Types Of MMA Gloves: What’s The Difference?


Are you ready to get into MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) but not sure what sort of equipment you need to do the sport right? One of the great things about MMA is that competition is all about the body. It’s about your muscle, your strength and flexibility, your reflexes and quick thinking, and your knowledge of the most effective moves.

Because of that, there’s not much equipment needed in the sport. The most important thing you’ll need is a good pair of MMA gloves. If you’re new to mixed martial arts, you might not have a good sense of what the purposes of different gloves are. Of course, you could always ask someone who competes or trains where you do. But it’s not a bad idea to get acquainted with the differences first, so you know what you’re talking about and can overcome the learning curve faster.

There are basically four types of MMA gloves:

  1. Fight/grappling gloves: Used, of course, for fights, these gloves must meet any regulations for weight and padding that govern your competition. Fighting gloves have a lower amount of padding than any of the practice gloves, allowing them to deliver more force to the opponent during combat.
  2. Sparring gloves are used to spar during practice. They have extra padding to protect your hands as well as the people you practice with. It’s important that everyone avoid injury during practice, so you should never use standard fight gloves for this purpose.
  3. Bag gloves: Also for practice and not competition, bag gloves have even more padding than sparring gloves, and of course more than regulation fight gloves. They are used for practicing with a heavy punching bag. This delivers not only more force to your fist (hence the padding), but also you wrist, so they include addition wrist support as well. Bag MMA gloves should be used ONLY for bag practice, never in competition or even practice sparring.
  4. Hybrid gloves: A fourth but less popular option, hybrid gloves share aspects of grappling, sparring, and bag gloves. If you’re only going to buy one pair, they will suffice (but are usually not eligible for competition), but for each activity, hybrid MMA gloves are never as good as gloves intended specifically for that purpose.


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