There’s not denying that gloves are an essential part of MMA.
However, finding the right pair can often be pretty difficult.
The best MMA gloves will provide your hand with support and protection, whilst not restricting your ability to move. Similarly, they'll be manufactured from durable and flexible materials that allow your hand and fingers to move freely.
In this article we will walk you through the entire buying process.
From discussing the different types available, to analysing the different types of gloves, we’ve packed this article with all the information you need.
This article is going to be divided into three sections; sparring, competition and grappling. Each section will look at the best gloves for that category. You can jump to each section below:
What Are The Different Types Of MMA Gloves?
A typical pair of sparring gloves will weigh around 7oz and feature extra padding around the hand and knuckle. Similarly to boxing, most MMA sparring gloves can have a grip bar that helps the wearer form a fist when they strike. Unfortunately, this makes them less than ideal for grappling,
If you do decide to spar using this 9oz gloves, make sure it’s a light sparring session. This is due to the fact that they can still cause cuts and bleeds fairly easily, which for obvious reasons should be avoided if you’ve got an upcoming fight.
As such, if you do want to spar using MMA gloves, it is important that you seek out a high quality pair with sufficient padding. Alternatively, you could opt to spar in regular boxing gloves, which I’m sure your partner would prefer.
Below is a video that displays the difference between MMA gloves and boxing gloves.
As the name suggests, these are when competing. Competition gloves have significantly less padding than sparring gloves and usually weigh 4ounces. Due to this, when wearing competition gloves, wraps/ inner gloves should also be worn in order to avoid sustaining too much damage to your hands.
The gloves themselves have separates finger slots and are designed to allow maximum hand and finger movement, allowing you to both grappling and strike effectively.
Depending on the organisation running the competition, a specific brand of MMA glove may required. As such, it’s a good idea to find out what brand you will be competing in and buy a pair to train with. If you want to spar with these on, make sure it’s an extremely light sparring session, going at a maximum of 40% intensity.
This will allow you to familiarise yourself with how the gloves feel, how they allow your hands to move and any other differences between them and your regular pair.
Also called training and bag work gloves, this style is designed to allow maximum finger and thumb mobility, whilst still offering a decent amount of protection. For example, they often have segmented finger holes that allow the wearer to maintain a grip on their opponent.
These types of gloves are great for an MMA fighter looking to train their ground game and grappling when sparring. Word of warning though, don’t get too comfortable wearing them as you will be competing in 4oz that may not offer as much finger mobility & protection.
What Makes MMA Gloves Different?
The first thing you will notice is that they’re significantly smaller than both Muay Thai and Boxing Gloves. Due to this, they’re also a lot lighter, usually weighing between 4-7oz depending on the type of glove.
This lightweight design means that there’s significantly less protection offered to both your hand and your opponent.
Therefore, the impact from a blow using an MMA glove is much more likely to cause a cut than with boxing and Muay Thai gloves.
Gloves designed for MMA also open fingered and designed to allow maximum mobility in both the hands and fingers. This allows the wearer to effectively take hold of their opponent when grappling, which is of course a key component of mixed martial arts.
What To Look For
When trying to determine the best gloves for MMA, a number of different aspects should be taken into consideration.
The material used to construct your the gloves will have a major impact on their quality, protection and lifetime. The top MMA gloves will be manufactured using 100% genuine leather as this tends to be tougher and last longer than synthetic gloves. Having said that, some companies such as Venum use high quality synthetic leather that is virtually identical to the performance of genuine leather and is slightly cheaper.
Another thing to bear in mind is where the product is manufactured. For example Thailand is known for manufacturing high-grade MMA and Muay Thai gear that lasts for an exceedingly long time. The company Fairtex is a prime example of this; their products are manufactured in Thailand and are world-renowned for their quality.
Often, brands will make use of layered foam padding located around the knuckle, hand and sometimes the thumb. It's best to find gloves that have durable padding and be able to withstand constant use for many months. It’s especially important that your sparring and competition gloves offer high quality padding, as this is when you will be striking the most.
Most models implement a Velcro wrist strap to keep them in place. Again, the best MMA gloves will have Velcro that is able to withstand constant use over a prolonged period of time. You will find that the Velcro on cheaper gloves beings to wear down more quickly, making the strap less effective and allowing the glove to come loose.
The amount you pay for your gloves will have a direct correlation with their quality. Cheaper gloves may seem like a good idea to save money, but will wear down quicker and need replacing a lot sooner.
Top MMA Gloves For Sparring At A Glance
Venum Impact Sparring Gloves
RDX MMA Sparring Gloves
Combat Sports Gloves
Everlast MMA Striking Gloves
Venum Impact – Top Class MMA Fighting Gloves
Manufactured in Thailand using premium semi-leather, the Venum Impacts are incredibly long lasting. In fact, I know a couple of guys who have had these going on 6 or 7 months now and they still look pretty fresh (maybe a tiny bit smelly).
One thing I love most about these is how Venum has managed to find a great balance between mobility and protection. For example, they feature both finger and thumb sheaths that allow you to move your fingers pretty freely, as well as delivering great all round protection.
Finger mobility isn’t too important with this type of glove due to the fact that it’s designed for fighters looking to develop their striking in a simulated fighting environment.
Double layered padding designed to absorb the shock from your strikes and blocks is located around the wrist and knuckle. This padding provides fantastic joint protection with no sacrifice to the gloves deliverable impact.
They make use of a double hook and loop closure system that offers improved stability and mobility to the wearers’ hand and wrist. Finding a pair with a solid closure system is incredibly important, as having to constantly adjust your gloves during sparring is a massive pain for both you and your partner.
The Venum Impact Sparring Gloves are available in two design variations and weigh 7oz, which is pretty much standards.
All in all, you’ll struggle to find better a better pair of MMA sparring gloves both in terms of quality and value for money.
If you want to find out some more information, head over to our full Venum MMA Gloves review.
RDX TSR – Best Cheap Gloves For MMA Sparing
If you’re looking for the best cheap gloves for MMA, look no further. The RDX MMA Sparring Gloves are manufactured using Maya Hide leather that’s incredibly durable and super long lasting.
Their multi-layered, gel integrated padding covers the knuckles and the side of the hand with additional block padding over the wrist. The gel padding is longer lasting than regular foam padding, which can become compressed from repetitive impacts.
This gel padding also makes them one of the best MMA gloves for heavy bag drills. However, they do have their limitations and are not has protective has heavier, more densely padded gloves.
Their insides are lined with moisture wicking micro fabric that prevents the build up of sweat. This can cause them to stink and create a build up of bacteria, neither of which is ideal.
Also, their Velcro wrist strap is pretty high quality, although it is one of the areas I think the RDX gloves could be improved. I feel as though the Velcro wears down slightly quicker than with other models.
Interestingly, the gloves have a pretty innovative design, especially considering the specialised thumb enclosure that protects your thumb and allows you to maintain a solid grip of your partner.
I also love their Palm-O design, which is essentially an open palm design. This allows for unrestricted hand movement as well as preventing a build up of sweat inside.
All in all, the RDX Sparring Gloves are not bad at all, especially considering how cheap they are. We've also got an in-depth RDX MMA gloves review if you want any more information.
Combat Sports Training Gloves
The Combat Sports Sparring Gloves are fantastic for MMA training. If you’re looking to do some light sparring, their 7oz weight and protective padding is more than sufficient to protect your hand and training partner.
As I mentioned earlier, this should definitely be a light sparring session, as despite the added protection, can still cause cuts and bruises pretty easily.
This pair in particular are well suited for MMA practitioners looking to develop their striking. Although the 2inch thick padding offers great protection, it can make it hard to fully extend your fingers. This in turn can make it hard to initiate a clinch or form a tight grip on your partner.
As such, if you’re looking to develop your grappling game, check out one of the grappling models mentioned later in this article.
Everlast Striking Gloves – Crazy Cheap, Not The Best Quality
Despite having a reputable name in the boxing world, Everlast are not known for manufacturing high quality MMA gear. They do however deliver an affordable pair of gloves that are perfect for a beginner who may not want to make a large investment straight off the bat.
You can boil the Everlast gloves down to two main talking points; protection and quality.
In terms of protection, these Everlast's do a fantastic job. They have thick, double layered padding located on the knuckles, thumb and even features block padding on the wrist.
Unfortunately, when it comes to quality they’re not the best. If you’re training 3+ times a week continually, you can expect the synthetic leather to start cracking about 4 or 5 months down the line.
Now you’re probably thinking why the hell am I recommending these to you? Well, I’m recommending these to beginners who are looking to get a pair, solely for sparring for a reasonable price.
If it turns out you love MMA and want to invest in higher quality gear, you can. If it turns out that MMA isn’t for you, you haven’t wasted a tonne of money on equipment.
Overall, these are a great pair for beginners who are looking to get started in mixed martial arts. We've also discussed some other awesome Everlast options in our Everlast MMA gloves review if you want to check that out.
Top MMA Competition Gloves
Venum Undisputed 2.0 Gloves
Hayabusa Kanpeki T3 Gloves
UFC Official Gloves
Venum Undisputed 2.0 Gloves – Top Class MMA Fighting Gloves
The Venum Undisputed 2.0 Gloves are an extremely popular choice amongst fighters competing in MMA. Very few competition gloves are able to rival the sheer quality that Venum deliver with the Undisputed 2.0’s.
The high quality genuine Nappa leather for example, guarantees they'll last a long time, as well as feeling insanely comfortable. It’s worth noting that these gloves will have a bit of a ‘break in’ period, where they feel a bit stiff, however once you’ve trained in them for a couple of weeks they’ll start to loosen up.
As I mentioned earlier in this article, a tell tale sign of high quality gloves is where they’re manufactured. Surely enough, the Venum Undisputed 2.0's are made in Thailand, renowned for its high quality fight gear.
The multi layered padding offers great protection to your hand whilst maximising the impact of your blows.
All in all, you can feel confident entering the octagon with these bad boys on. The Undisputed 2.0's by Venum truly deserve the number one sport on our list of the best MMA competition gloves.
Hayabusa T3 Kanpeki – Incredible Quality, Pretty Expensive
I’m a massive fan of Hayabusa’s Kanpeki fight gear. The stuff looks frikin’ awesome and definitely feels as good as it looks.
Unfortunately, as with all Hayabusa gear they’re pretty expensive. Costing just under $90, the T3 Kanpeki's are the most expensive pair on our list. You do however get what you pay for and the T3 Kanpeki's are exceptionally well built. In fact, it’s not unheard of to have these gloves for over a year and still not need to buy another pair.
This is due to the fact that they’re manufactured using 100% premium full grain leather that’s durable, tough and incredibly long lasting.
A lot of people attempt to save money by investing in cheaper, synthetic leather gloves. These start to crack after a while and will inevitably need replacing. You can save yourself the money and the hassle by investing slightly more upfront and getting a high quality pair such as the Hayabusa Kanpeki T3's.
The inside of the gloves are lined with antimicrobial fabric that prevents the build up of bacteria’s and helps to prevent them from building up a nasty smell. Hayabusa also have their own-patented Dual-X closure system that both secures the gloves firmly to your hand and offers your wrist added protection & support.
Although costing slightly more than other models, there’s no denying that the Hayabusa Kankpeki T3’s are one of the best MMA gloves currently available.
If you like the design of the Kanpeki T3’s but are put off by the high price tag, you should consider the regular Hayabusa T3's. They’re the exact same, however are manufactured using slightly less premium materials, therefore are cheaper by about $30.
We've discussed the T3's and some other option in our full Hayabusa MMA gloves review if you want to check that out.
Venum Attack MMA Gloves
Up next we’ve got the Venum Attack Gloves. These are a top class pair of competition gloves that are an extremely popular choice amongst MMA fighters.
As with a lot of Venum Gear, these are designed and manufactured in Thailand using high quality Skintex Leather. Although this is a form of synthetic leather, it’s surprisingly durable and lasts for a long amount of time.
The multi-layered shock absorbing foam provides a good amount of protection to your hand without taking too much of the sting out of your strikes. They also feature a padded thumb sleeve that provides an extra bit of protection when striking.
Venum are known for releasing high quality, yet affordable products and their Attack gloves are no exception. Costing less than $60, they offer insane value for money without sacrificing quality.
UFC Official MMA Fight Gloves
As you would expect from the Official UFC Gloves, these are incredibly high quality. Their 4oz competition gloves are exactly the same as the ones worn by fighters competing in the UFC.
Manufactured using genuine leather with multi-layered padding, every element of the UFC gloves has been designed with performance in mind.
They feature an open palmed and open thumbed design, allowing for maximum finger and hand mobility, which is essential when inside the octagon.
These are undoubtedly one of the best MMA gloves for competing, however depending on who is organising the event, you may not be allowed to wear UFC branded gear.
Hypnotik Pro – Great Value For Money
Hypnotik are another incredibly popular brand of MMA gear whose reasonably priced products have become a common site in gyms across the country. Their Pro's for example, are an ideal companion for your battles in the octagon.
The Pro's feature a multi-layered high compression padding that protects the knuckles and segmented thumb sleeve. The addition of the segmented thumb sleeve paired with the open palm design allows for maximum finger and hand mobility.
The inside of the glove is also lined with moisture wicking material that prevents the build up of sweat and odour (which we’ve all had, let’s be honest).
Unfortunately, there aren’t any other colour options available, which is one of the few downsides to the Hypnotik gloves.
Best MMA Gloves For Grappling
RDX MMA Grappling Gloves
RDX F12 MMA Gloves
Everlast Pro Gloves
RDX T2'S – The Top MMA Gloves For Grappling
RDX have upped their game recently and have released a number of high quality gloves ideal for different aspects of MMA.
These for example, are manufactured using genuine leather materials as well as the companies layered gel technology. The gel protection provides more shock absorption to the wearers’ hand whilst still delivering a high impact blow to your opponent.
You will notice that their padding is slightly larger than that of their competition gloves we just discussed. However, thanks to its triangular open palm design and flexible materials, your fingers are able to move freely and form a strong grip on your partner.
Their best trait though has to be the price, for such a decent quality pair, it’s an absolute bargain!
Moving onto the next RDX set of gloves on our list. Believe or not, the F12's are even cheaper than the previous RDX pair we just discussed.
This is due to the fact that they’re manufactured using slightly less premium materials. For example the RDX F12's are made using Maya Hide synthetic leather. Don’t be put off by this though as I’ve used these gloves a number of times and was surprised how durable they felt. Just be aware that they may not last quiet as long as a genuine leather pair.
As well as this the RDX F12 gloves utilise traditional multi-layered padding as opposed to the gel padding seen in the RDX gloves we just discussed. This again causes the gloves to be slightly cheaper.
If you’re looking to a cheap pair of grappling gloves you should definitely consider the RDX F12’s.
Everlast Pro Style MMA Grappling Gloves – Cheap Grappling MMA Gloves For Beginners
As I mentioned earlier in the article, Everlast aren’t exactly known for their high quality MMA gear. However, their grappling gloves are incredibly cheap and as such are a great option for beginners.
If you unsure if MMA is something you’re going to stick with long term, buying a cheap pair of gloves may be the best option. If you do decide to take it more seriously, you can always invest in a better quality pair further down the road.
Having said that, the Everlast Pro's aren’t terrible and are more than adequate for beginner grapplers still learning technique.
For example they feature a new ergonomic design that improves both comfort and flexibility.
Their inside is also lined with moisture wicking materials to prevent the build up of sweat and odour.
Venum continues to be one of the industries leading manufacturers in high quality MMA gear. They have a wide range of products covering an even wider price range. Whether you’re a newbie or an MMA veteran, you can’t go wrong with Venum gear.
Hayabusa manufacture some of the best MMA gear on the market. Although their products tend to be on the pricier side of things, your guaranteed a high quality piece of gear that will be with your for endless hours of training.
Combat sports originally started out as an online retailer, stocking an array of different MMA brands. As of 2003 they begun to manufacture their own products and over time and become one of the go to brands for MMA gear.
One More Thing on Sparring
I just want to express again that when sparring with 7oz gloves, you should not be going at full speed or power. Boxing/ Muay Thai gloves weighing 12-16oz are ideal for hard sparring sessions as they will allow you to strike faster and harder without damaging your partner.
Despite MMA sparring gloves having extra padding and weighing 7oz, they are still not ideal for intense sparring sessions.
Are They Good For Punching Bags?
If you’re looking to regularly train on a heavy bag I would invest in a pair boxing or Muay Thai gloves. Although some of the gel-padded MMA gloves are suitable for heavy bags, they will provide nowhere near as much protection.
This is especially true when you consider that you can end up striking a heavy bag hundreds of times in a single session. All that impact will start to have an effect on your joints.
So yeah, save the heavy bag for the bigger, more padded gloves.
Should I Train With These?
It’s usually a good idea to do some light sparring with MMA gloves. This is due to the fact that blocking and covering up is a lot harder due to their smaller time.
Make sure that it is light sparring though, as it’s a lot easier to get cut when using MMA gloves. This is particularly important if you have a fight coming up.
Thanks for taking the time to read our article on the best MMA gloves. I hope that you found it useful and if you have any questions, please feel free to drop a comment below.