gloves. Keep in mind that even though MMA fighters use MMA gloves in competition, almost all stand up sparring is done with regular gloves to ensure that they can protect their knuckles and hands from damage during the sparring session.
So before you purchase a pair of MMA gloves, make sure you own a pair of Muay Thai or Boxing gloves for your training first. After you own a pair of regular Muay Thai gloves for your stand up sparring, the next pair of gloves you should purchase is MMA sparring gloves. These gloves are specifically designed to provide you with extra protection around the knuckles so you don’t injure your sparring partners.
If you are planning on competing in MMA, you may want to consider buying a pair of competition MMA gloves in addition to your regular sparring MMA gloves. While it is good to train with sparring gloves on, you may want to know how to feels to wear real competition gloves so you don’t have any surprises before your fight.
It is important to know the rules of the organization that you are competing under to know what weight you need to have for your competition. The UFC gloves are 4 oz, but other gloves may be up to 6 oz in weight.
The Types of MMA Gloves
Here are the 3 broad categories of MMA gloves.
MMA Grappling Gloves
These are designed specifically for MMA-style grappling. The idea here is to offer a balance between thumb mobility for grappling while still allowing decent protection for bag work and pad work. The key difference between grappling mma gloves and the other types of mma gloves is there is usually more finger mobility, making grappling a bit easier (especially in the clinch).
If you are more focused on your ground work than stand up work, then these types of gloves will give you a bit of an edge when it comes to this sort of MMA work. Keep in mind though, you will be fighting (if you are aiming to fight) in the competition style gloves. So don’t get USED to the better finger flexibility offered by grappling gloves, since you won’t be actually fighting in them.
MMA Sparring Gloves
These are slightly more padded MMA gloves (usually 7 ounce INSTEAD of the 4 – 6 ounce weight) with more shock absorbing materials engineered to soften impacts. Don’t get me wrong, you still don’t want to get a full on punch with a 7 ounce MMA Sparring Glove vs 16 ounce Boxing Sparring Glove. So don’t use regular MMA gloves for sparring, unless you really hate your sparring partner. Because you are sparring, I recommend you opt for the best quality sparring gloves you can afford. It is not in your interest, or your partner’s interest to go cheap with sparring gloves and get a less padded, shoddy quality version. So think QUALITY here.
MMA Competition Gloves
These are the gloves you will use during actual MMA bouts (i.e. cage fights). These are 4 ounce gloves and are designed to basically protect your hands from breakage, but not your opponent’s face. If you want to do LIGHT, technical sparring the week or two before your fight, then you can use these gloves with a partner to simulate a match as close as possible, but you’ll be going 40 percent power. If you fight, you will likely be using a specific brand or glove that’s been approved by that organization. So you’ll need to check to see what glove brand you’ll be wearing, and train in those. For example, UFC fighters will be wearing the official UFC competition gloves when they fight. Other organizations may have their own branded gloves or approved-brand of gloves that are used. So do the research here.
Regular Boxing / Muay Thai Gloves
These are your standard boxing gloves or Muay Thai gloves. You’ll be using these to hit the heavy bag or to do pad work or for Muay Thai sparring work. There is a difference between boxing gloves and Muay Thai gloves. What you choose depends on your style of fighting, your sport choice, and your preference on how your glove to feel. In general, I would recommend the Muay Thai style of boxing glove over the pure western boxing glove when it comes to MMA training. The reason being that Thai-style gloves offer better finger mobility for the clinch, while boxing gloves do not. This means you can work on clinch (such as clinching, grabbing and throwing knees) while sparring with Muay Thai Gloves.
How to Choose the Right MMA Glove Size
Besides choosing the style of glove that you want for training, the most important step is finding the right sized glove. If you purchase gloves that are too big, your end will end up moving all around in your glove and you can end up injuring your wrist when you punch. Conversely, if you get a pair of gloves that are too small they can end up being a very tight squeeze.
Note, if you are interested in getting a pair of boxing gloves then I also suggest you read my comprehensive article about How to Choose the Best Boxing Gloves on how to pick out the perfect pair of BOXING GLOVES (as opposed to MMA Gloves).
In order to measure the correct size MMA glove you will need to get a tape measure and measure the circumference of the widest part of your hand. Here is an example of measuring the circumference of your hand.
Every brand has their own sizing chart so make sure you look up the specific brands measuring chart before you pick the size. As a general rule of thumb, men with small hands and women mostly go with small size, while medium/large is for the average sized hands. Guys with really large hands will obviously need to go with X-Large or higher.
Just make sure you look up the sizing chart for the specific gloves that you purchase to make sure that you get the right sized gloves for your hands.
The Best MMA Gloves
Now that we have discussed some important factors to look at when deciding your MMA gloves, we can now look at some of the good options that are available. I would recommend you look up the reviews in the links provided to get more information about the specifics of each glove.
Why Trust Me?
So why trust me? A valid question in the era where anyone can write anything about everything without actually knowing anything. Besides actually spending dozens of hours researching gloves for this article, looking at what fighters use, I actually know about gloves myself.
In my case, I have a lot of hand’s in (pun intended) experience with gloves. I’ve used many different gloves for many different fight sport — DOZENS of gloves in fact, the past 10 years.
I’ve trained in both pure MMA, Brazilian jujitsu, pure Muay Thai, and pure Boxing — and I’ve used and abused gear for all 4 sports. I used to fight MMA a couple years ago. I’ve also done years of Muay Thai here in Thailand (and have fought 7 pure Muay Thai matches), and I’ve trained for years with Western Boxing (and have fought pure Boxing matches). So look, I have a pretty good idea what gloves are good and what gloves are best suited for each sport and for each specific training in each of those sports. I’m not some guy who’s never trained recommending gloves for fighters here. Indeed, I’ve owned many of the gloves I recommend. So take that as my resume if you wish!
Let’s get to this then.
The Best MMA Glove
If you are looking an overall great pair of MMA gloves that will suit your training needs, the Ikusa gloves from Hayabusa is definitely a pair of gloves you should consider.
While you can definitely purchase cheaper gloves from brands like Everlast, these gloves feel completely different. Hayabusa has been the leading brand of MMA equipment because they offer great quality products that last.
The overall design of the gloves is simple and clean. This design adds to the overall quality and feel of the gloves and in my opinion makes it one of the top choices on the market.
If you need an MMA Glove than you can’t go wrong with the Hayabusa Ikusa gloves. These gloves offer everything you need in a quality pair of gloves and the price is right. You can use these for everything, including bag work and light sparring (though if you want to spar specifically, we recommend you pick up a pair of Hayabusa Hybrid 7oz gloves)
Best MMA Sparring Gloves
If you are looking for a quality pair of MMA gloves to use in training, the Venum Elite MMA gloves is the best choice available.
Unlike the other 95% of brands out there that manufacturer their products is China, the Venum Elite gloves are hand made in Thailand to ensure you have the best quality possible.
I’m typically not a fan of Venum for most of the products — they are a middling quality brand that make decent, but usually not great, fight gear.
However, a few of their products do stand out when considering the price you pay and the overal quality. One such product is the Elite MMA gloves.
The Elites are made with genuine leather and have the feel of premium gloves. The most important feature that these gloves offer is the extra padding around the knuckles of the gloves.
If you ever plan on sparring with MMA gloves on, you need to use 7 oz gloves to ensure you prevent people from getting injured using the gloves. The Venum Gloves are excellent and provide a great fit and support for the wrist.
If you train MMA and want to spar, you need to use proper MMA sparring gloves. Using 4 oz competition gloves is something that nobody should do because it is careless and can lead to injuries. These Venum Elite gloves offer great protection and reasonably price.
Alternative Best MMA Sparring Glove Pick
Hayabusa Tokushu Hyrbid 7oz Gloves. These are a great, great glove that you can also spar with. They are a more hybrid glove with extra padding. As such, you can use them for sparring, for light heavy bag work, and for pad work.
There is a lot of flexibility with the thumb and fingers, so you can use them for grappling. I don’t recommend these over the venum for pure sparring, as these are a more generalist, do everything MMA glove, but they are 7oz and they have enough padding for sparring — so it’s a good alternative to the more specific ‘sparring only’ Venum glove.
Best MMA Glove for Fighting
If you plan on competing in MMA then I would recommend you own a pair of the official fight gloves from the UFC. Considering the UFC is the top level you can reach in the sport, these are the exact gloves that you will aspire to wear one day if you end up fighting at a higher level.
Besides the name of the UFC brand, these gloves are designed and made for the best fighters in the world, so you will definitely be able to get good use out of them. If you are a big fan of the UFC then you probably would want to own a pair of these gloves.
Overall, these are well-designed gloves that look and feel great. Anyone who plans on competing should own an official pair of these gloves. That being said, not every organization will allow any sized glove. So make sure you look up what your MMA organization allows to ensure you follow their rules and regulation.
Buy It………….If you are planning on competing at a high level
If you are a big fan of the UFC and you plan on competing in MMA then these gloves are for you. I do not recommend you train in these gloves unless you are grappling with them on. The 4 oz protection will cause injury if you hit your training partners at a hard pace. For this reason use MMA training gloves for training and only use these for when you are grappling or technical sparring.
Best Looking MMA Glove
Venum’s makes a very aggressive style glove with the Venum Undisputed 2.0 MMA Gloves. These are Venum’s best glove and pretty decent all round. I’d even say it’s one of the best MMA gloves on the market, if you like the flashy aesthetic.
I’m more of a fan of the basic stylings — likely from training Muay Thai in Thailand for so long with Thai branded products which are functionally designed with minimalistic designs.
However, even I have to admit these gloves look pretty good. They offer great wrist support, great padding and are made from real leather (many of the MMA gloves are made from synthetic leather).
A worthy MMA glove, if you like the design.
Best Budget MMA Glove
Combat Sport MMA gloves have been around for a long time. These were my first pair of MMA gloves that I bought back in 2006. The design is pretty much the same as they were a decade ago and there have been no real material improvements.
But if the wheel ain’t broke, don’t fix it: these gloves last forever. You’ll get years of regular use out of them. They may not be fancy or flashy and they may not feature new technology, but they work and they last.
Get these if you want a long, long lasting pair of no-nonsense MMA gloves.
Some of the other brands make better (and fancier) gloves, but these are your best value glove.
Cheap Training MMA Gloves
Everlast MMA Grappling Gloves
When it comes to buying a new pair of MMA gloves, you will probably look at the price of the gloves as one determining factor. One pair of gloves that you may come across is the Everlast MMA gloves or a number of other extremely poorly made gloves from China/Pakistan.
The Everlast MMA grappling gloves will set you back around $20 if you order them from Amazon. This is what I would consider an entry level pair of gloves. If you buy these gloves you won’t be overly happy with the purchase, but they might pass if you are not a picky person.
Normally I would say get these gloves if you want to go cheap. But you can buy Combat Sport Pro’s for $20 bucks and those are much better gloves and made from real leather.
In general I would consider Everlast to be the McDonald’s of MMA Gear, with their products being sold in most large department stores around the country.
Don’t Buy It……….unless it is the only option available for you.
Spend a little bit more money and get a better glove. If you can’t afford the 40-60 dollars for a quality pair of gloves, then MMA is not the sport for you (considering you spend 100+ a month for an MMA Gym membership fee likely).
There are brands out there that are a little bit more expensive, but offer a much better product that you will be happy with. I try and avoid Everlast as much as possible, ever since I bought a pair of terrible boxing gloves from them over a decade ago.
Other MMA Glove Brands?
It seems with the spectacular rise of the sport of MMA, every company that used to specialize in boxing and muay thai are releasing ‘MMA gloves’. And while these products may be quality (or not), I generally recommend you stick to the established MMA brands that have been engineering MMA gloves for years. The reason is these gloves are usually better suited for MMA than say a Muay Thai company suddenly churning out MMA gloves when all they know is Muay Thai gloves.
Here are some of the other gloves brands and my thoughts:
Ringside Combat Sport MMA Gloves (they’ve been making quality boxing gloves and MMA gloves for a few years now. A bit boring on the design front but at 30 bucks, the best deal for quality basic MMA gloves. I owned a pair a few years ago and they are good, if boring )
RDX MMA gloves (they are popular on Amazon and the company is a legit, established UK company that started off making Boxing gloves. They are priced for ultra budget and make mediocre (but cheap) Boxing gloves, but a rather good MMA glove, especially for grappling and general training).
Fairtex MMA Gloves (amazing Muay Thai gloves, but MMA gloves are not their specialty. I recommend you look at the other brands over Fairtex)
Title MMA Gloves (a good boxing glove brand, but MMA, meh)
Adidas MMA Gloves (hell no! They make good shirts, shoes, and tennis rackets. Not MMA gloves).
When it comes to selecting gloves for MMA training you need to own at least two pairs of gloves. Your first pair of gloves should be a large pair of boxing gloves that can be used for heavy boxing sparring and hitting a hard heavy bag. The second pair of gloves you should own are some smaller MMA sparring gloves that can be used for light sparring and grappling use.
You do not want to spar hard with MMA gloves on because it is easy to get hurt or injured during the sparring process. If you want to spar hard, make sure you are wearing proper face protection and equipment that keeps you safe and protected.
In terms of quality, I think Venum makes an excellent glove that can be used for sparring and training. The extra padding can allow you to punch a little bit harder, without hurting your partner.
While you may be tempted to buy under $10 gloves online, I would recommend you spend more money to get a pair of gloves you will be happy with, not a lousy pair of gloves just to save a couple bucks.
Trust me one this — I’ve gone cheap in the past on gear, and it’s not worth it. You end up spending MORE money after you toss your cheap gear into the garage and upgrade to something proper. And YOU WILL do this eventually.
So if you plan on taking your training seriously, get a pair of MMA Gloves that you will be happy with for years to come.