Venum Challenger MMA Gloves
- Extremely Durable
- Premium Materials
- Reinforced Seams
- Great For Competing
- Fit Comfortably
- Variety Of Colors & Sizes
- Best-In-Class Strap System
- Not ideal for grappling
- Can seem a bit pricey
- Not good for heavy bag work
There can hardly be any top 10 compilation for MMA products without a Venum entry in it. In fact, that brand has solidified as one of the pioneers in combat sports gear and nowadays they are one of the leading companies from which you can get any type of MMA equipment. The Venum Challenger MMA Gloves are perhaps one the top mixed martial arts glove right now and would be a great addition to anyone who is looking for a versatile glove that will be both good in training and when competing.
Overview & Features
Right off the bat, I want to admit that at certain points I can be a bit biased because I have been using these gloves for the last 3 years and I absolutely love them. Still, I will try to be as objective as possible when listing the various features, advantages, and disadvantages of the glove along the way. So, with that out of the way, let’s jump straight into this review!
Design and Comfort
I will start with the design since with most Venum products this is a key feature. The gloves I have are the black on black model with the black cobra at the front padding. They look insanely good and very stealthy. Black and dark colors, in general, has been proven to be good for fighting in competitions since that color is the hardest to detect and evens out the competition. This is why most organizations have darker gloves. Orange, white, or red gloves is something I would recommend for training only.
There are 5 color options you can choose from here, and they are:
- Black on black
- Grey on black
- Red on black
- Orange on black
- White on black
They all look fantastic but the black ones have the advantage of not showing their age as much, even though these gloves practically never age. I have been using them day in and day out for more than 36 months now and they still have that new glove feel to them every time I put them on. When comparing gloves with my sparring mates, no other glove comes close to that. They either get stretched out or the padding breaks into pieces inside the glove. Anyway, more on that later.
When you put those gloves on, the first thing you will notice is the snug fit. They are really made to wrap your hand and protect it. The hinge is a bit stiff and doesn’t allow you to open your hand far too much. The leather feels soft and even when brand new you won’t have to work them in. They come ready to rumble and they don’t change their overall feeling no matter what you do with them.
On the bottom part of each finger ring you will see that there is a small hole in the leather which is made so that your fingers don’t sweat as much and have some sort of internal ventilation. Such attention to detail is rare even in the top MMA products.
The padding is kind of hard even for my taste which can make the gloves uncomfortable when doing bag work but it is a godsend when competing with them (unless you are on the receiving end of the hits). That hardness is the reason why the internal foaming doesn’t degrade over time and break up. It sticks as a solid piece and stays like that.
The key to all that is the so-called “layered foaming” technology Venum uses, which essentially is multiple layers of padding compressed with one another, instead of one big chunk just put in there and shaped to the glove as most lower end brands do.
That part of the glove is perhaps the only one that slightly changes over time. I’ve noticed that the padding has gotten just a tiny bit softer since a friend from the gym bought the same ones earlier this year.
When we compared them, we found out that most of the glove stays the same – leather, stitching, straps, etc. The front padding, though, had gotten a bit more soft and flat, probably due to all the impacts the older gloves have been through. Still, breaking into pieces was my biggest concern and in these gloves is just doesn’t happen.
There is a bit of padding on top of the wrist as well to keep it from accidental injuries and hits. Other cheaper gloves opt to put more padding there while leaving slightly less for the knuckles (to keep the same oz). In my opinion, the ratio here is ideal.
If you want to check out something with slightly more padding and a far cheaper price tag, head over to my Combat Sports Max Strike MMA Gloves Review!
Materials and Durability
The materials on these gloves are what you expect them to be. The leather here is synthetic which isn’t by everyone’s taste but in my opinion this particular leather holds up to the test of time well. It doesn’t sweat up your hands too much and it doesn’t have any bad odors after continuous usage.
It can take a beating too (literally). I usually do light bag work in between rounds integrated in my training session just to keep the blood flowing and these gloves show no wearing after being in contact with the heavy bags or the speed bag.
Another thing that adds to the longevity of the “Challenger” gloves are the reinforced seams. They greatly improve the lifespan of this glove since most MMA gloves tend to have their seams as a weak spot. Once a stitch goes loose, they all cascade into breaking apart and ultimately rendering the glove unusable.
Even the hook and loop velcro system on the straps is one of the best I’ve felt. Let’s dive into that now…
The Strap System
It can’t be one of the best MMA Gloves if it doesn’t have a great strap system. That is basically one of the main components of a glove and a bad strap can ruin your day. We’ve all dealt with gloves that come loose from just a few punches and we constantly have to re-adjust them mid-training. That never happens here.
The strap system here is a classic hook and loop one but is very dense and it just grips like nothing else.
One thing that I love about the strapping is that there is a small velcro strap that allows you to pre-position your hand before wrapping the bigger and longer main strap. That way you don’t have to hold anything while strapping your gloves which is honestly such a small detail but makes your experience much better.
There are three sizes here:
They are all based on your hand circumference when measure below the knuckles.
Pro Tip: If you are planning to use hand wraps beneath your gloves, you will have to opt for a slightly bigger size or at least measure your hand when having the wraps on. For an MMA glove you won’t be able to wrap your hands in 10ft wraps, so opt for 5-6ft ones.
Also, some MMA leagues won’t allow you to use wraps with the gloves, so keep that in mind when choosing your size as well.
The weight on these gloves is also distributed really evenly which allows for better accuracy.
What Are They Good For?
These gloves are best in their natural habitat – fighting. I personally use them as my competition gloves and use them for my final sparring sessions just to get used to them after a training camp with either 7-8oz MMA gloves or 14oz boxing gloves.
I rarely grapple with them, as they are not ideal for every day grappling but I find them very tight when competing which allows me to sneak my hands for various submissions.
One more thing that I forgot to mention and I love about these gloves is that you get a nice netted carrying sack which keeps the gloves well-ventilated even after you’ve trained with them for hours (no more stinking gloves, in other words).
Venum Challenger Vs. The Venum Undisputed 2.0 MMA Gloves
The main difference between the Challenger and Undisputed series is that the Undisputed 2.0 have real Napa leather on them. Now, that might not be by everyone’s taste but I cannot deny the quality they bring to the table.
The strap system is marginally better on the Challenger thanks to that small fixing Velcro strap, but the Undisputed gloves have an adjustable system which also keeps the glove tight.
In terms of padding, the Undisputed gloves series definitely wins since they have more of it but that isn’t always what a fighter is after. Still, that padding makes them a more suitable option for training.
Longevity on both gloves is great but the real leather on the undisputed gloves might cause some issues if not stored, used, or treated properly.
As a whole, I’d take the black Challenger for competition but I’d think twice about which of those I’d want to have on me while I am training. Still, both options are excellent and are priced relatively well, even though some new users might find them expensive on contrast with the widespread cheaper competition.
Check my full review on the Venum Undisputed 2.0 Gloves here.
Advantages & Disadvantages
- Very durable
- Class-leading materials & stitching
- They fit very well
- Ideal for competition
- The price to value ratio isn’t ideal, mainly due to the vast amount of cheaper competition
- Can be a bit hard on the padding, especially if you want to train on a heavy bag with them
The MMA Central Rating:
As a whole, it is hard to give my own personal rating below 5 out of 5 stars for this model. The Venum Challenger MMA Gloves have been nothing but spectacular throughout the years I’ve been using them and have shown little to no signs of wear and tear thanks to the craftsmanship involved in producing them. Sure, they might cost you a little extra, but in my opinion, is well worth the investment.