Choosing the right gloves is important to a mixed martial artist. Just like an expert craftsman wouldn’t settle for second best, neither should a fighter. Here’s everything you need to know…
The Face-Off – Article Preview
Fighter ready? Here’s what’s about to go down:
- The two main types of MMA glove
- What can they be used for?
- Which style do you need?
- 6-8 oz MMA sparring gloves
- 4 oz professional fighting gloves
- The final blow on MMA gloves
When it comes to fighting fists are the tools of the trade. Every day in practice they will go through more action than the average person sees in a lifetime.
So, it makes sense that you would want to protect your fists with a high-quality glove. Something perfectly suited to the job of sparring, drilling, or for the dedicated ones, fighting.
In times of war, soldiers maintain their weapons with great honor. They respected them and always kept their arsenal battle-ready – understanding that if they looked after their weapon it’d ultimately look after them.
By covering your fists with the best possible option you too can do this. Ensuring your hands are always in shape to go at any time is a fighters top priority.
Fortunately, there are different styles of glove for this exact reason. Bigger and spongier sparring mitts play a different role than sleek and speedy pro fight gloves. It’s all about choosing the right one for the specific occasion.
How to Choose MMA Gloves – Which style do you need?
There are two main types of glove available on the market today:
- 6-8 oz Amateur/Sparring
- 4 oz Professional/Fighting
During your training, you’ll typically wear one or the other. This is because although to the untrained eye they look the same, their size and design make them different.
Some manufacturers have created a cross between the two. However, these hybrids are not very common, nor worthwhile. So let’s break in the padding and grapple with the differences.
6-8 oz Amateur/Sparring Gloves
Larger than it’s sleek and lighter cousin, the 6-8 oz glove offers 50-100% more padding. Where the professional glove is designed with fighting in mind, the sparring glove is the everyday workhorse.
As their title suggests, these gloves are not designed specifically for fighting in. However, amateurs do often compete in them.
As time has progressed mixed martial artists are now much more intelligent in their sparring. Long gone are the days of everyday gym wars and in has come a new wave of calculated fighter. Therefore, the entire live practice landscape has changed, and gloves have evolved to suit it.
A new breed of glove for a new breed of fighter
- More all-around padding
- Protects the knuckle edge and thumb
- Better protects from cuts
- Can be worn for amateur competition
- Padded enough to be worn for bag and mitt work
- Bigger and bulkier
- Harder to grapple in
- Can get in the way of submissions
- Weight can range between 6-8 oz
Combat cuts and added cushioning
To combat the frequent cuts and lack of cushioning that came with the 4 oz fight gloves, combatants needed something else. So, manufacturers started to replicate the open palm style of a pro glove but with more padding.
Now fighters could still grapple for double underhooks or submissions, yet cushion their strikes with up to 100% more padding.
With these new gloves, fighters could train every day with less chance of injury. Of course, they will never be as realistic as a 4 oz model. Nor could they offer the same protection as the 16 oz boxing types. But their more structured padding around the knuckle edges, back-hand, and thumb keeps hands safer inside the training room – and faces.
Amateur MMA Competition
In recent years 6-8oz gloves have also become a favorite for amateur competition. Along with shorter rounds, these larger gloves have been adopted for fighters who aren’t yet ready for the pro ranks. In fact, many amateur organizations only allow competitors to wear 6-8 oz gloves.
We recommend Fairtex for the best MMA sparring gloves as they’re a reputable brand, have quality construction, and have set the standard for many years. Click here to see the Fairtex on Amazon. Looking for more a budget option? Sandee, another pioneering Thai brand, offer a great amateur/sparring glove at a lower cost. While the quality and material don’t quite match the Fairtex, it’s still ready to rock in the gym and cage. Click here to see the Sandee on Amazon.
4 oz Professional/Fighting Gloves
- Light and comfortable
- Less padding and sleeker
- Can be used for light technical drills, pad, and bag work
- Standardized size for professional competition worldwide
- Less padding means less protection
- More likely to cut training partners
- Cannot be used to fight in some Amateur organizations
- Not many fighters like to spar in these gloves
If you’re a fan of the UFC, Bellator, or ONE FC, you’ve undoubtedly seen these. They’re nimble, sleek, and only cover the bare essentials of the hand.
Fight gloves are not designed to protect your opponent, although it may seem that way. In actual fact, they were first worn to protect the wearer. This is because MMA was once a no-holds-barred bare-fisted sport before it was a unified global sensation.
Today the 4 oz glove is standard amongst professional leagues worldwide. The palm is typically always open and each finger has a designated hole for movement.
4 oz professional fighting gloves are rarely used in open sparring situations. However, fighters do use them for drilling and live-action scenarios at lesser intensities.
You’ll probably never see two UFC stars throwing down heavy in a pair unless in an actual contest. Yet, you might spot them working light strikes on the cage wall with them in practice.
This is because the narrow edges make the fight glove more prone to cutting – of course, this is bad news at the best of times. If you’re an active fighter, a cut could mean canceling your next event, or it opening up in future fights.
What can they be used for?
Here’s a rundown of what the two types of MMA glove can be used for. The following lists aren’t definitive, yet they represent the standard for pretty much every glove and fighter.
6-8 OZ AMATEUR/SPARRING GLOVE
- Amateur fighting
- Controlled, light to medium-heavy intensity sparring
- Light to heavy intensity pad work
- Partner drilling
4 OZ PROFESSIONAL SPARRING GLOVE
- International professional fighting
- Some amateur fighting
- Controlled light sparring
- Light to heavy intensity pad work
- Partner drilling
Again, this list isn’t the be-all and end-all. It’s up to you how hard you train and with what kit you use. After all, it’s your martial arts career and your training partners on the end of the glove.
Conclusion – The final blow on MMA gloves
Finding the right fit for an MMA glove shouldn’t be too hard. Ideally, you want a glove that covers the entirety of your knuckles, offers great wrist support, and won’t slip off during training.
If in doubt it’s a great idea to grab a sparring partner and try their glove. Note down the size and how well it fits on to your hand. It’s important to get a proper fit to keep you both safe and secure. There’s nothing more annoying than constantly having to re-adjust a glove, or worse, hurting your hands because it doesn’t support you enough.
To find your glove size, take a tape measure and wrap it around an open palm. Aim to track the tape in a parallel circle just below the knuckle line. Ideally, you’ll measure your biggest and most dominant hand.
Once you’ve got your measurements, check out the manufacturers sizing guide. This handy chart should give you all the info to find the glove you need.
In terms of fit, the glove wants to be snug enough so it doesn’t slip off. Your fingers should feel secure through the loops and there shouldn’t be any restriction for making a fist.
Are you the sort of fighter who likes to wrap their hands? Try to push your index finger between the padding and back of your hand. If it fits securely but isn’t too tight, you know you can fit your wraps under there. If not – maybe check out another size, style or brand.
GLOVE FITTING CHECKLIST
- Does it fit snug and secure?
- Is there adequate protection on the knuckles
- How secure does the wrist feel?
- Can you make a fist comfortably?
- Do the gloves restrict blood flow anywhere?
- Can you fit your hand wraps underneath?
Finally, if you’re stuck between two pairs, call in the pros. Take a look at social media or in training videos to see what gloves your favorite fighters wear. What brands do they spar in? What seems to be the industry standard? Are there any cheap brands they avoid? Once you’ve got your answer, weigh up the pros and cons of each for a knockout victory.
[Honesty: This page contains affiliate links to certain training products. Although we recommend them because of their merit, it’s only fair to let you know we may receive a small commission if you choose to purchase them. This is how we are able to fund this site and keep it operating. We do no less this impact our judgment when reviewing and/or suggesting anything.]