When it comes to protecting your face, the best way to do that is to not get hit. Obviously in MMA that isn’t always an option. Your next best option is to invest in a high quality MMA head guard.
By wearing headgear, you will greatly reduce the number of scratches, bruises and trauma taken to the head.
As with buying any form of safety equipment, plenty of time should be spent finding the best MMA headgear that provides you with the best amount of protection, without having a negative effect on your performance.
Comparison of Our Top Picks
If like me, reading isn't your think, then check out the comparison table below of our top picks.
Hayabusa T3 Headgear
Venum Challenger 2.0
Hayabusa Kanpeki Headgear
Venum Elite Headgear
Cleto Reyes Headgear
Hypnotik Pro Headgear
Does Headgear Prevent Concussions & Why Do We Wear It?
The amount of protection that headgear offers fighters is a topic up for debate. There’s no denying that headgear helps to prevent damage such as bruising and cuts to the face, however whether or not it helps to prevent concussions is still unclear.
Although Studies have shown that wearing a set of headgear can greatly reduce the impact felt on the brain, not everyone is convinced. Olympic Boxing for example, changed their rules so that protective headgear is no longer a requirement for competing as of 2013.
Considering most MMA practitioners have a regular job to attend on a day-to-day basis, turning up to work the next day with a bloodied face isn’t always an option. Investing in MMA headgear will allow you to spar freely, without sustaining too much aesthetic damage.
Most gyms will allow the individual to decide if they want to wear headgear or not, with some fighters wanting the extra protection and others deeming it unnecessary.
In a lead up to a fight, most MMA fighters will want to wear headgear to prevent them from sustaining any cuts. This is due to the fact that many superficial cuts and bleeds can result in a bout ending early as well as seriously impeding your ability to see.
By wearing headgear in the lead up to a fight, your face will be in better condition, with less chance of sustaining a potential fight-ending bleed.
For more information regarding whether or not headgear can prevent concussion, check out the video below by the Economist.
What to Look For in the Best MMA Headgear?
Of course, the main reason you purchase headgear is for protection. Therefore, this should be your number one priority when you’re looking to invest in headgear. The best headgear will offer all around protection, to both your face and the back of your head.
There will always be a trade off between the amount of protection your headgear provides, and the amount of manoeuvrability that it allows. Thicker headgear will offer more protection; however will have a negative effect on both the speed and dexterity of your head movement.
Stability & Visibility
One of the main reasons people don’t like to wear headgear is due to the fact it can slip and have a negative impact on your visibility. That is why the best headgear for MMA will be extremely stable on your head and will be designed to allow the wearer to see freely.
As well as this, oversized padding located on your headgear can again affect your ability to see, even if you’re headgear stays in place perfectly. You will be extra susceptible to strikes coming from your peripherals, for example hooks, uppercuts and leg kicks.
This in turn can result in receiving more strikes and therefore more damage, than if you were not to wear any headgear at all. This is the one of the major discussion points in the debate between wearing headgear and not.
Quality & Material
When investing in a piece of protective equipment, you should pay special attention to the material used. Reinforced stitching and genuine leather are tell tale signs of high quality headgear for MMA.
There are also two main types of padding that you will need to choose between; foam padding and gel padding. Foam padding can slowly loose its protection over time; due to repeated blows, the cushioning can become compressed. Where as gel padding has the ability to maintain it’s cushioning over prolonged periods of time, even if it sustains a high number of blows.
By investing in top quality headgear with gel padding, the chances are you won’t need to buy headgear again for quite some time. The downside to this is that they tend to be slightly more expensive, however in the long run they tend to be cheaper.
The amount of money you pay will tie in closely with the overall quality of the headgear. Cheaper headgear may seem like a good idea, but they will undoubtedly be worse quality, offer less protection and have a far shorter lifetime than that of high a quality, more expensive headgear. The best quality headgear will undoubtedly be more expensive; however will last a lot longer.
Depending on what martial art you are competing in, you may be required to wear USA Boxing certified headgear. If your headgear is USA boxing certified, a sewn on label will be located inside the headgear. Even if you aren’t planning on competing, the certification is a good indicator that the headgear is built to a high standard.
Chin Straps & Laces VS Velcro
One important aspect to take into consideration when looking to buy MMA headgear is the type of closure systems used. For example, the chins trap could either be Velcro or make use of a buckle. Buckle chinstraps tend to be studier and come loose far less often than Velcro.
The top closure system is equally as important as the chinstrap. A lace up top will provide much more stability than a hook and loop closure system.
It is important that you chose headgear with high quality straps so that they do not come loose when you are sparring/ competing. If your strap does come loose, this could cause the headgear to slip, providing less protection and could also seriously impact your ability to see.
Pros & Cons of Wearing MMA Headgear
Best MMA Head Gear List
Right, I think it's about time we crack on with the list.
Hayabusa T3 Headgear – The Best Sparring Headgear For MMA
First up on our list of the best MMA headgear is the Hayabusa T3 headgear. Hayabusa are a well-known manufacturer of an array of high quality MMA equipment, with their T3 headgear being an incredibly popular choice amongst MMA practitioners.
The Hayabusa headgear sports a low profile build that is both lightweight and flexible. This low profile design allows the wearer to deflect strikes with ease and also provides an unobstructed, wide field of view.
As I mentioned earlier, you should pay close attention to the headgears closure system, which is where the Hayabusa headgear really comes into its own. The T3 headgear makes use of a T-cross strap system that is both comfortable and keeps the headgear extremely secure. This is closure system is the best in the business and will keep your headgear fastened during intense sparring sessions.
The Hayabusa T3 is one of the most protective MMA head guards available. The T3 headgear sports full-face coverage alongside an integrated chin cup, offering wearers an unrivalled amount protection.
What really surprises me is how Hayabusa have managed to offer so much protection whilst keeping the overall size of their headgear to a minimum. This is something that is incredibly important when looking to invest in MMA headgear.
The headgear itself is manufactured using pre-curved materials, resulting in an extremely ergonomic design that fits comfortably around your head. This design also adds to the stability of the headgear, as it doesn’t slip at all whilst sparring, even when you begin to perspire.
Hayabusa has made use of mesh ear holes and an open top design in order to maximise air circulation. This in turn makes you cooler whilst sparring, resulting in less sweat that can cause your headgear to slip.
In terms of materials used, Hayabusa have gone all out. They’ve implemented a VYLAR exterior shell that has been scientifically proven to be crack, abrasion and tear resistant.
Similarly, the XT2 lining used posses’ antimicrobial technology that reduces the odour of your headgear. This XT2 lining also features themoregulating properties that helps keep you cool whilst training.
The Hayabusa T3 headgear is available in an array of colour variations, so you’re bound to find one you like.
The only real downside to the Hayabusa headgear is the price; unfortunately they are one of the more expensive items on our list. Although expensive, the Hayabusa T3 headgear is made to an exceptionally high standard and will last you for an extremely long time.
Venum Challenger 2.0 Headgear – Best Value For Money MMA Headgear
Up next we’ve got the Venum Challenger 2.0 headgear. This is easily one of the best head guards for MMA and is significantly cheaper than the Hayabusa headgear we just discussed.
The Venum Challenger 2.0 headgear is designed to provide a substantial amount of protection to the wearers’ most sensitive areas, such as the temples, chin, nose and cheek. Although offering a high amount of protection, the headgears’ padding is designed not to obstruct the wearers’ field of view, allowing you to spar freely an avoid strikes coming from your peripheral vision.
Venum have made use of an ultra-lightweight design that allows you to move your head freely, which of course is vital when dodging strikes. The protective foam used by Venum is tripled layered in order to absorb a high amount of impact and to dissipate the force felt on your face.
Located at the back of the headgear is a Velcro strap that does a surprisingly good job of staying secure, even in rigorous training sessions. Although the Velcro does to a pretty damn good job, it’s still not as effective as the t-strap closure system seen on the Hayabusa T3 headgear.
One of the only downsides of the Venum Challenger 2.0 headgear is the fact that it’s manufactured using synthetic leather. Although Venum specialise in using high quality synthetic material, it won’t be as long lasting as genuine leather products. This isn’t too big of a deal as Venum products are known to last for a long time, however is still something that should be taken into consideration.
Despite this, you’ll struggle to find a better value for money headgear than the Venum Challenger 2.0.
Hayabusa Kanpeki – The Best Of The Best, But Expensive!
The only reason that the Hayabusa Kanpeki headguard doesn’t have the number one spot is down to the price. These are the best of the best when it comes to MMA headgear, however will set you back a fair chunk of change, that’s almost treble the price of the Venum Challenger we just discussed!
This price tag seems extra expensive when you consider that the Kanpeki is exactly the same as the Hayabusa T3 headgear, except manufactured using 100% premium full-grain leather. Although the genuine leather material is both incredibly long lasting and protective, it seems like a pretty dramatic increase in price.
Nonetheless, the Kanpeki is still one of the best MMA headgear, despite its’ high price.
For example, the Hayabusa Kanpeki headgear features a super low-profile design that maximises strike deflection. This low profile design also means that the padding won’t affect the wearer’s ability to see.
Similarly to the T3 headgear, the Kanpeki features a T-cross closure system. This keeps the headgear securely fasted during intense sparring sessions with minimal slippage. The headgear’s contoured material creates an ergonomic design that provides a comfortable and secure fit, again preventing the headgear from slipping even in intense situation.
The Kanpeki Headgears’ interior features XT2 lining that possesses antimicrobial technology, which prevents the growth of bacteria and minimises odour.
Although expensive, the Hayabusa Kanpeki Headgear is easily one of the best MMA head guards currently available. It’s protective, made using high quality material and is incredibly long lasting. Well worth the investment!
Venum Elite Headgear
Moving onto the second Venum model on our list, the Elite Head Guard. As well as having a badass name, the Venum Elite is one of the most popular head guards in MMA.
This is due to its’ reasonable price tag, high quality build and fantastic looking design. The Elite headgear is actually hand made in Thailand where some of the best fight gear comes from.
The headgear itself is manufactured using ultra lightweight, semi leather material. This lightweight build allows the wearer to move their head freely and with no adverse effect to their speed.
When it comes to protection, the Elite headgear has you covered (literally). It's made using triple density contoured foam that is designed to dissipate the shock felt from a strike. The foam padding covers all sensitive areas of the face including chin, temples, forehead and nose.
The open top design paired with the headgears’ mesh material provides ventilation to the wearers’ head. This keeps you cool whilst sparring, which in turn reduces the amount that you perspire.
The headgear features a 2 way hook and loop closure system that securely fastens the guard to your head.
Overall, it’s easy to see why the Venum Elite is such a popular choice; it’s extremely protective and looks awesome! Not only is the Venum Elite one of the best MMA head guards for sparring, but it also provides a great bang for your buck.
Cleto Reyes HeadGear
While the Cleto Reyes Headgear is designed for boxing, it's definitely more than adequate for MMA, especially if you're working on your striking game.
I won't say too much about this, as we've got a full Cleto Reyes Headgear review you can check out.
That said, the quality of this headgear is pretty much unmatched by any brand. Cleto Reyes themselves are famed for their meticulous manufacturing process, releasing only equipment of the highest quality.
Their headgear maintains their reputation, being crafted out of 100% genuine leather, featuring a 3-point anatomical fit and a hook and loop closure system alongside an additional chip strap.
All of this put together makes one of the best fitting, most protective and durable pieces of headgear currently available.
The only downside, the price. Due to the astonishing quality of the Reyes headgear, it does cost a fair whack.
SANABUL ESSENTIALS MMA HEADGEAR - BUDGET FRIENDLY
As always with Sanabul, their headgear is one of the most affordable on our list. That being said, don't let the cheap price tag fool you, this thing's a beast.
The headgear itself is designed in order to provide the wearer with unhindered vision, whilst still offering ample protection to the cheeks and face. In order to do this, Sanabul offer their headgear in two sizes, allowing for the headgear to perfectly match the shape of your head. The two sizes are:
- Small/Medium: Head Circumference up to 22.25
- Large/ X-Large: Head Circumference 22.25" and up
In terms of design, the Sanabul headgear has everything you'd look for; plenty of protection, durable foam, and a hook and loop closure system to keep the headgear fastened to your head.
The only downside is that it uses synthetic leather, but when the rest of the brands are doing the same, it's not too much of a big issue.
What I like about this headgear is it's wide range of color options. This allows you to match it with the rest of your gear.'s aesthetic. I personally like to rock a black and red look, which fortunately, Sanabul have 🙂
All in all, a great piece of MMA headgear for an exceptionally affordable price.
Hypnotik Pro Max Head Guard – Best Cheap MMA Headgear
The final item on our list of the best MMA headgear is the Hypnotik Pro Head Guard. If you’re looking for the best MMA headgear that won’t break the bank, then the Hypnotik Pro Head Guard is a fantastic option.
As I mentioned earlier, with MMA headgear you get what you pay for. Although these aren’t the best headgear for MMA, they’re great value for money and will most importantly protect your face and head during sparring.
The Hypnotik Pro headgear is manufactured using synthetic leather that’s surprisingly pretty durable and lasts a decent amount of time. The headgear also makes use of high density EVA foam that’s designed to absorb the impact from high-powered blows.
A hook and loop closure system is located at the back that when paired with the non-slip fabric, does a great job at holding the headgear in place. With other cheap MMA headgear, you may find that it doesn’t stay in place very well. Fortunately with the Hypnotik headgear, this isn’t an issue.
If you’re looking for a cheap, yet protective headgear for MMA, the Hypnotik head guard is definitely worth a consideration.
Popular Brands of Headgear
If you haven't found a particular set of headgear that you like, below are some popular brands that most people tend to learn towards.
Venum are an extremely popular manufacturer of high quality MMA gear. They have become renowned for their affordable price tags, whilst not sacrificing quality in order to provide a cheaper product. As such, we often recommend Venum products to those who are new to MMA and are daunted by the sheer number of options.
The Hayabusa brand is world renowned for delivering the highest quality MMA gear. Their products tend to be expensive, however are always long lasting and built to an exceptional quality. There if often a debate between which brand is better, Hayabusa or Venum. In our eyes, Hayabusa are slightly better quality than Venum, however their products tend to cost more. If you’re looking for the best MMA gear, go for Hayabusa. If you’re looking for the best value for money MMA gear, then Venum is your best bet.
Below are some frequently asked questions surrounding MMA headgear.
How Do I Clean my Headgear?
Unfortunately, the chances are you can't put your headgear in the wash. To clean your headgear, use a damp cloth and wipe it down after every training session.
What Size Shall I Get?
Check out the sizing guide down below for the sizing of the most common headgear brands. If your desired headgear isn't there, check the brands website which should have a size guide for you.
Do I Need to Wear a Mouth Guard with Headgear?
While wearing a headgear will protect your face, it's unlikely it'll protect your mouth, or the bottom of your chin if you're on the receiving end of an uppercut. As such, It's 100% recommended you wear a mouthguard with your head gear. If you don't have a mouth guard yet, check out our list of the best mouth guards for MMA.
MMA Headgear Sizing Guide
Hayabusa – Most Hayabusa models are “One Size Fits Most” (OSFM). I personally have never had an issue with Hayabusa sizing, however if you have what you deem to be a ‘weird’ shaped head, make sure you can get a refund before you purchase.
Venum – Similarly to Hayabusa, Venum products tend to be “One Size Fits All” (OSFA). Again, if you’re unsure about whether or not they will fit, make sure you’re able to get a refund. 99.9% of the time you will be able to, just double check.
SANABUL - Sanabul offer their heagear in two different sizes: Small/Medium: Head Circumference up to 22.25, Large/ X-Large: Head Circumference 22.25" and up.
Best MMA Headgear Round Up
So, we’ve made it to the end of our article on the best MMA headgear. I hope that you’ve found it helpful and as always, if you’ve got any questions feel free to comment below.
Also, make sure to sign up to our newsletter for exclusive deals sent directly to your inbox!