Fighting gloves have been around for less than 25 years as it came around at the same time that the UFC (Unified Fighting Championships) started way back in 1993. The UFC came about through the efforts of Rorion Gracie, a Jiu Jitsu practitioner from Brazil who settled in the United States in the early 1980’s. Gracie started conducting Jiu Jitsu classes inside his garage, which was mostly composed of close friends and neighbors. He frequently invited local martial artists within the vicinity to practice with him to compare fighting styles to see which fighting method had more advantages over the other with regards to offensive techniques. This kept going on for 10 years before Gracie finally decided to take his Jiu Jitsu classes to a more suitable venue, which eventually required him to put up his own dojo. This drew in people who came from different disciplines such as muay thai, karate, tae kwondo, judo and even boxing, which eventually led Gracie to organize the first UFC tournament.
The first UFC1 was held in Colorado since it was the only state in the United States that allowed fighting competitions that did not require the use of any protective gear whatsoever. Although it went without saying that it was a complete success considering that it was the first fighting competition that pitted fighters coming from different disciplines against each other using their own brand of fighting technique, Gracie though that it would be best to oblige competitors to use a minimal amount of safety protection, especially on their hands. It was then agreed amongst the organizers that gloves should be used in order to reduce any amount of injuries on the fighter’s hands since the UFC is a culmination of different fighting styles that do not follow any regulated rules except those that prohibit biting, head butts and directly hitting the groins. It’s now accepted as essential boxing gear.
The organizers now needed to see through it that there should be a standing rule that gloves should be used as they were deciding to expand the competition across other states and some states require a minimum amount of protection when it comes to fighting competitions. This became the reason for the creation of the very first fighting gloves used in mixed fighting tournaments. Fighting gloves are designed very differently compared to those of boxing gloves, which are heavily padded and cover the entire hands. Since competitors in mixed fighting competitions need the freedom of their hands to effectively execute their preferred fighting technique, the organizers of the UFC sought the advise of the competitors themselves to come out with a universal fighting glove design that would meet the approval of the competitors, along with the sporting commission of each and every participating state in which competitions would be held.
The result was a glove design like no other, which has a natural contour that follows the ergonomic natural shape of the knuckles.
The compact curved design of fighting gloves was meant to keep the hands in a semi-opened position, allowing the wearer total freedom with regard to using their fingers to grapple their opponents since the method of grappling is allowed under UFC rules. You might say that fighting gloves closely resembles ski glove with the way that they fit the hands as its curved knuckle design was made to reduce hand fatigue. Fighting gloves are also designed with an open palm segment, which unlike regular boxing gloves allows the wearer more mobility of their hands, which enhances their dexterity.
The only similarity that fighting gloves have in common with boxing gloves is the wrist area which is padded to give ample protection from excessive pivotal movements. The wrist area is securely fastened using Velcro straps, which enables the wearer to quickly remove it whenever they want without much difficulty. Compared to boxing gloves which require the wearer to apply hand wraps prior to wearing the gloves, UFC fighters have a the convenience of using elastic hand wraps that are designed to be worn on to the hands instead of the traditional hand wraps. This elastic hand wrap gives ample protection to the hands by applying just enough pressure similar to that of hand wraps, but in a more convenient manner. And since mixed martial arts competitors need their hands to have total mobility, the stretchable qualities of elastic hand wraps enable competitors to execute their fighting technique without much difficulty.
Nowadays there are a lot of brands available and all of them have at least a few pair of fighting gloves. Popular brands like Cleto Reyes, Ringside, Everlast and Grant boxing are also worn by the professional boxers.
With regard to glove weight, fighting gloves do not really fall into any specific weight regulation just as long as they all follow a single type of design and may only vary in sizes and colors. Of course it all depends on the boxer’s weight and level. There are special boxing gloves for kids, women and man. High quality fighting gloves are made from the finest pure leather suede that cover the entire gloves since suede is one of the softest type of leather that can be used in very thin consistencies without compromising its strength. Leather suede is also highly resistant to moisture if processed correctly and can be very sticky to the skin once it comes into contact with it during a match. It is no wonder why most mixed martial arts competitors suffer cuts on the brows which is usually a result of leather fighting gloves ripping the brow of an opponent. Although most finishing moves used by fighters to knock their opponents down or into submission could be the use of lethal kicking techniques or even grappling maneuvers, straight punches that land on an opponent’s jaw are still some of the best moments in any form of full contact sports.
The history involved in the creation of fighting gloves has definitely changed the way how people see full contact sports much differently. It can be said the glove designs reflect the way how certain types of gloves, whether that be for boxing or mixed martial arts, try to conform with how they would be used accordingly by those who compete with their respective fighting methods. Unlike boxing that has a detailed guideline of its rules, mixed martial arts has a broader set of rules that may seem unorthodox to many who are used to watch boxing matches. It is without a doubt that mixed martial arts is here to stay and that it offers a new form of raw excitement to those who watch it.