Similar to boxing gloves, MMA mitts come in different types ranging from grappling to sparring and competition gloves. Mind you, these can’t be used in place of each other, at least most of the times. So, regardless of the model that you are eyeing, you’ll want to get it right from go.
This gear guide is a one-stop collection of 7 of the best MMA gloves in 2018. We’ve included a few of each type (competition, training, and sparring) to make your search easy. If you are pressed for time, our editor’s pick, best value, and third best gloves below are must-haves today. Otherwise, we also have a detailed guide on how to buy the best MMA gloves after the reviews.
MMA is hands down the most challenging branch of martial arts although the spectators don’t view it this way. As a fighter, you need to think strategically and know when to launch a certain move against your opponent in the most opportune time.
This means that you need to have the right mental reinforcement coupled with adequate training as well as a good pair of gloves. There isn’t anything like the best MMA gloves for anybody. But whichever brand you choose to go with should feel like an extension of you. You want it to be both comfortable and protective to your wrist and fist while allowing your fingers to move freely as though the gloves weren’t there at all.
RDX have curved an edge for themselves in this niche with their wide array of grappling, training, bag, and sparring gloves. But what actually makes them our go-to brand for our first pick of the best MMA gloves is the great value that they offer without taking the price over the roof.
These RDX gloves will suit the bill for an MMA practitioner who is looking for a high-quality pair of leather sparring gloves that can also be used for grappling.
The RDX gloves are made from different types of materials in a bid to offer you the best of all worlds. For instance, the main shell is made from pure cowhide leather mainly for durability reasons. This material also has excellent flexibility to allow easy finger movements.
In addition, these gloves have easily noticeable strengthened seams that not only hold the leather panels together but also maintain the padding in place.
Easy to deal with
Available in small, medium, large, and extra-large sizes, these RDX gloves are designed to be easy to put on thanks to the thoughtfully sized fingers and the Quick-EZ Velcro closure system.
The RDX might be a great pick if you are hunting for a durable pair of sparring and grappling MMA gloves. The 100% genuine cowhide material and the reinforced seams ooze durability and reliability while the thick protective padding beneath speaks volume about the level of protection that your knuckles and skin get. For the price and the quality of construction, we’d never hesitate to recommend these sparring gloves to you.
Hayabusa is a big name in martial art accessories and a common name on this site. Their T3 gloves are way much lighter than the RDX gloves above at 4 ounces. As you’ll soon find out, these are among the best MMA gloves for competition out there. But you could also use them for light sparring and speed development although we really recommend that you get a designated pair for that.
Ultra-durable outer shell
At its price, we didn’t expect anything less than genuine leather construction. This manufacturer claims that the shell has been tested for strength and to resist tears, cracks, and abrasion.
Interestingly, these gloves come pre-curved- a design that makes it easy to clench and maintain a strong fist without fatiguing easily.
Excellent hand and wrist stabilization
The Hayabusa T3 brings what the RDX gloves failed to offer: excellent wrist and hand support and stabilization. Of course, considering the minimal padding offered in these gloves, wrist and hand support and stabilization are must-have features.
These gloves are designed with 2 state-of-the-art technologies: Fusion Splinting technology and multi-directional Dual-X closure system.
Without getting too much into the details, Fusion Splinting technology is Hayabusa’s way of making the inner core of the gloves semi-rigid for optimal support and stable hand and wrist alignment. The Dual-X technology, on the other hand, is a closure system that ensures excellent ergonomic stability around the wrist region to protect you from sprains. Read more about Hayabusa technologies here.
The Hayabusa T3 has about everything that you could be looking for in the best MMA competition gloves. Among other things, we really like the genuine leather used for these gloves and the stitching. As it is the nature of leather products, don’t expect it to feel so nice at first. As a few of the reviewers affirm, it might feel a little bit stiff at first but will soften up with frequent usage.
Filling our third slot in our reviews of the best MMA gloves 2018 is a model that is here to offer quality without costing you the earth. The manufacturer- Anthem Athletics- won’t feature in any list of the most popular MMA gloves brands. But this particular item is getting a good press among other respected models on the market today.
Full-grain cowhide leather
Honestly, at the price that these gloves come at, pure leather would be our least expectations. But it’s great that this brand can still offer it. The benefits of pure leather construction are endless.
First and foremost, this material’s durability aspect means that you are getting a pair of glove that will most likely become a part of you for a lengthy time.
It’s also super flexible and, therefore, offers a good amount of dexterity for all your grappling and clinching needs.
Quite unique from the Hayabusa T3 above, most users of the Anthem Athletics say that the break-in period was superbly short (2 days with medium to intense use) and also smooth with no bruises.
Palm and wrist construction
These are 2 other areas that we really liked about the Anthem Athletics. The palm, for instance, is wide open to complement the flexibility of the fingers. This design also makes holding items such as a bottle of water or a phone much easier. In addition, it’s also a great way of improving breathability and preventing excessive sweating.
Padding and usage
The Anthem Athletics is available in 2 versions. The model that we are looking at here weighs 4 ounces and it’s ideal for fight-like training and bouts. There is also a 7-ounce model that you might want to add into your sparring gloves collection. This second version also fits the bill for starters and intermediate MMA practitioners who want an affordable and durable pair of sparring gloves that will offer support and protection at a budget.
Anthem Athletics isn’t a household name and remains a stranger to most people. But its Predator gloves are raising the bar not only in terms of affordability but on comfort and quality fronts too. The fact that these gloves are crafted from pure leather is a bit hard to believe considering the price, but of course, not all good things cost the earth. If you are looking for quality at a low budget, you have our word on these.
Next on is a model that you’ll most certainly fall in love with especially if: (1) you don’t mind polyurethane and (2) if you are looking for an affordable yet reliable pair of gloves for irregular use. So, what’s the big deal with these beauties?
Polyurethane… but amazingly durable!
Scanning the reviews sections across the internet, one thing that astounds most people is the amount of beating that these gloves can withstand despite being made from synthetic leather. This can be attributed to the premium polyurethane used coupled with the quality stitches.
Fits well and it’s comfortable
Most users have also reported that they also fit well right off the bat including female fighters- this is a bonus feature that eliminates most people’s worry of ill-fitting gloves. Worth mentioning here is that these gloves are available in large and extra large sizes weighing 10oz and 12oz respectively.
Additional features that make the Cheerwing one of the best MMA gloves in 2018 include the EVA sponge used for the padding around the knuckles and on the upper side of your wrist.
This padding makes these gloves an excellent choice for sparring, heavy bags, and training. And this means that you can switch from one activity to another without having to change the gloves.
About your comfort, the Cheerwing UFC MMA mitts feature a nicely constructed thumb cage with a good padding to prevent you from injuries when pounding the heavy bag or an opponent.
The palms again have a green screen cloth that absorbs all perspirations to keep you cool and dry. However, keeping in mind that this is polyester, having another way of controlling sweat (hand wraps for instance) might be a good idea.
There is so much to love about the Cheerwing UFC MMA gloves and very little to hate. Of course, we hate that they won’t last as long as the slightly pricier full-grain leather gloves above. But for the price, the quality of construction, and the level of protection that these gloves offer, we can highly recommend them if you are looking for hybrid MMA gloves that you can use for more than one activity.
RDX is back again, this time around with a solution for fighters who don’t fancy leather MMA gloves but would like something more durable than the traditional synthetic leather.
Enter Maya leather
All along, this material has emerged to be a viable option for people who are looking for an alternative to leather. As we have explained in the buying guide section later in this article, Maya leather is premium polyurethane that portrays most genuine leather’s characteristics including flexibility, temperature control, and smooth feel. In addition, albeit not as durable as real leather, Maya leather is far much durable than other types of synthetic leather including vinyl.
Looks and feels great
The RDX Maya MMA gloves are available in a range of colors including black, blue, pink, and red. It also comes in all sizes; small, medium, large, and extra large so you can pick a model that fits just right for your hands.
These gloves are all about giving you an easy time in the gym. They boast heavily padded curves around the knuckles for total protection from shock impacts and a moisture-wicking interior to keep your palms dry inside the gloves. On the same note, the palms feature a D-cut that further boosts breathability.
Similar to their sibling- and our top model here- these gloves are also fitted with RDX’s Quick-EZ hook and loop closure system that makes putting them ON and OFF fast when switching activities. It also offers you a snug fit and above-average support on your wrists.
Not every one of us loves donning leather attires including boxing and MMA gloves. On the other hand, we like the durability, flexibility, breathability, and the supple feel that only leather gloves boast. RDX understands this and has offered an unbeatable alternative with their Maya leather mitts.
Anyone who is in need of the best MMA gloves besides leather gloves is better off with these models. They may not last forever; but the key benefits are evident: guilt-free, affordable, great feel, supportive, and full of protection.
Sanabul is all about excellence, and nothing proves this better than its latest line of products; New Item. From this line is one of the best MMA gloves for the money, the Battle Forged. Why should you consider these mitts?
One feature that attracted us to the Sanabul Battle Forged MMA gloves is their versatility. These are 4-ounce gloves and perhaps best suited for real fight-like training. Their free thumb design is an indication that they are intended to allow maximum freedom in terms of all-finger movements both when standing and on the mat.
The padded knuckles, however, mean that you can also spar lightly with them. Thus, you don’t have to change gloves, for instance, if you are switching from sparring to grappling. This versatility makes them a good pick if you are allowed just a few seconds to get ready for another session during your mixed martial art classes.
At a glance, the Sanabul Battle Forged gloves seem like they are made from genuine leather but they are not. Instead, they use Sanabul’s very own engineered leather that feels both solid and durable especially after considering its seemingly strong stitching.
Sanabul has done a really good job with the Battle Forged MMA gloves. It’s not the flashiest model in our reviews of the best MMA gloves. But it will definitely interest you if you prefer neutral colors. It might also be a good choice for people who want a pair of glove that can be used for several tasks confidently.
There would never be a better way to end these best MMA gloves reviews than with the most irresistible mitts on the market today; the Venum Undisputed 2.0
Truly undisputable construction
The Venum 2.0 MMA gloves are made from Nappa leather – Yes, the one that is used for high-end automobiles’ interiors including the BMW 7 Series.
Nappa leather is a type of full-grain leather usually obtained from calves and lambs by tanning. This leather is soft to the touch and amazingly breathable, but also super tough, durable, and hard to spoil. This explains why its products cost top dollar.
Other than its top-end construction materials, another interesting feature of these gloves is that they have been hand-crafted in Thailand. Of course, this is a big deal in that it ensures that all the features appertaining to your comfort and safety are dealt with by experienced craftsperson rather than robots.
To add to its already convincing features, the Undisputed 2.0 MMA gloves feature a curved-shaped design that conforms to your hand for a good fit and a powerful fist that allows you to deliver your punches in full power.
Venum didn’t stop at that!
Beneath the leather are several layers of padding that guarantees your knuckles and fingers incredible support when sparring or punching the bag. The fingers and thumb openings have also been reinforced and smoothened for durability and to prevent digging into your skin.
They also have high wrist support that makes them an all-around protective gear plus a strong Velcro to seal the deal and to help with hand pre-positioning.
If you have a small fortune that you want to spend on a high-end pair of MMA gloves, this model might be what you are looking for. The Nappa leather used for it is a say-it-all!
This is a high-end pair of gloves that have been hand-crafted to meet even the minutest details concerning your safety and comfort needs while in the gym. It feels soft and supple yet solid and durable. Again, we like that it is available in all sizes and in an array of color designs; white, black, matte, neo pink, neo orange, and neo yellow to meet everybody’s needs.
In a combat sport with so much freedom in terms of punching, kicking, and grappling, one might actually wonder why MMA gloves are so important.
Well, you could look at it in 2 ways. First and foremost, the main intention of MMA gloves is to protect the fighters’ hands (wrists and knuckles) from injuries.
If you’ve ever hit a heavy bag at full throttle with your naked fists, then you’ll know that it’s not the best experience in life. When you land your punches right on a heavy bag repeatedly, its surface may cause burns, scrapes, and even cuts that may turn soar and cause an excruciating pain later.
Again, due to the possible injuries that may result, you’ll often find yourself forming a tightly closed fist thereby slowing down the punches a bit and even changing their trajectory when you are hitting the bag or your opponent’s skull.
This is usually not the case if you’ve armed yourself with the best MMA gloves for competition. These gloves are padded to protect your knuckles and wrists. And this is a green light to unleash your fury and bang on the bag or your opponent’s head more often without the fear of getting hurt.
On the same subject, MMA gloves are relatively lighter and notably compact than boxing gloves. This construction design makes breaking through the opponent’s guard easy than it would be with boxing and Muay Thai gloves.
The second reason why MMA gloves are so important is to lessen the injurious effects of your punches once they land on your opponent’s cranium. Remember that the objective of mixed martial arts is to entertain without necessarily maiming the opponent.
However, in as much as the padding in MMA gloves do help in softening the blows for the receiver (including you), keep in mind that competition gloves have the least padding (4-6 ounces). This is only enough to protect the thrower’s knuckles from the opponent’s hard skull and teeth but it’s not good enough to make a well-thrown punch less brutal. That being said, you still want to work on your defense skills.
HOW WE SELECTED THE BEST MMA GLOVES
MMA gloves come in 3 different types designed for different tasks; sparring gloves, grappling gloves, and competition gloves. Although in their entirety each of these varieties is crafted with grappling in mind, you’ll find out later in this guide that each classification is intended for a certain task and not the other. And this is to say that their roles cannot be interchanged. We’ll talk more about this in a few minutes.
The type plus the number of pairs that you’ll need to go for depends on what you’ll be doing with them plus why you are into MMA.
For instance, if you practice mixed martial arts as a cardio workout to help you burn excess fat, it’s certain that you’ll have no business with competition gloves. The best MMA sparring gloves and grappling gloves might be just the right picks for you.
On the other hand, if you want to brand your name in the UFCone day, you’ll want to add one of the best MMA gloves for competition besides grappling and sparring gloves.
So, what exactly are these gloves?
MMA Grappling gloves
These gloves go by a few other names including training, grappling, hybrid, and bag gloves. Although several manufacturers and most information resources tend to make all these varieties seem like the same thing, there are a few nuances between them.
True to their name, MMA grappling gloves are intelligently constructed purposely for grappling. You’ll be able to pick them out from the rest since they have segmented fingers with a padding to the first finger although some brands have it up to the second. The main aim of this design is to offer the fighter optimum dexterity with finger movements. This makes grappling easy.
MMA style bag gloves: these models are quite different from standard grappling gloves in that they are intended to help more in working the bag. Thus, besides having a little bit more padding for your knuckles, they also have a grip bar- yes, similar to the one you’d find in most boxing gloves). This bar helps you create and maintain a tightly clenched fist but definitely makes grappling a little bit difficult on the other hand. Therefore, if you want to up your grappling skills and create more muscles at the same time, you might need each of these 2 gloves.
MMA Sparring gloves
If you are an aspiring competition fighter, you’ll need to prepare yourself for real-life combat by sparring with a friend. MMA sparring gloves are way much different from grappling gloves and competition gloves (discussed below) in that they have more padding (upwards of 7 ounces) to protect the fighter from sprains and the opponent from injuries.
Worth mentioning, as thick as a 7-ounce sparring glove seems to you, remember that it is designed around the idea that you’ll focus more on timing and accuracy rather than in power. And that is to say that the 7 ounces of padding won’t be of much help to your knuckles or your opponent once you decide to go full throttle.
If you want to engage in some serious sparring sessions without limitations in terms of padding, it might be a great idea to consider heavy regular boxing gloves in the 10-16 oz range.
On the same subject, it’s good to keep in mind that sparring gloves tend to take the most punishment and might, therefore, break easily. That being said, you don’t want to skimp on these. Sure, the best MMA sparring gloves might cost you a pretty penny. But you’ll also be getting a better punch in terms of quality construction especially in terms of seams and protective padding.
You guessed right; these gloves are designed purposely for competition bouts. They are far much lighter than other MMA gloves and also feature the least amount of padding.
Typically, the best MMA gloves for competition weigh around 4 ounces but you’ll also find some that weigh 6 ounces- these are designed for people with larger hands.
These models also differ from sparring gloves in that their finger segments are separated to facilitate grappling.
Worth putting in mind is that the padding in MMA competition gloves is intended to protect the fighter and the opponent from cuts and not to soften the blows in any way. That being said, it might be quintessential to wind a hand wrap around your knuckles, wrists, and between the fingers for additional support and protection. Check out our other article about the best hand wraps for boxing for some recommendations.
Having narrowed down to the best type of MMA gloves for your needs, the next step would be to determine the type of material used for the gloves. Obviously, the type of material dictates a few variables including the price of the gloves, durability, and comfort.
Leather gloves are the most recommendable due to their durability and breathability. Genuine leather makes these accessories quite pricier compared to other materials. But it makes the best MMA gloves for all categories (grappling, sparring, and competition). Leather mitts are also the most durable provided they are cared for properly.
Synthetic leather gloves, on the other hand, offer an inexpensive alternative to leather gloves. This material can range from vinyl to polyurethane and now to Maya (RDX’s closest alternative to leather).
Polyurethane is the cheapest form of synthetic leather and makes the best MMA gloves for beginners and practitioners who are not into serious mixed martial arts. It might also suit you if you don’t practice on a regular basis. Polyurethane MMA gloves look and feel good but they offer the least durability.
Vinyl is a little bit more resilient than polyurethane and, therefore, offers a more durable surface. However, it will never come any closer to leather gloves in terms of durability.
Maya is the latest entrant in the world of synthetic leather but it has quite a lot to offer. It is more or less a premium version of polyurethane and the closest imitation of genuine leather. It retains its smoothness and suppleness for a long time and tends to crack and wrinkle just like real leather.
So, which is better, leather or synthetic?
Of course, leather has the upper hand on most fronts: it is durable, breathable, and feels nicest. However, keep in mind that the quality of leather will vary from brand to another. Or put in another way, you can’t compare crappy leather to a premium synthetic leather glove.
Secondly, remember that the durability of your gloves also depends on how good you take care of them. If you don’t treat your leather gloves well, or if you use a pair of competition gloves for heavy bag, don’t expect it to last a couple of decades.
MMA gloves come in different sizes and are classified as regular, medium, large, and XL. These sizes refer to the circumference around the 4 knuckles of a clenched fist.
Thus, to determine the right fit for you;
- Clench a fist with your strongest hand
- Using a cloth measuring tape, measure the distance along the four knuckles and over the thumb’s knuckle, and just below your fist’s curve
- If you wear a hand wrap before putting on the MMA gloves, it’s of paramount importance that you measure the circumference with the wraps on.
Here are the most common MMA glove sizes;
- Regular and Medium- 7.5 – 8.5 inches
- Large- 8.5 – 9.5 inches
- XL- 9.5 inches and above
Note that similar to other fighting apparels that require sizing, there are certain brands that will require you to go either an inch or half up or down. Going through the review’s section of each item might also give you a clearer picture of whether the gloves do fit to size or not.
Q: Can you spar with MMA competition gloves?
A: We would never advocate for that. Keep in mind that MMA competition gloves have the least padding at 4-6 oz. There is virtually no form of protection in these gloves considering that the best MMA sparring gloves weigh 8-10 ounces due to the heavy padding used.
Sparring with competition gloves is more or less like exercising bare-knuckled which can have deleterious effects on your hands and on your opponent. In fact, we doubt there is anyone who will accept to spar with you using these gloves.
Q: How many MMA gloves should you buy?
A: If you are not into anything serious, just a single pair or 2 of MMA training gloves might be ideal for you. On the other hand, a serious mixed martial art practitioner with an intention of competing in the future should have a couple of these gloves. Ideally, you’ll need at least one pair of MMA bag gloves, grappling gloves, and sparring gloves at first then competition gloves once you qualify for competition cage fighting.
Q: What are the differences between MMA gloves and boxing gloves?
A: Traditional boxing gloves are designed to offer maximum protection since your hands are your only weapon in the cage. Thus, they are bigger, bulkier, and heavier than MMA gloves.
On the other hand, MMA gloves are smaller and lighter in that their fingers and palms are exposed to allow grappling and using an array of submission techniques.
Q: Can MMA gloves be washed in the washer?
A: Both boxing and MMA gloves can get really dirty and stinky especially if they are not taken good care of. But never be tempted to throw them inside your washing machine as this will probably shred them or destroy their padding.
Keeping your gloves is much easier than most people think;
- Always wrap your hands before sliding your hands into the gloves. This prevents the transfer of too much sweat to the gloves
- If possible, hang them as you head home rather than stuffing them in your gym bag
- If you have to carry them in the gym bag, remove them first thing after reaching home and hang them in a dry place to dry
- To clean them, use a disinfectant wipe to wipe the insides and outsides
- Always wash your hands before putting on your gloves