MMA gloves were invented to provide protection similar to boxing gloves but allow effective grappling simultaneously, hence the open-finger design.
The small size of MMA gloves is good for competition but not enough for the gym, which means you need a slightly different model to spar with and a different model for other types of training.
Choosing the best MMA gloves for your needs may become daunting, given the abundance of choices on the market. But luckily for you, I have spent a lot of time testing gloves in my training and reading customer reviews to provide you with all the necessary information.
Best MMA Gloves
Best MMA Gloves For Sparring
Best MMA Gloves For Beginners
Best MMA Gloves
Unsurprisingly, Hayabusa sits at the top of an MMA gear list. The T3 MMA model ticks all the right boxes- quality, comfort, and protection. The T3 is made from a durable microfiber leather shell, which feels as smooth as genuine leather and provides excellent durability.
Hayabusa boasts the best closure system with a dual X strap, stabilizing the wrist in any position. This is great for protection and in reducing hand fatigue.
Additional outstanding features are the pre-curved design, which further decreases hand fatigue. The Y-palm design guarantees the glove will stay in place during striking and grappling exchanges.
Hayabusa always produces top-notch equipment in every aspect, so we've chosen the T3 model as the best MMA gloves. While Hayabusa claims they are also suitable for sparring, I strongly recommend using larger sparring gloves instead.
I don't feel comfortable sparring with or against 4 oz gloves like these, and your training partners will not appreciate it either.
The Hayabusa T3 should meet the demands of even high-level athletes for competition or training gloves. If you want to pay a few bucks more, Hayabusa offers the same model but made from high-quality genuine cowhide leather for enjoyers of genuine materials.
Best MMA Gloves for Training
Standard MMA gloves are usually only good for competition, so you just need a good hybrid/sparing glove for MMA sparring and many other training purposes. The MS1 MMA training and sparring gloves from Revgear are an excellent solution for an all-around glove.
The MS1 gloves come at the standard 7 ounces for sparring gloves. They are made from high-quality Softech leather, which has an excellent feel and guarantees durability. The overall production quality is excellent. The stitching is good, and everything feels put well put together.
The main benefit of this model comes from the palm and finger loop design. Making a fist feels effortless, and there is no hand fatigue whatsoever.
The gloves are very compact for 7 ounces due to the multi-layered padding, which is soft but not bulky. This feature makes the MS1 perfect for MMA sparring for those who favor grappling over striking.
These Revgear gloves can be your go-to training glove for all purposes. The affordable price makes them even easier to recommend especially when you can save 10% using code "SWEETSCIENCE."
There are more good things to be said about these gloves. You can read my full guide with more pictures and video in my Revgear Pro Series MS1 MMA Gloves review.
Revgear MS1 MMA Training Gloves
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Best MMA Gloves For Heavy Bag
The features making these gloves suitable for the job are the padding distribution protecting the knuckles and fingers, the padding on the thumb, and 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 about hand soreness.
The downside of these features is that you can't grapple well with them, but as the title says, they are made specifically for heavy bag use.
Best MMA Gloves For Beginners
Usually, the beginner and budget categories of MMA gear overlap. If you are starting, you want to buy quality gear and be cheap enough so you won't stress about it if you decide the sport is not for you.
The XMartial MMA gloves are perfect in this category. They have the same design as the Venum Challenger but for a bit less money. The gloves feel well made and are excellent for levels way above beginner. The high-quality PU leather will last a long time in the gym without needing new gloves.
You can use them for drills, pads, grappling, and even sparring, although they are too thin for sparring. As is usually the case with this design, these gloves are not great for heavy bag work.
XMartial MMA Gloves
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Best MMA Gloves For Sparring
Unlike fighting, where damage to the opponent is the primary goal, sparring must be done as safely as possible, which is why MMA sparring gloves are different than competition gloves and have much more padding.
Fairtex are masters at building great boxing and Thai gloves, but they also use their craftsmanship to produce the ultimate MMA sparring glove - the FGV18.
The most important feature of this model is the knuckle padding, which is comparable to that of a sparring boxing glove.
I haven't used other MMA gloves with even remotely comparable levels of protection. The downside is these are not very comfortable for grappling due to overall size.
The quality, as usual with Faritex, is excellent. The FGV18 model is hand-made in Thailand from high-quality synthetic leather.
You can read my in-depth breakdown with more pictures and videos in my Fairtex FGV18 MMA Gloves review.
Fairtex FGV18 Super Sparring MMA Gloves
Best Venum MMA Gloves
Venum is the most popular MMA gear brand, and their Challenger MMA gloves are our top Venum choice. 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.
Best MMA Gloves For Grappling
There is precious little padding, so hitting with force is not advised unless you are working on conditioning your hands. Still, the thin padding is precisely what allows for unobstructed grappling, along with the open palm design.
These gloves have excellent and stable wrist support, and the antimicrobial treatment is a nice feature. They are also cheap, but remember that the materials are not the most durable. In my opinion, grappling is the only thing you should be using them for.
Best MMA Gloves On Amazon
You get good quality PU leather, reinforced impact padding, thumb protection, full open palm, and a well-designed wrist strap for a solid MMA glove at a reasonable price.
With more than 6 thousand positive reviews on Amazon, you can be confident every detail was thoroughly tested, and you can find answers to every question in the customer reviews section.
Naturally, these have some issues, but many are inherent for all MMA gloves due to the design rather than specific problems with this brand and model.
Best Budget MMA Gloves
Sanabul makes products in different price segments but is most well known for their budget offerings, and the Sanabul Essential 7 oz MMA gloves are an excellent choice for everyone not wanting to break the bank.
I believe sparring MMA gloves are much more important than normal 4 oz gloves, and for most people, hybrid/sparring gloves are all they will need in the gym. This is why if you are on a budget and want to buy only one pair of gloves, this Sanabul model is the perfect fit.
The padding is enough for sparring, while the design ensures the gloves are flexible enough for grappling. The materials and build are solid, the finger loops are not as irritating as in other budget models, and for this price, I can generally find no flaws.
Best Hybrid 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.
Best Yokkao MMA Gloves
If you get to choose your competition gloves, few options are as good as the Yokkao Pro Gloves. As the name suggests, these are pro-style gloves primarily designed for competitions. As such, you get an open palm design and 4 oz padding.
Unlike some other competition gloves, the thumb here is covered. The materials used are high-quality microfiber leather on the outside and smooth mesh on the inside. Like other Yokkao products, these gloves are handmade in Thailand, guaranteeing excellent quality.
Yokkao MMA Pro Gloves
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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 right size. MMA gloves should be tight but not to the point where they prevent blood flow or stop the fingers from flexing.
MMA gloves are less protective than boxing gloves, but some models offer more than others. Pro-style MMA gloves have an open palm and nothing on the thumb. They are 4 oz and provide the least protection to the hand and the opponent.
Most training gloves are around 4 oz but also have some protection on the thumb. Sparring and hybrid MMA gloves are thicker and weigh 7 oz or more. With them, you get additional protection for the knuckles, the top of the hand, and the wrist.
There are no lace-up MMA gloves, only Velcro straps. MMA gloves' smaller weight and size means they are easier to strap, and almost every brand on this list offers adequate wrist stabilization.
Like boxing gloves, genuine leather is always the best option, thanks to its durability, look, and feel. Synthetic leather substitutes are also good and offer almost the same qualities as the real thing.
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.
MMA gloves allow both to be done effectively as a sport with both striking and grappling, but some models perform better in one department. The bigger the glove is, the more striking protection it provides, and worse it is for grappling and vice versa.
The Fairtex FGV18 and the Everlast MMA grappling gloves are two examples on both ends of the spectrum. The Fairtex has outstanding striking protection but poor grappling protection, while the opposite is true for the Everlast model.
MMA gloves are much cheaper than boxing gloves because they use fewer materials. Higher-priced gloves usually last longer and feel better, but mid-tier models are also excellent and good enough for most people. Don't go for the cheapest ones if you respect your hand and your training partners.
Frequently Asked MMA Glove Questions
What Is The Best Brand Of MMA Gloves?
Famous brands are usually renowned for a reason. While with boxing gloves, legacy brands have been operating for many decades, MMA is a young sport, and Hayabusa has made the most significant impact with their equipment thus far.
What Gloves Do MMA Fighters Train With?
MMA fighters spar with sparring gloves and do drills with either sparring/hybrid or training gloves. Some prefer pro-style gloves (without any protection on the thumb), while others choose the more protective models.
Do MMA Gloves Hurt More Than Boxing Gloves?
MMA gloves 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 make contact with the head. The overall punch force of both gloves is similar, but superficial damage like cuts and bruises from MMA gloves is significantly greater.
Can You Spar With MMA Gloves?
Yes, MMA sparring is done with special MMA sparring gloves, which are different from competition gloves. Training and pro-style gloves are not suitable for sparring unless both participants are experienced and can dial down the power, while sparring gloves with their 7-ounce offer adequate protection for striking.
Why Are MMA Gloves Fingerless?
Grappling is a massive part of MMA, and 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?
MMA gloves should be tight enough so the hand won't move inside during a punch and while grappling, but it mustn't be so tight that it obstructs blood flow. If the gloves are too small and tight, they can prevent the flexing of the fingers, which will decrease grip efficiency.
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, usually scraping on the bag's surface. The overall level of protection is also not enough for most people.
However, there are MMA gloves with features designed for heavy bag use, and they are much better for the purpose than other gloves.
Can You Use MMA Gloves For Boxing?
No, you can't use MMA gloves for boxing. MMA gloves are too thin and small in size to be used in boxing sparring. You can use them for heavy bag work or pads, but if you are only training boxing, there is little benefit in using MMA gloves.
MMA gloves can have different purposes, but our choice of the best gloves falls to the Hayabusa T3 model. They have a great look and feel and provide excellent wrist support and unrivaled stability in the hand. For sparring, you need thicker gloves, and Fairtex FGV18 is the best choice in my personal experience.