Best MMA Gloves (2022): Coach’s Top Picks

June 12, 2022

MMA gloves were invented to protect the hands and heads from punches while also allowing for grappling, hence the open finger design. Then in the gym, fighters needed even more protection, which led to the creation of sparring and hybrid MMA gloves. In this buyer's guide, we will help you navigate the market and choose excellent MMA gloves depending on your preferences and budget.

Unsurprisingly, for an MMA gear list, Hayabusa sits at the top spot. The T3 MMA model ticks all the right boxes. They are made from a durable microfiber leather shell, which feels as smooth as butter.

Hayabusa boasts the best closure system with a dual X strap that stabilizes the wrist in any position. This is great for protection but also reduces hand fatigue.

Additional outstanding features are the pre-curved design that reduces hand fatigue and the Y-palm design that guarantees the glove will stay in place in striking and grappling exchanges.

Hayabusa always produces top-notch equipment in every aspect, which is why we've chosen the T3 model as the best MMA gloves. While Hayabusa claims they are also suitable for sparring, we recommend using larger sparring gloves instead.

Aside from that, Hayabusa T3 should meet the demands of even high-level athletes. And if you want to pay even more, Hayabusa offers the same model but is made from high-quality genuine cowhide leather.

Pros

  • Exceptional wrist support
  • Pre curved design
  • High quality durable materials
  • Y palm design delivers superior stability
  • Premium look

Cons

  • Quite expensive in comparison with the competition

Hayabusa T3 Pro Style MMA Gloves

Best MMA Gloves For Heavy Bag

Everlast Heavy Bag Gloves

For a few reasons, MMA gloves are not very well suited for the heavy bag. But some people prefer to train in MMA gloves on the bag, so they get used to the feeling. Everlast offers an excellent model that is explicitly geared towards heavy bag use.

The features that make these gloves suitable are the padding distribution that protects the knuckles and fingers, the padding on the thumb, and most of all, the gripping bar on the palm. The larger padding swells the gloves to 9 ounces, almost as much as a boxing glove. The palm bar lets you rip haymakers on the bag without worrying too much.

The downside of these features is that you can’t grapple with them, but as the title says, they are made for heavy bag use.

Pros

  • 9 oz padding for better protection
  • Gripping bar, perfect for heavy punching on the bag
  • Padding on the thumb
  • Full wrist strap

Cons

  • Not suitable for grappling
  • Some users complain of quality issues

Everlast Heavy Bag Gloves

Best MMA Gloves For Sparring

Fairtex FGV18 Super Sparring MMA Gloves

MMA sparring should be more delicate than striking sparring, but still, for competitors, strikes need to have weight behind them. Because of this, MMA sparring gloves are much bulkier than fighting ones and offer a lot of protection.

Fairtex are masters at building great boxing and Thai gloves. They used their craftsmanship to produce the ultimate sparring MMA glove in the FGV18 model. They have extra padding on the knuckles, thumb, and wrist to shield the hand when blocking.

The quality, as usual, is excellent. The FGV18 model is hand-made in Thailand from premium quality leather. The price for the extra protection is paid when grappling when the bulkier design is less than ideal.

Pros

  • Great design
  • Padding on the wrist for blocking
  • High quality leather
  • Designed to protect even the middle joints

Cons

  • A bit oversized according to users

Fairtex FGV18 Super Sparring MMA Gloves

Best MMA Gloves For Training

Venum Challenger MMA gloves

Venum is the most popular MMA gear brand, and their Challenger MMA gloves are our top choice for training. The main difference between training and competition/pro-style MMA gloves is the thumb protection.

These Venums are designed in Thailand and made from PU leather, which has proven to be quite durable. The foam padding is layered for better shock absorption, and the adjustable strap engulfs the wrist and bottom of the palm for good stability. All in all, a great glove that you can use in almost every training scenario.

Pros

  • Great design
  • Good padding and thumb protection
  • Excellent wrist protection strap
  • Versatile enough to be your only pair of MMA gloves

Cons

  • Powerful punching on the heavy bag will likely leave your fingers and knuckles bruised

Venum Challenger MMA gloves

Best MMA Gloves For Grappling

Everlast MMA Grappling Gloves

Grappling MMA gloves offer very little in terms of protection. Their purpose is to allow fighters to grapple freely while getting used to it with gloves.

Everlast's grappling glove model does precisely that. There is precious little padding, so hitting with any amount of force is not advised. Still, the small padding is exactly what allows for unobstructed grappling, along with the open palm design.

These gloves have excellent and stable wrist support and antimicrobial treatment as nice features. The price is also very good, but keep in mind that the materials are not the most durable.

Pros

  • Designed for MMA grappling
  • Good wrist strap
  • Open palm design
  • Anti odor treatment

Cons

  • Minimal padding makes them unusable for sparring

Everlast MMA Grappling Gloves

Best MMA Gloves For Beginners

Liberlupus MMA Gloves

Usually, the beginner and budget categories in MMA gear overlap. If you are starting, you want to buy gear that will not get in the way, but it's also cheap enough to not stress about it if you decide the sport is not for you.

The Liberlupus MMA gloves are perfect in this category. They basically have the same design as the Venum Challenger, but for a bit less money. With more than 4 thousand positive reviews on Amazon, you can be sure this will be a great first pair of MMA gloves. 

You can use them for drills, pads, grappling, and even sparring. As usual with this design, they are not great for heavy bags.

Pros

  • Great value
  • Proven design
  • Reinforced padding

Cons

  • You will want better gloves as you progress

Liberlupus MMA Gloves

The hybrid MMA gloves should make the transition between striking and grappling in an MMA training session seamless. Aside from their entry-level stuff, Sanabul also makes higher-quality gloves, and the Battle Forged hybrid model is excellent.

These 7 oz gloves are designed with the shape of the hand and cover the middle finger joints, making them suitable for bag use and sparring. The bulk is still not too much, and most of the palm is open, so they are still ideal for grappling.

Unlike in their cheaper models, the synthetic leather is of outstanding quality and will keep even advanced athletes happy. The point of this glove is to be the only glove you need for any type of MMA training.

Pros

  • Very versatile for striking and grappling
  • Soft padding is good for sparring
  • The strapping system allows gloves to be used even with wraps

Cons

  • Tend to run small
  • Users report some durability issues

Sanabul Essential Boxing Gloves

How To Choose The Best MMA Gloves For You

Size & Fit

Size and fit are critical with MMA gloves. They provide much less protection, and the wrong size means you have injured hands. With MMA gloves, the size is determined by the circumference of the hand. 

Each brand has a size-chart you should follow and choose the size for your hand. The MMA glove should be tight but not to the point where it prevents blood flow or stops the fingers from flexing.

Protection

MMA gloves are not nearly as protective as boxing gloves, but still, the models are quite different. Pro-style MMA gloves have an open palm and nothing on the thumb. They are 4 oz and offer the least protection to the hand and the opponent. 

Most training gloves are still around 4 oz but also have some protection on the thumb. Sparring and hybrid MMA gloves are a lot thicker and weigh 7 oz. With them, you get protection for the knuckles, the top of the hand, and the wrist to shield the hand when blocking.

Best Gloves For MMA

Wrist Support

There are no lace-up MMA gloves, only Velcro straps. But the smaller weight and size of MMA gloves means they are easier to strap, and pretty much every brand on this list offers adequate wrist stabilization.

Material

Like boxing gloves, genuine leather is king for its durability, look, and feel and lessens the holding of odors. But synthetic leather substitutes are also very good and high quality.

Most brands do not offer real leather options, only premium ones. MMA gloves generally get less punishment in the gym, and a good quality synthetic leather glove will last a while.

Price

MMA gloves are a lot cheaper than boxing gloves, which is only natural given that they need a lot less material. Of course, the higher-priced ones will last longer and feel better, but mid-tier gloves are also excellent. Just don't go for the cheapest ones you find if you respect your hand and your training partners.

Frequently Asked MMA Glove Questions

What Are The Best MMA Gloves

What Is The Best Brand Of MMA Gloves?

Famous brands are usually renowned for a reason. While in boxing gloves, legacy brands have been operating for many decades. MMA is a young sport, and perhaps Hayabusa has made the most significant impact with their equipment. Venum is also great, and they have more variety in price levels.

What Gloves Do MMA Fighters Train With?

MMA fighters spar with sparring gloves and do other drills with the sparring/hybrid gloves or their training gloves. Some prefer pro-style (without any protection on the thumb), while others prefer a bit more protection on their hands.

Do MMA Gloves Hurt More Than Boxing Gloves?

MMA gloves absolutely hurt more than boxing gloves. Even the 7 oz. sparring MMA glove is thinner than competition boxing gloves, which are 10 oz. 

And on the competition 4 oz MMA glove, the padding is only on the knuckles, which leaves the rest of the hand open to deal damage to the face. The overall impact on the head for both types is the same. Still, the superficial damage like cuts and bruises from MMA gloves is significantly greater.

Can You Spar With MMA Gloves?

Yes, MMA sparring is done with MMA gloves. To properly prepare for an MMA fight, you need MMA-specific sparring, and you can do efficient grappling only with MMA gloves. Training and pro-style gloves are not suitable for sparring unless both participants are experienced and can dial down the power to a very low level.

Why Are MMA Gloves Fingerless?

Grappling is a massive part of MMA. MMA gloves were invented to help minimize the damage from strikes and allow for meaningful grappling. This is the reason MMA gloves have no fingers and open palms.

Should MMA Gloves Be Tight?

There is a delicate balance to be had. The MMA glove should be tight so the hand won't move inside during a punch and while grappling, or it can be injured easier than usual. But it mustn't be so tight that it obstructs blood flow. If the gloves are too small and tight, it can prevent the flexing of the fingers, which also gets in the way of grappling.

Can You Use MMA Gloves On A Heavy Bag?

You can use MMA gloves on a heavy bag, but most MMA gloves are ill-suited for the job. The open finger design leaves the second finger joints open, and they usually scrape on the surface of the bag.

Pro-style gloves also have an open thumb, which is not ideal. However, there are MMA gloves with features designed for heavy bag use, and they are much better for that purpose than standard gloves.

Summary

MMA gloves can have different purposes, but our choice for the best gloves falls to the Hayabusa T3 model. They have a great look and feel, excellent wrist support, and unrivaled stability in the hand. When you need thicker gloves for MMA sparring, Fairtex FGV18 will have you covered.

Hayabusa T3 Pro Style MMA Gloves

About the author 

Plamen Kostov

Plamen has been training for the last 14 years in karate and kickboxing, before settling in for MMA for the last 5 years. He has a few amateur kickboxing fights and currently trains with and helps a stable of professional and amateur MMA fighters.


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