If you’re serious about becoming a true, dedicated mixed martial arts competitor, you’re going to need some great MMA gloves to help you train for battle, and then to compete. There are several types of gloves available, and slight differences in the design, weight, and padding make different gloves more appropriate for different activities.
The biggest difference you’ll need to learn is the difference between MMA gloves used for actual battles in regulated competition, versus gloves used for practice and training. There are various types of gloves for training, but when it comes time to enter the ring for a real fight, there are very slim rules about what you can and cannot wear.
Generally, regulation grade gloves for MMA competition weigh no more than 4 ounces, but rules may differ depending on what organization or club is officiating the match, so check to be sure. The padding is slight: just enough to protect the hand by providing more of a barrier and more support than if you were fighting bare handed. The increased protection encourages fighters to try different approaches, with more sparring, with less risk of injury than without gloves.
But those regulation, competition MMA gloves have much less padding than the gloves you wear for training. In a fight, you want your hits to have more impact, but in practice, you don’t want yourself or your opponent to get hurt; after all, the goal is to practice a lot and if you’re injured, you can’t do that.
Practice gloves generally have more padding and often extra support in the wrist. Practice grappling gloves aren’t that much thicker than standard competition gloves. But practice sparring gloves have noticeably more cushion in them, to protect your hands and your practice mate’s face from injury.
A step up in padding takes you to ‘bag gloves,’ which are used when you train with a heavy punching bag. Punching bags are much heavier and denser, and more resistant, than one might think. Hitting the bag without proper support and reinforcement can cause serious damage to your hand.
Because each activity—competition, practicing sparring, and practicing with a bag—is quite different, they all require different MMA gloves. With the right gloves, you’ll be in optimum shape to get the most out of your practice, and perform your best in the ring.