There’s no denying that:
MMA is one demanding sport, for both the participants and their equipment. That’s why having the right gear is so important, as it allows you to feel as comfortable as possible and therefore perform at your best.
Whether you’re an MMA veteran or a beginner looking to get started, our list of the best MMA shorts has you covered.
In this article we’ll discuss a wide variety of shorts at a range of prices, providing you with all the information you need to make the best decision.
Lets get to it.
What Makes MMA Shorts Different To Other Shorts?
There are a couple of reasons as to why specialised MMA shorts are required when performing mixed martial arts.
Unfortunately, regular old sport shorts don’t cut it in the MMA world. It won’t take long for your long lasting Nike shorts to be in tatters after a few sparring sessions.
It’s completely normal and common to start MMA wearing regular sport shorts, but it doesn’t take too long to realise that a specialised pair will have to be ordered.
This is due to the to the fact that MMA shorts are built to last and endure the wear and tear that comes with practicing MMA. They are designed to allow the wearer to move freely, be flexible and of course, to look good.
MMA shorts usually feature a flexible gusset in the groin area. This allows the shorts to be a lot more flexible and provides the wearer with unrestricted movement. This of course is incredibly importance for both leg strikes and grappling. Similarly, most MMA shorts have a split seem it on each side of the leg that again provide the wearer with more mobility.
If you have ever trained wearing regular shorts, you’re probably aware that they don’t do a very good job of staying up, especially when rolling on the ground. This is again why MMA shorts are preferred, as they tend to have an inside drawstring and a Velcro strap to fasten the shorts in place.
Aside from the build quality and design of MMA shorts, they are also a lot safer than wearing regular shorts or board shorts.
For example, wearing regular board shorts with pockets poses a risk to both you and your training partner, as a finger or toe could get caught whilst you are grappling. Similarly any metal zippers and loops on a pair of shorts will again pose a danger to both you and your sparring partner.
For all of the above reasons, if you’re looking to compete in a MMA or No Gi tournament, specialised MMA shorts are a must.
Types Of MMA Shorts
MMA shorts have come along way from the regular board shorts and biking shorts they used to be. Manufacturers are now capable of delivering specialised clothing to maximize comfort, flexibility and range of motion.
There are a number of different styles of MMA shorts that can be boiled down to three categories, vale tudo MMA shorts, board style MMA shorts and hybrid shorts.
Of course, each type of shorts comes in their on variation depending on the manufacturer, with some coming down to the knee, whilst others barely making it half way down the thigh.
It is down to personal preference as to what style of shorts you wear. Finding a pair that gives you the most comfort and range of motion to allow you to perform at your best is a top priority.
Vale Tudo Shorts
Vale tudo shorts are very similar to regular compression shorts or pants and are designed to allow you to move faster when fighting with less friction.
Unfortunately, vale tudo shorts don’t leave much to the imagination and do require some level of bravery to wear. That being said, you can always buy compression shorts with a cup and use this to protect your modesty.
Board Style MMA Shorts
Board style MMA shorts are extremely popular and are frequently seen in professional fights on the UFC. These are designed based upon the traditional board shorts you would associate with surfing, however with some alterations that make them more suited for combat sports.
Board style MMA shorts are traditionally knee length and usually feature an internal drawstring alongside a Velcro strap. The waist also tends to be elasticated to ensue that the shorts say up whilst you’re training/competing.
As the name suggests, this is a mix of the two styles we have just discussed, resulting in a ‘best of both world’ type of shorts.
Blending the compression style of the value tudo design with the more modern board style MMA shorts, these hybrid shorts offer wearers comfort, flexibility and practicality.
The video below by MMA Gym Rat Reviews perfectly sums up the different styles and types of MMA shorts, give it a watch if you're interested.
What Should I Look For When Buying MMA Shorts?
As with most things in life, you get what you pay for with MMA shorts. You can expect to pay anywhere from $15 to $70 for a pair for shorts, with the lower priced items tending to lack in quality. The better quality MMA shorts however will cost more, but last for significantly longer.
If you’re looking to buy durable pair that are built to last, investing in a popular brand such as Hayabusa is always a good idea. You can expect to pay $40 and up for a good quality pair of shorts, but with these well-known brands, they tend to last significantly longer.
It really is a toss up between price and quality, invest in a more expensive pair and they’ll last a lot longer. Compared to a buying a cheaper pair that are likely to tear and be a lot less flexible.
This is something that will tie in closely with the price that you pay. The better, more expensive MMA shorts are likely to be made from flexible and comfortable materials.
It is important that the material of the MMA shorts does not restrict your range of movement and allows you to move unhindered. Typically high-end shorts will use poly-directional fabric and implement flexible gussets in the crotch area to provide plenty of movement.
Reinforced stitching along the seems is a clear indicator of a high quality pair of MMA shorts. Reinforced stitching will make the shorts more durable and last for significantly longer than cheaper pairs.
Sizing will vary from brand to brand, with some companies opting for a small, medium and large sizing and others using a more traditional sizing chart (measured in inches).
Buying the right size MMA shorts is incredibly important. The last thing you want is for your shorts to keep coming down whilst your training, or even worse whilst competing. Alternatively, shorts too small may restrict your leg movement, which will undoubtedly have a detrimental effect on your performance.
When looking for a pair of shorts, pay close attention to the overall design of the shorts. For example, do they have an elasticated waist? What sort of closure does it have? A Velcro strap? Internal drawstring? Both?
Similarly, shorts with split seems are becoming more and more popular for the amount of movement that they provide the leg. Fighters frequently implementing high kicks are particularly drawn to these types of shorts and for good reason.
The Best MMA Shorts Comparison Table
If you're looking to save some time, check out our comparison table below of our top picks.
List of the Top MMA Shorts (Board Style & Hybrid)
Ok, now we know what to look for in a solid pair of shorts, lets crack on with the list.
If you're looking for Vale Tudo/ Compression style shorts, scroll down, we've also compiled a list of our top picks down below.
Hayabusa Chikara 4 – The Best MMA Shorts
First up on our list of the best MMA shorts are the Hayabusa Chikara 4 fight shorts. Hayabusa are a well-known manufacturer of high quality martial arts gear and the Chikara 4 fight shorts are no exception.
Being the 4th iteration of their Chikara series, Hayabusa have been able to learn from their previous models and make changes accordingly.
All the seems of the Chikara 4 shorts have been reinforced, providing them with added durability. This is incredibly important is you favor throwing kicks, as shorts without reinforced seems stand a good chance of ripping.
As is common in a lot of MMA shorts, mobility and flexibility has been Hayabusa's primary focus. Stretch panels have been used in order to allow your legs to move freely and unrestricted. I've noticed cheaper shorts don't have this stretchy-ness to them, which can prevent your legs from extending all the way... not good if you want to throw a high kick.
Hayabusa have also implemented a slit down the side of each leg. Again, this has been designed in order to provide you legs with the highest amount of range.
With the use of durable fabric accompanied by a great design and affordable price tag, these are a great pair of shorts for beginner and experienced MMA practitioners alike.
VENUM OKINOWA 2.0 – GREAT ALTERNATIVE
If you’re not a fan of Hayabusa, then the Venum Okinowa's are a fantastic alternative. They're a short-cut hybrid style shorts that are perfect for both grapplers and strikers.
The shorts are made using microfibre materials that are both incredibly comfortable and lightweight. Split seems are also located at either side of the shorts that allow the wearer to move freely.
As with most high quality MMA shorts they feature an elasticated waist alongside 3-way closure system. This allows for a tight fit that isn't too restricting, or that rubs against the skin.
Not only are the Okinowa's comfortable and practical; they also sport a bold, sleek design that will have you looking good on the mat.
They're undoubtedly one of the best quality MMA shorts around and will serve you well for a very, very long time.
Venum Gladiator fight shorts - EXPENSIVE BUT GREAT
If the Okinowa's were a bit bold for your taste, the Venum's Gladiator fight shorts may be more suited to your style.
Manufactured to the high quality we have come to expect from Venum, the Gladiator's are an incredibly popular choice amongst MMA practitioners.
They posses all the tell tail signs of high quality MMA shorts that we discussed earlier and are manufactured using a 100% polyester micro fabric that is both lightweight and durable.
The shorts feature both a Velcro strap and an inner drawstring for maximum security. As well as this, the shorts also have reinforced seams that will increase their life span significantly.
In order to extend the wearers maximum range of movement, split seems are also located at either side of the legs. This allows for unhindered flexibility in the leg and hip region, which of course, is incredibly important.
Featuring a bold design alongside the classic Venum branding, these shorts are one of the best-looking, most practical items on our list.
RDX Board Style MMA Shorts
RDX are known to produce some insanely affordable fight gear, from gloves, to punching bags to MMA shorts. Although cheap, they're all built to a pretty great standard.
This reasonable price tag allows for those new to MMA to get their hands on high quality shorts, without having to throw down a large sum of cash.
RDX have implemented both a Velcro closure system, alongside a jaw string strap. These two combined allows the shorts to rest perfectly in place, without having to be adjusted. There's nothing worse than having to constantly pull your shorts up when you're training, especially if you're sparring.
The gusset of the shorts (crotch area), as made up of multiple panels of stretchy fabric. This in turn allows the wearer to move their legs freely, without being redistricted by their shorts. I'm pretty sure you could even do the splits in these things, they're insanely flexible.
These shorts have all the tell-tale signs of a high quality pair of shorts (maybe with the exception of the price tag). They've got reinforced stitching, split seems on the legs and are made from durable fabric.
All in all, they pretty much tick all the boxes when it comes to finding a great pair of shorts for MMA.
Elite Sports MMA Shorts – Crazy Value For Money
Next up on our list of the best MMA shorts are the Elite Sports shorts. If you’re looking for cheap MMA shorts but don’t want to sacrifice quality, the Elite Sports MMA shots are a great place to start.
Costing less than $20, no other shorts on the market offer value for money quite like it.
I’m not going to sit here and tell you that they’re as good quality as the Hayabusa and Venum shorts, because they’re not.
What they are though, are fantastic value for money and a great affordable option for those looking to make a start in MMA.
They are manufactured using tear-resistant 150GSM microfibre that is built to withstand the tough demands of MMA. The MMA shorts make use of a two-fold non-chaffing Velcro strap. As with most MMA shorts, they also feature split seems at either leg for improved range of movement.
Overall, these are pretty great value for money. Although they won’t last forever, they’re definitely one of the top MMA shorts for beginners. They’re cheap, reasonably high quality and also look pretty damn good.
Sanabul Essentials MMA Shorts
Sanabul continue to make waves in the martial arts community with their budget friendly equipment designed for experienced and beginner martial artists.
Their MMA Shorts feature reinforced stitching alongside durable, high quality materials. This allows the shorts to be extremely tear resistant, and last a long time before showing any sines of wear.
One feature that I'm not too keen on is the Velcro closure system. It's some what basic, however fortunately is paired with the draw string. When the Velcro starts to wear down, you'll be relying solely on the draw string to prevent them from falling down. That said, the Velcro seems extremely high quality, so that won't be for a long time.
Aside form this one detail, the Sanabul shorts do offer great value for money thanks to their reasonable price tag. They feature antimicrobial fabric, designed to keep the shorts clean and hygienic as to avoid any skin conditions such as ring worm.
As well as this, they've been designed to provide maximum leg dexterity, allowing kicks to be thrown with ease. The material itself has a stetchy-ness to it, making them both comfortable to wear and practical.
All in all, a pretty solid choice for anyone looking to buy a decent pair of MMA shorts on a budget.
Hayabusa Chikara 3 - NO LONGER AVAILABLE
UPDATE: THESE ARE NO LONGER AVAILABLE. INSTEAD, WE RECOMMEND THE CHIKARA 4, MENTIONED FIRST ON THE LIST.
The shorts themselves are made from high quality materials that are engineered to provide the wearer with both a wide range of motion whilst at the same time being incredibly comfortable.
Hayabusa make use of the latest CombatTech fabric to manufacture their shorts.
This fabric is both lightweight and durable and well exceeds the requirements needed for MMA. All the shorts seems are T3 reinforced, which dramatically increases their life span.
When training and competing in MMA, it’s vital that your shorts do not fall down. A Velcro waist strap is used to help the Chikara 3 shorts stay in place and prevent them from slipping. The Chikara 3 also feature split seems to allow the wearer an unrestricted range of movement.
Available in three colour variations; blue, black and red, it’s easy to see why they’re such a popular choice amongst MMA fighters.
Best MMA Compression Shorts
Ok, so now we’ve discussed some of the more traditional MMA shorts, we’re going to be looking at the best MMA compression shorts. As I mentioned earlier, these can be worn alongside regular MMA shorts or entirely on their own (depending on how brave you are).
I personally like to rock them both, especially if it’s during the winter. Again, it really is up to personal preference.
Before we begin, lets quickly touch again on the advantages of wearing compression shorts:
Best MMA Compression Shorts Comparison
Right, now let's take a look at some great compression shorts designed for MMA.
Diamond MMA Compression Shorts - THE BEST MMA COMPRESSION SHORTS
Moving on to the Diamond MMA compression shorts, another fantastic option for all MMA experience levels.
They may not look like much, but they're highly protective and build to last.
These shorts were actually designed by award winning designers at Stanford University and have been approved by doctors and urologists as the best groin protection on the market.
This is due to the integrated groin protection system that uses a built in 4-strap jock system that is designed specifically to house the Diamond MMA athletic cup. Unfortunately, this cup doesn’t come alongside the shorts, but again can be bought for relatively little.
You can also buy these shorts alongside the Diamond cup, which we've reviewed in our list of the best MMA cups.
The Diamond MMA compression shorts also feature an inside drawstring for the ultimate comfort and stability. These compression shots are a great option if you’re looking for a protective pair of shorts that are both comfortable and provide you with unrestricted movement.
Hayabusa Haburi Compression Shorts - Built in Cup Compartment
Hayabusa making yet another appearance on our list of the best MMA shorts. It’s safe to say that their compression shorts are equally as impressive as their regular MMA shorts.
The lightweight Thermawick fabric both maximises heat retention in your muscles and feels incredibly comfortable to wear.
As well as this, the Haburi shorts feature a Guardlock™ waistband and cuff, which prevents the shorts from slipping up and down whilst you’re grappling.
Located at the front is an integrated pocket that can be used to stabilise and adjust a cup inside of the shorts. Unfortunately, these don’t come alongside a cup, however you can pick one up on Amazon for relatively cheap.
If you’re looking for the best MMA compression shorts, then the Hayabusa Haburi will not disappoint.
Venum Gladiator 3.0 Vale Tudo Shorts
Up next we've got the Venum Koi 2.0 Compression Shorts, which are by far one of the coolest pairs on ours list. Don't worry though, these shorts aren't all style and no substance.
The Koi 2.0 shorts are made using moisture wicking materials that prevent your sweat from being absorbed into the shorts. This in turn keeps the shorts smelling fresh as well as hygienic, which reduces the chance of skin infections that are common in martial artists.
The print itself has been sublimated onto the shorts. Sublimation is a method of printing a design onto fabric, that prevents the design from running or fading. This allows the shorts to maintain their awesome aesthetic, no matter how often you train or how many times they're washed.
While the effectiveness of compression gear on an athletes recovery is a topic of debate, Venum have designed their shorts with compression technology nonetheless.
The elasticated waist of the shorts is designed to prevent them from moving around whilst your training. Considering these are pressed tightly to your skin, I doubt that would be an issue anyway.
All in all, these shorts look incredible and get the job done. What's more, they have a pretty reasonable price tag, making them a great option for anyone shopping on a budget.
Hayabusa Metaru 47
It still surprises me how cheap you can get your hands on the Metaru 47 shorts. Considering their quality, they offer insane bang for your buck.
One thing worth mentioning with these shorts is that their sizing is a bit strange. I've heard a few people say that these are a bit tight, even though they got their regular size. With that in mind, make sure you check out their size guide if you're interested in getting a pair, just to be safe.
In terms of quality though, there's really nothing to complain about. The shorts feature reinforced stitching, have a built in cup compartment and are made using anti-microbial fabric.
All in all, a great pair of shorts for an insanely low price.
2XU Elite MCS Compression Shorts - Great all round compression shorts
The 2XU Elite compression shorts are by far one of the most popular compression shorts for MMA around. In fact, a tonne of UFC fighters have been seen wearing them during training sessions.
I also own a pair, as do a lot of the guys at my gym.
Although they are one of the more expensive pairs on our list of the best compression shorts for MMA, they’re well worth the price tag.
They come in two colour variants, one all black design and the other black with gold trimmings. I personally love both designs and plan on investing in the black and gold pair very soon.
If you’re serious about using compression wear to help with faster recovery times, then 2XU Elite MCS compression shorts are a great option.
They’re made from the best quality material around and will last for a ridiculous amount of time. I’ve had mine for going on 9 months now and still no sign of wear, not even any fading and I’ve washed them god knows how many times.
I can’t stress enough how good these compression shorts are. The only reason they don’t have the number one spot is because they are significantly more expensive than the Hayabusa compression shorts we just discussed. If you have the budget, go for these.
Best MMA Compression Pants
Moving onto the final section of our article, this time taking a look at the best MMA compression pants.
Similarly to compression shorts, these can be worn alongside regular MMA shorts and offer much the same benefits as compression shorts, only longer.
Anthem Athletics MMA Compression Pants - Best Compression Pants For MMA
The Anthem Athletics MMA compression pants are made from lightweight and durable material that also features water-wicking properties.
As I mentioned earlier, this stops the fabric from absorbing any moisture.
If you’ve ever trained in a regular old tee shirt, you’re probably aware that this soon becomes drenched, heavy and uncomfortable.
This fabric prevents this from happening to the pants.
The compression material is designed to support your muscles whilst your train and help improve your recovery time. They are constructed using a multi-panel format, high density flat-lock stitching and a newly designed waistband to secure the compression pants in place.
The shorts design has been fully sublimated, which mean that it will never fade, crack or peel, no matter how many times you wash them. These are not only one of the best compression pants for MMA, but for all sports in general.
SANABUL MENS COMPRESSION PANTS
What we did before the days of Sanabul I really don't know.
They offer the most insanely affordable martial arts gear for a fraction of the price of their competitors. I've tried a few different pieces of their equipment and the quality blows me away. Admittedly, it's not the best out there, but for the price it's exceptionally good.
Just take these pants for example, they look great, are UV protection rated (didn't even know that was a thing), are made from durable material and have reinforced stitching. You really couldn't ask for more, especially considering these are the cheapest pair on our list!
That being said, I do have one slight issue with these pants, and that's the lack of jaw string. If you're training hard and start to sweat, there's a chance that these could start to ride up or slip down.
All in all though, these are a pretty awesome pair of MMA compression pants that'll definitely get the job done.
RDX MMA Compression Pants
The RDX MMA pants are another one of the best MMA compression pants and cost significantly less than the Anthem Athletics we just discussed.
Although cheaper, they’re actually pretty similar in quality.
With anti-microbial Dry-fit, 4-way stretch fabric, the compression pants provide you with an unhindered range of movement.
Continuous expansion panels are located on either side of the legs; this allows the fabric to stretch more freely and to allow you to move easier with less resistance.
The moisture wicking capabilities of the RDX compression pants make them extremely comfortable to wear for intense training sessions where you are going to be sweating buckets.
They also do a great job at maintaining your body temperature and keeping your muscles warm, which is great when training during the winter months.
If you haven't found a pair that you like from our list, check out some popular brands of MMA shorts down below.
You can probably tell from our list that Hayabusa are one of the biggest players in the MMA market. Although a lot of their equipment is fairly pricey, they're known to be built to an exceptional standard.
Their gear is always awesomely designed, often with a Japanese influence. As such, Hayabusa gear is designed to make you both look and feel good whilst training.
While MMA Diamond focus mainly on their MMA Cups, they do offer a pair of compression pants designed to house their cup.
These shorts are the best in the business, designed by MMA athletes for MMA athletes. They use nothing but the best materials, which show in the longevity and overall quality of their shorts.
Some people have dubbed Venom as a "Hayabusa Rip Off", but I couldn't disagree more. Admittedly, their products are priced in a similar region, but they easily match (and often exceed) Hayabusa in terms of quality.
Venum are known for their brash designs and heavy branding, which people either love or hate.
All I know is their gear rocks and definitely gets the hob done.
How Do I Wear a Cup With My Shorts?
There's two ways that you can wear a cup under your shorts. Firstly, is if the shorts have a built in cup compartment. If they do, simply put your cup in there and your good to go.
The second way is to buy a jock strap. You put your cup inside the jock strap, then put your shorts on over the top.
If you're wearing compression shorts, you may be able to get away with just putting the cup inside the shorts. That being said, there's a good chance you'll be adjusting during training, as it'll slip around a bit if there's no compartment.
How Do I Wash My Shorts?
This is really down to the pair of shorts that you've got. Check the Label and abide by it's instructions. I would however suggest not tumble drying your shorts, even if the label says you can.
I've dried shorts in the past and had them shrink on me, even though the label has said they can be tumble tried. I've learnt my lesson and just air dry them from now on.
Do I Need More Than One Pair?
This depends on how regularly you're training (and how regularly you do a wash). If you're only training once a week, you probably don't need two pairs. If you're training on a regular basis, it's good to have a couple of pairs to rotate between, whilst you wash the other.
How Do I Know What Size to Get?
The best way to know what size to get is to measure you waist. Then cross reference you waist size with the size chart that will be provided by the shorts brand.
MMA Shorts VS Compression Shorts/ Pants
Compression shorts are becoming more and more popular these days. So popular in fact, that it’s not uncommon to see people walking in the street with their compression pants under their shorts.
Many an athlete will swear by the improvement wearing compression gear makes to their performance. Although a matter up for dispute, wearing compression shorts has benefits in MMA that aren’t just performance related.
Compression pants and other garments prevent direct skin contact with your opponent/ training partner and also help to stop the occurrence of rashes.
As disgusting as it sounds, staph and ringworm are easily spread in such an environment. Fortunately, compression shorts or pants are a great way to combat this!
Wearing compression shorts help to make sure you’re comfortable whilst training. Rolling without compression gear can sometimes be uncomfortable, especially if you’re a guy.
A lot of people have taken to wearing their compression shorts under their regular MMA shorts, therefore having the best of both worlds. You get the comfort and warmth of compression shorts, without the feeling that you’re walking around the gym half naked.
If you do feel a bit exposed just wearing compression shorts, you’ll be pleased to know that some shorts come with a cup. You can use this to protect your ‘junk’ and also to maintain a bit of privacy.
Considering you can get both high quality compression shorts and MMA shorts for less than $100, you may as well invest in both! If you’re only looking to invest in one pair, it’s really down to personal preference.
The Best MMA Shorts Round Up
So we’ve made it to the end of our article. As you can probably tell from the length of this article, there is a ridiculous amount of MMA shorts available.
It’s worth remembering what I said in the beginning, the more you spend on your shorts the more you will get. More expensive items from trusted brands such as Venom will undoubtedly be more comfortable, last longer and perform better.
That being said, if you’re still learning the ropes of MMA and don’t want to invest a lot of money in a pair of shorts, some of the more budget friendly shorts we discussed are a great option.
I hope that you enjoyed reading our article on the best MMA shorts, if you’ve got any questions please feel free to comment them below.
Also, be sure to check out our other lists of the best MMA gear for in-depth reviews and comparisons.