The road to winning fights in MMA is long and exhausting and without the proper gear, it will also be riddled with injuries. This is why choosing the best MMA gloves for your fighting and training style is essential to your health and success. With the large variety of gloves out there, however, this choice might not be as simple as you probably thought. In this guide, we will go over some of the top models for this year, review their features, and point out their differences. Then, we will dive deeper into the individual things you need to look for in a proper pair of MMA gloves!
MMA Gloves Comparison Chart
Now, let’s take a look at some of the best models for this year. I will sort them by categories, as each of those gloves has a specific purpose either in training or competing.
Most Well-Rounded Model – Venum Challenger MMA Gloves
It may be because I own these gloves but I am absolutely addicted to the way they perform. If they weren’t first in the list, they would’ve surely be at least in the top 3. All bias aside, the Venum Challenger series is perhaps their most successful line of MMA gloves solely thanks to the great all-around quality. It doesn’t matter whether you are looking for bag gloves, sparring ones, or gloves to grapple with, these will pretty much cover any training ground. On top of that, they are compliant with most countries’ MMA competition rules. If you want to hear more of my thoughts on these gloves, head over to my full detailed review!
- Very durable
- Good amount of padding
- Long wrist wrap
- Have thumb protection
- Easy to put on
- Quite expensive
- Not ideal for heavy bag work
Best For Sparring – Combat Sports Max Strike MMA Training Gloves
The “Max Strike” by Combat Sports is a rather famous choice for light MMA sparring mainly due to its larger size and good padding. It also features good materials and a nice strap system that will keep your wrist in check. If you want extra comfort and protection for your hands while you are sparring, I suggest using wraps beneath the glove. That will maintain firmness on your hand no matter the movements, in other words – it is a good way to stay injury-free. The thumb padding here is also great, although it might slightly get in your way when you take the fight to the ground. Still, if you want something that has some extra foam padding up front to keep things safe during training, this is the right glove for you.
- Great amount of padding
- Good material quality
- Thumb protection
- Great for sparring
- Decent price to value ratio
- Aren’t allowed in some MMA competition
- Stitching isn’t perfect
Best Grappling MMA Gloves
Grappling gloves usually lack thumb protection, as that makes it easier to grab someone when on the ground. Still, some gloves have an improvised sleeve for the thumb. Look for models with flexible glove hinges and a good strap system that will keep things in check.
RDX F12 MMA Gloves
In grappling, you want to keep the feel of the glove, while having either entirely free thumb or a slightly covered one. You also want gloves that won’t make your hands sweaty and slippery, so that you can lock submissions better. These are fields where the F12 gloves by RDX excel. Their hide synthetic construction combined with the synthetic micro fabric on the inside keeps your hands dry at all times and the padding gives a snug feel to the hand for better protection. Their straps are a slight weak spot but for this price, you will be surprised at the overall quality.
- Excellent for grappling
- Very cheap
- Fairly long-lasting
- Not ideal for stand-up sparring
- Great for competitions
- Good leather quality
- Wrist strap is too short
- Potential stitching issues
Everlast Pro Style MMA Grappling Gloves
It only speaks well for the competition that it took me three gloves to get to one of the most reputable brands out there – Everlast. Few are the fighting brands out there that have stuck around for so long and even fewer are the ones that have started making quality MMA products. These grappling MMA gloves are perhaps my favorite for when it comes to my jiu-jitsu training. The thumb here is entirely free, while the rest of the hand has a decent amount of padding to keep reminding you that you are still wearing gloves. It is one of the best models out there if you want to grapple with gloves on. The slight downside is that with such quality you can expect a bit higher price tag.
- Greta for grappling
- Extremely durable
- Good wrist strap
- Semi-open palm design
- Good for MMA competition
- Not great for bag work or sparring
- Relatively expensive
- No thumb protection
UFC 5oz MMA Gloves
Even though the UFC brand of products is relatively new to the market, they have the ultimate testing subjects – actual MMA fighters. That allows them to put out perfectly suitable products for any part of MMA training. Their UFC grappling gloves are very similar to the Everlarlast Pro-Style ones but are far cheaper. The weak points of this glove are the stitching and the strap system, which tend to get loose or break after a few months of non-stop usage. Still, if you want to support the organization or maybe motivate your students by making them feel like UFC stars, these are an excellent choice. Head over to my full review to hear more of my thoughts on them.
- Good strap system
- Very durable for a cheap glove
- Reinforced stitching
- Great for grappling and light sparring
- No thumb protection
- Not accepted in some competitions
- Only come in two sizes
- Not great for heavy bag work
Top 7OZ Model – Everlast Train Advanced MMA 7-Ounce Striking Gloves
Compared to the previous Everlast model, these gloves seem like they have armor on them. That is because they actually do. The 7oz padding combined with the thumb protection padding here are specifically designed for people that want to spar and hit bags. Everything from the hinge system, through the strap, stitching, and leather quality and durability are on point here. Something you might feel weird with them is that your fingers won’t really be separated and it would almost feel like a small open boxing glove. Still, for people that want to keep their hands safe during combat training, these are ideal.
- Excellent for striking and bag work
- Good for light sparring
- The design allows ventilation
- Very durable
- Thumb protection
- Not great for grappling
- A bit expensive
- Can’t be used in official competition
Best Training Pair – Venum Undisputed 2.0 MMA Gloves
For the best overall training glove, I’d have to give the prize to Venum again. If you want to replicate the feeling of a real MMA fight in your gym, this is a solid glove that will allow you to safely do so. It comes with some thumb protection, the wrist hinge system is on point, and the straps have a great grip to them. The overall material quality is typical to the company and the fingers are well separated from one another. The stitching and leather can take a beating (literally) and will last you a long while before they show any signs of wear and tear. As a whole, even despite its steep price tag, these gloves are a good investment.
- Excellent for training and competition
- Well-rounded performance
- Can be used for bag work
- Class-leading strap system
- Excellent material quality
- Thumb protection
- Very expensive
- Require a decent amount of care
Best For Heavy Bag – Hayabusa T3 Kanpeki Hybrid 7oz MMA Gloves
When you want to use open MMA gloves to train on a bag, you can expect the price to bump up a little bit. That is because everything has to be twice as durable when it comes to hitting a boxing bag, be it a heavy or a light one. This is why the Hayabusa T3 is the most expensive pair on this list. The X-closure on the palms allows for more freedom in training, making them somewhat suitable for grappling as well. For sparring, they are ideal but I’d recommend some cheaper alternatives instead. These gloves are worth your investment if you primarily spend your gym time on the bag, as they are the ones that will last you the longest from all other pairs on this list. See my full review to learn more about these gloves!
- Best-in-class material quality
- Perfect padding for sparring and bag work
- Good wrist strap system
- Minimal wear and tear over time
- Not competition-friendly
- Not ideal for grappling
- Very expensive
Top Competition Gloves – Combat Sports FG3S Pro Style MMA Gloves
If you are looking for a budget combat glove that meets all the state regulations for professional MMA fighting, then the FG3S by Combat Sports is the way to go. It is cheap, very durable for its price, and offers a good amount of protection for your hand. A slight disadvantage, for me at least, is that it doesn’t have any thumb support. The gloves feature an open palm design, which is what most people prefer but as someone who has had his thumb broken from hitting, I prefer having that extra padding on top of it (if it fits with the organization requirements, of course).
- Extremely cheap
- Decent durability
- Perfect for competition
- Padding stays in shape after years
- Extra wrist padding
- No thumb protection
- Not great for training and sparring
Sanabul Essential 7 oz MMA Hybrid Sparring Gloves
Sanabul has been a favorite brand of mine for a long time now. All bias aside, they are one of the pioneers in the fighting gear industry and have been dominating the lower price points in terms of sales and popularity. Their high-end products are also impressive but the amount of competition there makes them harder to really shine through. These particular models are their 7oz hybrid gloves which are great for people that are looking for a training glove that will outlast most other budget models. Their padding is excellent, the wrist and thumb supports are decent and the overall leather quality is good. The hinge system can be a bit stiff but it loosens up with time.
If you are following MMA, you most likely have a favorite fighter that is endorsed by Sanabul and always trains with their products. Among some of the most famous names are:
- Michael Bisping
- TJ Dillashaw
- Sean O’Malley
- Alan Jouban
- Guilherme Vasconcelos
Among the pro boxers a very familiar name is Mike Lee, who has been with the brand for more than 5 years now.
To learn more about these gloves, head over to my full review!
- Best-in-class price
- Excellent padding
- Perfect for training and sparring
- The wrist strap is good
- Good amount of protection
- Only have two sizes
- Not suitable for competition
- Not ideal for grappling
Brace Master MMA Training Gloves
The Brace Master MMA gloves are not going to fit everyone’s needs but they do check a lot of boxes. They are competition-ready, offer a generous amount of padding and wrist support while being cheap. The finger sleeves and thumb support are almost exactly the same (at least design-wise) as a much more expensive Venum Glove. I have one particular problem with these gloves, though. They are priced exactly the same, if not higher, than the Sanabul gloves. In fact, the 4 and 5 oz models by Sanabul are a few bucks cheaper which is kind of crazy to think about, since the Brace Master gloves won’t have anywhere near the longevity of the Sanabul ones. So, the reality of these gloves is that they offer a lot of advantages, especially to someone who doesn’t train MMA every day and uses them on a weekly basis but they are just priced wrong and are in a bracket that has a lot of good quality competitors.
- Fairly well priced
- Good thumb protection
- Easy to put on
- Great for beginners
- Don’t require much maintenance
- The 4oz model is good for competition
- Good strap system
- More expensive than some better competitors
- Not great for sparring or bag work
- Not suitable for everyday training
MMA Gloves Buyer’s Guide
MMA is relatively new compared to other combat sports like boxing and kickboxing. Still, for the few decades, it has been around, it has improved a lot and today we see the results of that. There are official rules and commissions for most countries, organizations that oversee events, and lots of promotion happening.
The fighter’s gear isn’t left without improvements too. In amateur championships, there are mandatory shin pads and/or helmet and elbow protectors for the fighters. On top of that, there are rules and regulations revolving around the gloves that can be used. Those include the glove size, padding, and the presence/lack of thumb support. Modern MMA gloves have seen huge improvements over their predecessors from the early 2000s. The main advantages today are in the stitching and strap technologies. Those two things ensure a snug fit and a long-lasting pair.
Another aspect that has been really improved is the glove padding. When training and fighting with MMA gloves, you have far less glove padding compared to boxing gloves, so the quality of that same padding is very important. Either way, I will guide you through all those features in greater detail in just a moment…
When buying your first pair of MMA gloves, you should consider the following things:
- What Will You Use Them For?
- Strap System
- Moisture Absorbing
- Competition Requirements
Let’s take a look at each of those aspects individually now and get a better idea of how to choose the perfect pair of gloves.
What Will You Use Them For?
MMA gloves have a couple of different purposes when it comes to training with them. Some are better for grappling, others are great for bag work and light sparring. There are gloves that are made primarily with competition in mind. Each of those kinds has its own appeal and before getting your gloves you need to know what will you be using them for.
I personally have two pairs – one for competition and one for sparring (and grappling). Before that, I had only one in the face of my Venum Challengers which were allowed in my organization and were super comfortable to train with.
Grappling MMA gloves are far different from the ones used for bag work primarily because they have less padding and no thumb protection/support. They are very similar to competition gloves, although most people prefer having thumb protection on their gloves when competing. Grappling and competition gloves are either 4 or 5 oz while gloves used for the heavy bags are usually 7 or 8 oz.
Sizing for MMA gloves ranges from 4 to 8 oz and gloves used in official fights are usually 4 oz. If you want to do light sparring and bag work, I recommend getting a glove with more volume and padding to it. Also, try going for synthetic materials instead of real leather, as new technologies have given us synthetic gloves that can outlast real leather ones, especially if you hit the pads and the boxing bag often.
If you want gloves solely for competing, check with your organization’s rules and see what size and type of glove they allow.
Comfort should never be overlooked, especially when the health of your hands depends on it. If you have a day time job which involves a lot of desktop work, writing, typing, or another type of work involving your hands, you would probably want them to be quite protected even during training. That is why you need to look for gloves that not only have proper padding but are a good fit for your hand.
Most gloves come in different sizes (small, medium, large, extra-large, etc) and more often than not they provide you with the numbers for those sizes so you will be able to measure your hand and see which one matches you the best. If possible, try to go to a local MMA shop and try out a few gloves to see how they fit you and get an idea of your hand size. You will also see whether you like having thumb protection or not.
The glove’s padding varies a lot in terms of softness and protection. High-end companies like Hayabusa, Venum, and Everlast have their own padding formulas that are very good at absorbing the shock coming from your punches. That premium padding also doesn’t fall apart after a few months of usage like some of the cheaper ones do. I’ve had a few cheap pairs of gloves and in no time you start feeling the padding material disintegrating inside the glove and by that point, you have to swap them for new ones.
Padding is also done in sections which form hinges so that your fist and fingers can open and close easier (and therefore to grab in a grappling exchange). Bag gloves most often don’t have these types of hinges so they are closer to boxing gloves in that regard.
The Strap System
Strap systems have pretty much reached their golden point in which they are just tight, snug, and don’t come loose. There are systems that latch on to the whole circumference of your wrist and some that have specific connection spots on the glove. There are even double-strap systems on some modern MMA gloves nowadays. Either way, cheaper brands use cheaper hook-and-loop fasteners which stop holding the glove that good in some time and you will have to constantly adjust it mid-training until the strap system no longer, well… straps.
Straps also differ in length. The longer the strap the better it will wrap your glove around your wrist but also the bulkier it will get. An ideal length is anywhere between 15 and 20 inches for standard hook and loop straps.
This is yet another aspect that people often overlook when buying their gloves. If you don’t use your gloves as much it won’t really matter but for people that plan on sparring or training with their gloves a few times a week, you should definitely consider a brand that is known for good stitching. Bad stitches can basically make the glove fall apart after you tear just a few of them.
Materials nowadays vary a lot. From Napa leather to synthetic leather, every glove has its advantages. Real leather tends to last longer than synthetic one but newer synthetic versions are giving it a run for its money and more and more people are opting for fake leather, as it now has better breathing capabilities and doesn’t wear as much when doing pads and bag work.
If you want to learn more about the topic of real vs synthetic leather for all sorts of fighting equipment, click here!
The durability of an MMA glove can basically be measured by its longevity and the way it handles frequent training. Most premium gloves will last you years and if you follow professional fighters you will notice that they keep their old gloves for quite some time, and always fight with them unless the organization demands new gloves on each fight.
Cheaper models are meant for lighter training and are made out of weaker materials that wear faster. A budget MMA training glove usually lasts from 6 to 12 months before the strap stops locking well, and the stitching breaks.
Moisture Absorbing Properties
One of the main focus of glove companies is to keep your hands dry when in their gloves. The less sweat on your gloves, the more grip you will have with your hands when grappling. In sparring and bag work it doesn’t generally matter unless the smell of a warm steamy glove bothers you a lot.
There is a health concern to that too, especially if you share your gloves with a partner. Fungi and other infections grow easier in these conditions and you can easily catch something if you don’t keep proper hygiene. That is also valid for shin pads, elbow and knee protectors.
You should always check with your organization’s rules before buying a pair of MMA gloves if you are getting them solely for competing. Most organizations use the 4 oz gloves but yours might be different. Also, look for thumb protection specifications. Some organizations require an open palm with no thumb latching.
Another important aspect, that is connected to the glove is whether or not you should wear hand wrapping. If yes, then you might want to pick a slightly bigger glove size than your hand so that it can fit even when you got your hand wrapped.
Lastly, I want to talk about the price. Don’t go way overboard just because you want a specific brand. Nowadays brand name is often an excuse for a higher price tag, while cheaper brands tend to offer quality products as well. My best advice is to seek out reviews from long-term users and see how the gloves handle the test of time. If it is good enough for you, it isn’t worth spending extra 50 bucks on another glove just because it comes from a famous brand.
Still, I will always stand behind the fact that brands like Venum put a lot of research into their products and you can never go wrong with gear from such a brand (as well as Hayabusa, Everlast, BadBoy, etc.) even if it costs you a little extra.
Should I Spar With Regular Boxing Gloves Or MMA Gloves?
Depending on what type of competition are you preparing for. Usually, even when I am training for an MMA match, I train with 10 oz boxing gloves on. They are slightly bigger than 7 oz MMA sparring gloves and improve my hand speed when I eventually move down to 4 oz for the fight. I rarely train with my 4 oz gloves as it just increases the risk of injury of my sparring partner. The only thing I do in 4 oz gloves is shadow box just so that I can maintain the level of control in my hands.
There are plenty of people that train with 4-8 oz gloves, though, but they tend to use them for bag work, pads, or light sparring. I’d never recommended going hard on your sparring partner with a small MMA glove.
Does It Help If I Grapple With Gloves On?
The answer here is similar to the previous one. If you look for takedowns during matches then – yes, you should definitely get used to the feel of sparring and grappling with smaller MMA gloves on you.
Even during my grappling weekdays, I put my gloves on just to keep being used to the fact that I will have to take the gloves into account when slipping my hand under a neck for a choke or looking for another submission.
Look for gloves without thumb protection. They will give you more freedom when on the ground.
Should I Wrap My Hands When Using MMA Gloves
If you are sparring or doing bag work and want an extra layer of protection for your wrists and hand, then you should wrap your hands. Still, take that into account when buying gloves because if you get gloves that are a snug fit, you won’t be able to put wraps underneath the glove.
What I have is 5 feet wraps for when I use it with my MMA gloves and 10 feet wraps for boxing gloves. Less wrap means less bulk to deal with under your 4 oz gloves.
Most organizations require them as mandatory but there are organizations out there that prohibit the use of hand wrapping.
The best MMA gloves are often defined by their brand or which fighter is promoting them but in reality, there is quite some more happening underneath all that which defines good gloves from bad ones. Things like the stitching quality and the padding protection are paramount to fighters that train daily and want to keep their pair for more than just a few months. This is why you need to take all things into consideration when making your choice. If you are having a hard time deciding on a particular pair, you can always use my list of top gloves for 2020 and see which one fits your needs the best.