Unlike boxing, MMA does not have much by way of protective gear. But that doesn’t mean that it is all bare-knuckled punching and kicking. If there is one piece of essential equipment for mixed martial arts, it is a pair of MMA gloves.
Truth be told, you shouldn’t restrict yourself to one pair. In fact, according to the pros in UFC and other pro competitions, you will need several pairs of specialized MMA gloves to keep yourself in shape and primed for the octagon.
So if you are a beginner/amateur to this adrenaline-inducing sport, you could use some guidance about purchasing the best MMA gloves. If that is why you are here, rest assured, your search is over. We have the most comprehensive buyer’s guide and top five reviews of the best MMA gloves of 2022.
By the way, if you are in a rush, check out our comparison table of the top five products. There you will find all the relevant info, sans any walls of text! Enjoy!
Best MMA Gloves of 2022
|RDX GGRF12B Grappling & Sparring (Editor’s Choice)||S, M, L, XL||Maya Hide Leather||Polymax contoured Tri-Slab PC3||Black; Blue; Pink; Red|
|Cheerwing Leather Gloves||L, XL||PU leather||Multi-layer foam||Black; Blue; Gold; Red; White|
|RDX GGL T1B||S, M, L, XL||100% authentic full grain cowhide leather||Extra-thick foam, shock dissipating gel||Black; Goldan/Black; Black/Neo Orange; Black/Neo Yellow; Black/Red; Black/White|
|Venum Challenger Gloves||S, M, L/XL||Semi leather||High density foam||Black; Black/Gray|
|Combat Sports Max Strike Training Gloves||L, XL, Regular||Leather||2″ of molded foam padding||Blue; Red; White|
1. RDX GGRF12B – Best Synthetic Leather Gloves For Grappling & Sparring
These are synthetic leather sparring gloves from RDX. They are available in four different colors, black, red, blue, and pink. Four different size options are also on offer. They weigh 6 ounces and have extra padding than competition gloves. These gloves are suitable for both men and women.
The best thing about these RDX gloves is the superior mobility you get for grappling. The fingers are all separated, and you can get a full range of motion, despite the extra padding on offer. So you can use these gloves for grappling, sparring, and some basic bag workouts.
Though these are not genuine leather, the synthetic Maya leather is no slouch. The stuff is made from durable PU and looks and feels quite a bit like real cowhide leather. It is also quite durable. These RDX MMA gloves look like they can withstand heavy use.
And yes, these gloves do have a couple of neat features that promote overall breathability and comfort. They have used a moisture wicking fabric liner inside. This liner, in conjunction with a D-cut vent on the palm grip area, allows your sweat to escape easily, causing less discomfort even after long and grueling training sessions.
The main disadvantage here is that these are not the real deal when it comes to the leather material. They are affordable synthetic gloves, premium quality, yet still synthetic. They will not last as long as genuine leather.
They are not really cut out for heavy bag workouts. The gloves will start to crack and peel if you keep using them to hit the punching bag. They also need some time to get broken in and exude a white powdery substance in the initial days of use. This doesn’t feel very good.
If you are keen on regular MMA sparring and grappling, with an occasional session on the bags, these RDX gloves should offer a perfect fit. They are slightly on the pricier side for synthetic gloves, but they do deliver some value when used within their limitations. Don’t buy it if you plan to use it on punching bags.
- Excellent for grappling and sparring
- More padding than competition gloves
- Breathable and moisture wicking design
- For both men and women
- Not as durable as genuine leather
- Will degrade if used on bags
- A tad overpriced
2. Cheerwing Leather Gloves – Most Affordable For Bag Workouts
These are very affordably priced synthetic leather gloves for MMA. Crafted from PU leather, these gloves are available in five bright colors, black, white, red, blue, and yellow. You can choose from two size options, large and extra large. They have heavy foam padding and top the weight charts at around 10oz.
At 10oz, these gloves have a lot of padding, especially around the knuckles. If you want to do heavy MMA bag work without buying boxing gloves, these are what you need. They don’t offer as much protection as boxing gloves, but they provide more than most other MMA sparring/hybrid gloves.
Along with padding, you also get quite a bit of finger mobility for grappling. So this is a good option for balanced MMA workouts that involve a bit of everything. Plus, Cheerwing has priced these synthetic gloves quite well in comparison to the competition.
These MMA gloves are also quite comfortable, with breathable screen clothing layers inside. The Velcro straps also offer a very comfortable fit on your wrists. They also offer excellent wrist support, with extra padding.
You don’t get too many size options here. If you have medium/large size hands, these Cheerwing gloves should fit okay. But for many others, there are no size options available in this particular listing.
Let’s also not overlook that budget pricing. These are cheap synthetic gloves. They have their virtues, but premium build quality and durability are not among those.
The moisture management systems do not work very well either. These are comfortable gloves, but after long sessions, you will end up feeling very sweaty in the palm area. Unless you remember to air these gloves, expect them to stink big time the next time you put them on!
Overall, these are fantastic options for folks on a budget. They offer excellent value for money, with just the right mix of features. The design is optimized for bag workouts as well as some grappling and sparring as well.
- Enough padding for moderate to heavy bag workouts
- Flexible enough for sparring too
- Excellent value for money
- Good wrist support
- No premium durability or comfort on offer
- Not available for small sizes
- Moisture management is not up to the mark
3. RDX GGL T1B – Best Genuine Leather Gloves For Punching and Grappling
These are the first authentic leather gloves on our shortlist. They are a more premium offering from RDX, in comparison to their synthetic gloves featured above. They have advanced padding for boxing, and also offer several features to aid in grappling. These gloves are available in plain black, and gold-black combo designs. Four sizes are available, covering most users. The gloves weigh around 6-7oz.
Durable leather construction is the main highlight here. The cowhide leather looks and feels luxurious and comfortable, not to mention ruggedly as anything. The stitching quality is also top notch on these RDX gloves.
These are excellent gloves for some heavy punching sessions involving your favorite bag. The foam is extra-reinforced for maximum protection. There are multiple layers of different materials here, offering best in class protection for your knuckles against shock waves. It uses advanced gel-based padding technology.
Moisture wicking is superb on RDX gloves, and these leather versions do not disappoint in that aspect. The fingers have special management features. This improves your chances of getting a good grip during grapples. So this is a very versatile pair of gloves indeed.
The open finger design does work against these gloves somewhat. In some instances, the top-heavy design does lead to increased risk of cuts on your knuckles. One solution is to wear hand wraps, but then that would render the open finger design quite redundant. Though they have tried to create a very versatile glove for punching and grappling, for some users at least, this might end up being a one trick pony.
The gloves have a premium pricing, which is somewhat justified due to the materials and technology used. But they do not offer enough in the durability department, or so we felt during the testing. These do last longer than a cheapo synthetic glove, but not by a huge margin.
Overall, if you want a genuine leather MMA glove that can withstand heavy boxing sessions, this is not a bad choice. The design is there to offer mobility for grappling, but for fear of injury, you may feel like foregoing that instead and focus on working with hand wraps. They are not half bad if you consider all the aspects.
- Premium quality leather gloves
- Advanced shock-proof padding
- Excellent for bag workouts
- Outstanding moisture wicking features
- A tad overpriced
- Durability could improve
- May cause cuts if used without wraps
4. Venum Challenger Gloves – Best Vinyl Gloves For Sparring
These are multi-material MMA gloves that use synthetic vinyl leather as the main ingredient. These are budget oriented gloves from the well known Venum brand and do not offer the features you would find on their top-end gear. The gloves are available in black, with attractive designs in gray, red, white, and neon shades. There are three sizes on offer in these 7oz sparring gloves.
Affordability is the main highlight of these gloves. Coming from such an established brand, these Made in Thailand gloves offer a mix of big-name quality and some nice features. For starters, the gloves are more suited for sparring with a partner/trainer and grappling. And they offer excellent performance on those fronts.
The gloves are also quite eye-catching. They have a very stylish design, and the looks do manage to hold up even with heavy use. In some ways, these are very durable gloves, with limitations of course.
The gloves feel quite comfortable on your hands. The wrist straps have a double layered design for extra support. The adjustable straps offer a decent fit.
The padding and protection on offer are not very impressive. If you want something to work on a punching bag, this is not it, period. The vinyl material used is not premium like PU and does not last as long either.
Though you can grapple with these, the thumb hole design is a significant weakness. It is not durable enough and might tear after many grappling sessions. This does undercut the overall value proposition of these training gloves.
These are strictly okay gloves from Venum. The build quality is not the best, and there is not enough padding to allow you any serious bag work. They do look good, and on a tight budget, these might offer just enough features for you.
- An affordable product from an established brand
- Flexibility for grappling and regular MMA sparring
- Excellent wrist support
- Eye-catching design
- Not very durable
- Not suitable for heavy bag work
- Thumbhole needs reinforcing
5. Combat Sports Max Strike Training Gloves – Best All Round Gloves For Bag Workouts & Grappling
These are a pair of sparring MMA gloves that you can use instead of regular boxing gloves for bag training. Made from synthetic materials with some leather bits on fingers, these Combat Sports gloves are available in three colors, red, blue, and white. Size options include just three: regular, large, and extra large. The fingers on these gloves are not separated.
You get a whopping 2 inches of foam padding from these punching mitts. That, combined with a palm design that supports some grappling, make these excellent choices for heavier bag work and some sparring/grappling thrown into the mix. That is their main advantage over other gloves.
Along with that fully open palm, you also get hinged knuckles on these gloves. The overall effect is a superior range of motion compared to other sparring gloves. The wrist strap also offers excellent support right where you need it the most.
Overall build quality is also quite satisfactory, considering the price point. These gloves do not have full leather construction, but the genuine leather bits do feel quite decent. The rest is durable synthetics.
There are some metal bits in the clasp on the wrist. These will cut through the sift synthetic bits and eventually hurt your hands, or worse, your sparring partners. That is a poor design choice.
Despite some genuine leather bits, the overall feel of these gloves is quite sub-standard and not at all premium. Even the real leather bits are not up to the mark when compared to other cowhide leather gloves.
The overall performance falls a bit short when compared to both thinner MMA gloves (for grappling) and thicker boxing gloves (for bag workouts). So in the end, it ends up feeling like a jack of all trades, master of none.
If you want to focus properly on all aspects of your MMA training, these might not be the best option, because of the con mentioned above. You are better off buying a thinner MMA glove for sparring/grappling and boxing gloves for heavy bags. But if you really want a single pair of gloves for passable workouts in both, these Combat Sports gloves might be just about worth a buy.
- Extra thick padding all around
- Enough flexibility for some grappling as well
- Decent pricing
- Has some genuine leather bits
- Overall build quality is not premium
- Mediocre all-around performance
- Durability is not up to the mark
What kind of equipment do I need to start training in MMA?
All you need is one peek at any UFC match to realize that you don’t need much gear to get started in MMA. Besides the quite visible gloves, shorts, and shoes, the sport also involves the following pieces of equipment:
- Gum shield – to save your mouth from a world of pain!
- Boxing sparring gloves – for training especially if your preferred style is based on fists.
- Rashguard – spandex tees that help you avoid rashes, cuts, mat burns et al.
- Shin Guards – essential if you have a background in muay thai or other kickboxing styles
- Running shoes – because of feet.
Are MMA gloves really essential for mixed martial arts training?
The gloves are there for a reason, or rather, for several reasons. Chief among them is safety for your knuckles, fingers, wrists, the entire hand area. If you are only planning to do some casual training, you can knock yourself out (or not!) with a pair of boxing gloves.
But that only covers one aspect of MMA- punching, Fancy grappling in a pair of boxing gloves? Now you see why they have specialized gloves for this sport. Besides, if you are serious about going into competitions, you will need officially sanctioned gloves. They are pretty strict about that kind of thing.
So yeah, unless you are casually dipping your feet into a couple of rounds of MMA at your local gym, you should consider investing in a pair of MMA gloves, or two. Here is more about the different types of MMA gloves.
What are the different types of MMA gloves?
There are basically three different types of gloves used in MMA. Each of these is designed to focus on one or several aspects of the sport. Let’s try to understand them in detail.
1. Competition Gloves:
MMA competition gloves can vary slightly, depending on various competition rules and regulations regarding equipment. But in broad terms, these are lightweight gloves which weigh around the 4-ounce mark. For some competitions, you can even see the weights go lower than 4 ounces.
They tend to have minimal padding. The focus is more on speed and power delivery with these gloves. These gloves do offer some protection, but it is still on the lower side. You will have to use a pair of decent hand wraps inside, or your hands will take some brutalizing the next time you step inside the cage/octagon.
The finger design also sets competition level gloves apart from the rest. These gloves have separated fingers, to allow more freedom of movement. This enables fighters to grapple with their opponents during bouts.
2. Sparring Gloves:
When not involved in tournament level play, you might want to opt for a bit more padding and protection. This is where the heavier MMA sparring gloves enter the scene. They weigh around the 7-ounce mark, due to the extra thick material used.
These gloves can be used for MMA sparring rounds, and also bag workouts. But if you are serious about competition play, you should not restrict yourself to using sparring gloves during training.
Experts stress the need to familiarize yourself with competition equipment well before you step into that cage. So you should mix in some sparring sessions involving competition gloves as well if you are serious about taking up MMA as a sport.
Sparring gloves are not suitable for grappling exercises. Since these are optimized for bag workouts, they have a design that resembles boxing gloves. Like the latter, many MMA sparring gloves usually have a grip bar that allows you to curl your hands into a punching fist.
Many pros actually recommend using proper boxing gloves for your bag workouts, if you want to up your boxing credentials in the cage. You can use sparring gloves for extra protection during MMA sparring.
3. Hybrid Gloves:
These gloves have several different names. They may also be called training MMA gloves, bag gloves, grappling gloves, among other things. As the name suggests, these gloves combine elements from both competition and sparring gloves.
The fingers are separated so that you can grapple quite effectively with these gloves. But they are slightly heavier than competition gloves, as they have some padding in the knuckles. This is often restricted to the area covering the second knuckle.
So with these hybrid gloves, your hands and knuckles are not left completely bare and open for trauma/injury. And yet at the same time, you can still hone your grappling skills while wearing them. For truly mixed training sessions, these are often the best choice.
Which gloves are better – leather or synthetic?
Natural leather and synthetic leather are the two main options when it comes to MMA gloves. Out of the two, there is no doubt that natural leather is the better option, by a country mile too. The only thing that holds it back is the cost.
Natural leather products tend to be pricier, but what you get is full value for money. The leather is a fantastic material for gloves. It is tough enough to withstand a lot of punishment. It feels quite premium and luxurious as well. These gloves will last you a long time, with some good maintenance.
Synthetic gloves do have their place in the market, no doubt about that. They are much easier to mass produce so that you can find these at a far lower price point than natural leather. But they do feel quite cheap as well, unfortunately. But if you can live with that, and you are on a budget, then by all means, good quality synthetic leather gloves can be found at a decent price.
What are some extra features to look for in the best MMA gloves?
Most gloves use some kind of synthetic foam to provide protection to your hands. You can find gloves with regular foam, as well as layered versions. The latter is cheaper, but will not last very long.
Wrist Strap Design
This is crucial as it keeps the gloves secure on your hands. The best option is to look for adjustable straps, with Velcro. They allow you to get the best fit possible without compromising on comfort or safety.
Breathability and Wicking
These are both essential features to look for any kind of sports gear that covers your body parts. When you sweat, things get uncomfortable fast. And since gloves use non-breathable leather, it is important that they have some kind of system to handle unwanted moisture. This could be specially positioned vents or moisture-wicking fabric liners.
Is there any point in checking the country of manufacture when it comes to MMA gloves?
If you want to buy the best of the best, yes, you should look at the origin of your MMA gloves. This may surprise you, but “Made in Thailand” is the label you need to look for when trying to buy the best MMA gloves on the market.
There is a huge market for combat sports in that region, and you probably know about the popularity of their traditional martial arts, Muay Thai. Thailand also has a well-developed manufacturing industry for such sports gear. According to MMA gear experts, the best stuff is often made in that country.
But if you don’t care too much about that, you needn’t pay much attention to the country of origin. Pakistan and China are two major producers of sports goods, and you can find some really cheap gloves from these markets.
If you’d rather look for some decent brands instead, there are at least half a dozen decent companies in the business of making quality MMA gloves. These include:
- Venum – they offer gear for MMA, boxing, Brazilian jiu-jitsu, and other combat sports. Venum has some excellent gear for both men and women.
- Combat Sports – They are mainly focused on MMA, and sell their gear online. Around since 2003, this brand has steadily gathered a devoted following all over the world.
- Everlast – they are the big name brand in boxing equipment and have a long and storied history of working with all the greats. Beyond boxing, they also have some excellent MMA gloves on offer.
- Fairtex – This Thai brand has been in the top echelons of the combat sports gear industry since the ‘70s. Their prime focus is on Muay Thai, but they also have some of the best MMA gloves.
- Title – They are a boxing and MMA gear company doing business for the better part of two decades. You can find excellent training and hybrid gloves from their catalog.
- Hayabusa – We are talking about the MMA gear brand, not the Suzuki Superbike here! Like Suzuki, the guys at Hayabusa focus on speed and power, hence they adopted the Japanese name for peregrine falcon, a deadly bird prey that hunts at speeds in excess of 240mph.
To get maximum buyer satisfaction when shopping for MMA gloves, you need to decide your priorities. Very few MMA sparring gloves can do everything, from bag workouts to sparring with partners, and grappling. Most tend to focus on one or two aspects. If you can match the glove to the aspects you want, you will not have to feel any buyer’s remorse!