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Shopping for MMA gloves is slightly more complicated than for boxing gloves. testing testing
While a good 16oz pair of boxing gloves is usually fine for any session, MMA gloves vary a bit more and you usually will have a couple of different pairs for different types of training.
In this guide I’m going to take you through the best MMA gloves for sparring, grappling and competition. Some of them are interchangeable depending on your skill level, but don’t worry! We’ll cover all experience levels and budgets below.
Why use our guide? I’ve been training martial arts for over 10 years, in boxing, muay thai, BJJ and MMA in various gyms around the world. The crew here loves testing products and we definitely have a good idea of what you need to get the most out of your gear and training. Read on and hopefully you’ll see we love being on the mats as much as you do!
The Best MMA Gloves For Sparring
If you’re only going to get one pair of MMA gloves, I’d recommend getting sparring gloves.
Sparring gloves are more padded than standard competition 4 oz. gloves, as a way to protect you and your sparring partners as much as possible. Usually they sit around the 7 oz. mark.
They also have full padding over the top of the hand and fingers, more like a mitt rather than the regular MMA glove (like you see in the UFC). This is designed to protect your hands but also your sparring partners.
At the gym I see even the pro fighters training in sparring gloves all the time, not only for sparring but also for hitting pads and even the bag. In fact the best MMA gloves for heavy bag work will be sparring gloves. They’re a great way to get used to the smaller glove, while keeping a little extra padding on the knuckles.
Since you can use sparring MMA gloves for pretty much all your training, I’d recommend them as the best MMA gloves for your first pair.
Our top pick: RDX T15 Noir
I’m a big fan of RDX gloves. They’re inexpensive and still great quality.
Let’s face it, we need to buy a lot of things when training for MMA, and it adds up! RDX sits right in the mid-price range and is perfect for any martial arts enthusiast, who wants to invest in good gear but doesn’t want to be dropping hundreds of pound on it.
Our top pick from this range? The bestselling T15 Noir.
They’re sturdy – manufactured with RDX’s own ConvEX Skin leather and padded with their trademarked Supremo-Shock foam, which distributes any force evenly across the face of the glove.
RDX uses something they call the Y-Volar palm design, which is basically a web shaped strip over the palm. This is supposed to be more secure than open palm, without hindering your ability to grip or make a fist. I don’t know if it’s the super new technology like they make it sound, but they are indeed very comfortable.
It’s finished off with a solid EZ hook wrist strap to keep your hands snug and safe. We reckon they’re the best buy for MMA sparring gloves in the UK right now.
As for sizes, the Medium does fit very small, so most adults will be at least an L. Refer to the RDX sizing guide here:
One of the best value picks on this list. Really affordable, high quality and look pretty sleek as well.
If you’re getting your first pair of MMA gloves, you can’t go wrong with these.
- Manufactured with lightweight Maya Hide Leather and Nylon inner fabric for integrated durability.
- Approved by SMMAF (Swedish Mixed Martial Arts Federation)
- Shell-Shock gel delivers eventual impact resistance.
- Supremo Shock foam delivers prime level of cushioning, reducing the chance of injuries.
- QD-1 lining with sweat wicking abilities.
- Quick-EZ hook & loop closure.
- Sizing guide available.
RDX T6 Sparring Gloves
The RDX T6 gloves are slightly different to the T15 shown above.
Firstly, they have a fully open palm design, which gives the best possible breathability and ease of cleaning.
The second difference is they feel slightly more padded around the knuckles and over the fingers. These gloves are manufactured differently with gel layers under the foam which is designed for extra shock absorption when sparring or hitting the pads.
They’re a few pounds cheaper than the T15 Noir, but if you can afford it I’d pay the little extra and take the upgrade. Still, nothing wrong these gloves – really solid pair at a great price!
- Maya Hide Leather Construction
- Multi-layer Gel Integrated Padding
- Quick-EZ Hook and Loop
- Open Palm Design
- Reinforced Stitching
Venum Challenger 3.0 Sparring Gloves
Once again a very sleek design on this set of gloves by Venum.
A couple of guys at my gym have the gold and black and they do look as cool in real life as they do in the pics.
The padding on this is very wide and thick, and you could comfortably use them on a bag as well as in MMA sparring class on the pads as well. Can’t go wrong with these ones – great gloves at a great price.
- Double Velcro closure for a better stability and mobility
- Injected foam for a better shock absorption
- Conceived with high quality synthetic leather
Lang Horn MMA Sparring Gloves
These gloves are the lowest priced gloves on this list, which is surprising because they’re very well made and super comfortable.
The padding on the fingers is almost like a low ounce boxing mitt, and holds up well even on a good heavy bag session.
Made with Maya skin PU leather (very common on the lower priced gloves) which obviously isn’t as sturdy as real leather but comes pretty close if stitched correctly.
Lots of padding layered underneath to protect the hands, and an open palm design underneath. Really solid glove for anyone on a tight budget.
- Lang Horn SparManufactured using top quality Maya skin leather
- Perfect padding for maximum bag workout.
- Double stitched and made with high density foam
- Open palm design for breathability
Best training/grappling MMA gloves
Training or grappling MMA gloves are different to sparring gloves in that they give the fingers more freedom to move. To do this they reduce the padding over the top of the hand, and also split the fingers so they can move freely from one another.
This also means they offer less protection for striking for both you and your sparring/rolling partners.
What we look for in training/grappling MMA glove?
Lots of freedom for the fingers to move and grip, while still give us as much padding as possible for full MMA sparring.
Our top pick: RDX T2 Leather MMA Gloves
I love these gloves!
You may notice they’re a few pounds more expensive than the previous list, but they’re worth every pound. Made from genuine cowhide leather, they’re a little tough to break in but once they do they’re incredibly flexible and sturdy, and should last a very long time if you take care of them.
The padding over the knuckles is made with RDX’s trademarked Shell Shock gel technology, paired with their Supremo-Shock Foam, which offers maximum shock resistance. I know those names are a little cringe, but the end product is pretty impressive.
It also has a semi-open palm which unwraps fully to allow for super easy washing/drying.
To be honest, this should be the only pair of gloves you need. There are others which are more expensive, more padded etc, and if you plan on fighting competitively you may need some competition gloves too. But for most MMA enthusiasts who train for fun/fitness, these should be suffice for all your training needs.
- 100% authentic full grain cowhide leather
- Extra-thick foam based padding with shock dissipating gel
- Quick-EZ hook and loop closure
- Sweat wicking synthetic draws sweat away from skin
- Nabla-Palm architecture enhances sweat management
RDX T7 Grappling Gloves
These gloves are great for someone looking for a good MMA grappling gloves at a lower price point. They’re still really highly rated but not made with quite as much padding and obviously not made of real leather.
That said, grappling gloves generally don’t get beat up as much as boxing gloves or even MMA sparring gloves. They’re mostly used for light MMA sparring or for getting used to the feeling of rolling with gloves on, so as long as you take care of them they should last a while.
The design is still pretty slick, with contoured padding and an open cut palm, and for most at beginner and even intermediate level they should be more than sufficient. However if you can afford a few extra pounds, definitely get a good pair of sparring gloves or the T2 from above.
- Imperishable Maya Hide Leather Material
- PC-3 Contoured Padding for Protection
- D. Cut Palm for Better Grip & Breathability
- Quick-EZ Hook-and-loop Closure
Venum Challenger MMA gloves
Solid pair of standard grappling gloves as always by Venum.
Made from PU leather and very lightweight, with semi-open palm and lots of high density foam around the knuckles.
Venum manufactures their gloves in Thailand and doesn’t cut corners and their Challenger series is a great example of that. Nice and straightforward high quality glove.
- 100% high quality PU leather
- 4oz density
- High density thread
- Layered foam for better protection and shock absorption
Best MMA gloves for competition
RDX F2 Pro Style Gloves
SMMAF approved gloves means these are ready to go for both amateur and pro competition fights.
Made with authentic cowhide leather and RDX’s Tri-slab foam padding over the hand and knuckles. The Shell Shock gel across the fingers is designed so you can hit with full impact while providing maximum protection to you hands. This really is the best of all RDX’s tech rolled into one mean looking glove. Really amazing that they’ve done it all for this price as well.
For a killer pair of fight gloves at a great price this is our top pick in the UK right now.
- RDX MMA gloves are specially crafted with Authentic NAPPA Cowhide leather.
- Tri-slab of shock-absorbing padding
- Shell-Shock gel Equilibrium sheet provides optimum impact resistance.
- Unique Y-Volar palm
- Approved By (SMMAF) Swedish Mixed Martial Arts Federation
Venum Undisputed 2.0 MMA gloves
Handmade in Thailand, these Venum gloves are made from Nappa leather with layered foam padding across the fingers and knuckles for maximum protection.
Once again Venum makes great gear and these gloves are no exception.
The high density stitching means they should last many seasons if taken care of properly.
A little on the expensive side, as it can be with brand names sometimes, but still a solid pair of gloves nonetheless. If you’re a Venum fan, you’ll likely love them.
- High quality Nappa leather offering the best quality for outstanding durability
- High density threading
- Layered foam for better protection and shock absorption
- Handmade in Thailand offering a perfect finish
- Exclusive Velcro strap system for single hand pre-positioning
Tips for training with MMA gloves
Wear hand wraps
If you’re going to be sparring, and especially if you’re going to be hitting the bags or pads, make sure you wrap your hands first.
There is far less padding on MMA gloves than there is on boxing gloves, and even with 16oz boxing gloves you should always wrap your hands.
This makes it doubly important with MMA gloves!
Always wipe down and dry your gloves after training
The best way to stop your gloves from smelling is to dry them out after every training session.
Don’t leave them in your bag covered in sweat overnight. Your gloves will be smelling like soiled shoes in no time!
Instead, wipe your gloves down immediately after training with alcohol wipes or disinfectant. Then leave them somewhere to dry. In the sun is ideal, but if that’s not possible, leave them beside the heater or in a hot water cupboard. At the very least, leave them out in the open somewhere, rather than in your gear bag.
If you do that, your gloves should still be smelling brand new in a year from now.
Alternate gloves if you train often
This won’t apply if you only train once or twice a week, but if you’re one of us crazy people who is down at the gym 5 or 6 times per week it’s a good idea to have multiple pairs of gloves.
Similar to how runners alternate between different shoes, fighters should also do this with gloves to preserve their durability. If you use the same gloves every day, they will wear out faster, plus probably won’t dry fully between sessions so may start to smell more.
If you have two pairs of gloves, each pair will only get used once every two or three days, which is much better for preserving the lifetime of the gloves. You should get a lot more use out of both gloves this way.
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Last update on 2021-05-15 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API