This is our review of the best MMA gloves in 2021. For anyone training MMA or even just spicing up the occasional round of rolling in BJJ, MMA gloves are an essential piece of equipment. The right glove offers enough protection to keep you and your partner safe while giving you enough dexterity to still grapple effectively.
We’ve picked a variety of gloves ranging from entry-level to pro-grade. Whether you’re just beginning to dabble in MMA or are looking to put these gloves through their paces this list has you covered.
Review of the Best MMA Gloves
Any time you’ve put on a pair of MMA gloves you’re signaling that you’re ready to put in the work. Whether you’re doing pad work with your coach or sparring with a buddy, that time has been allocated to effort. But, just because you’ve agreed to persevere through sweat and punishment doesn’t mean your hands have to suffer low-quality gloves.
We all work hard when we’re training, so it’s only reasonable to expect our gloves to rise to the occasion too! Now, let’s take a look at the best models that can match your intensity!
ZooBoo MMA Gloves, Half-Finger Boxing Fight Gloves MMA Mitts with Adjustable Wrist Band UFC Gloves for Sanda Sparring Punching Bag Training
- Best for: Your first pair of MMA gloves
- Shell Material: Polyurethane ‘Leather’
- Features: Triple Layer Padding, Open-Thumb Design
Entry level doesn’t have to mean settling for low-quality and the ZooBoo MMA Gloves epitomize that. With a faux-leather shell you’d be forgiven for thinking that these gloves won’t hold up – but reviewers frequently comment that these gloves are surprisingly durable and hold up to heavy use.
Will these be the first and last pair of MMA gloves you ever buy? Well, probably not. But, they offer more than enough padding for pad work and sparring and are available at a great price.
While many people choose to use MMA gloves for heavy-bag work, do so at your own peril. Heavy-bags are, well, heavy – and it’s recommended that you use a glove that will protect the small bones of your hand and wrist.
This glove has an adjustable velcro wrist strap that will help it fit a wide variety of wrist sizes – but this strap does not offer the same level of support you’ll want from bag gloves!
These gloves offer an open thumb design. For grapplers this may be a boon as it means these gloves will give you unimpeded use of your thumb, but it means less protection for the thumb. Some reviews mention that this quirk (many MMA gloves include a thumb sleeve) is off-putting, and that they would’ve preferred that the glove have one.
In terms of size and appearance this glove only comes in seven colors in one size – take note if your hands are particularly small or large. Some people find the included graphics to be a little cartoonish – if you prefer staid, solid colors you may want to look elsewhere. But honestly, they’re just gloves and we’re just using them to hit stuff.
- Best for: Dedicated striking gloves, light heavy-bag work
- Shell Material: Faux Leather
- Features: Triple-Layer Padding, Grip-bar, Finger padding extends to second knuckle
If you’re looking to primarily use these gloves for stand-up striking and are willing to sacrifice a bit of grappling dexterity for hand protection, then the Ring to Cage MMA Kick Boxing Fitness Bag Gloves are for you.
While we don’t recommend that you use MMA gloves for bag work, we know that many of you choose to do so anyway! With an integrated grip bar and extended knuckle padding these gloves are a step in the right direction for heavy bag work and should help you log long hours on the focus mits!
These gloves offer enough padding for sparring and while not ideal for grappling, will serve in a pinch for quick practice sessions on the floor!
These gloves are available in two sizes and come in a color palette that Henry Ford would be proud of: just black.
- Best For: Grapplers who want meaningful stand-up hand protection
- Shell Material: Faux Leather
- Features: Articulated Closed-Thumb, Extra Padding
The Everlast Train Advanced MMA 7-Ounce Closed Thumb Grappling/Training gloves offer a great blend of full-hand protection and the hand mobility you’ll need for grappling.
With a closed-thumb design and extra padding compared to 4 oz sparring gloves, these gloves are great for those who want to check kicks with confidence. While the extra padding and thumb protection combine to reduce overall hand maneuverability, the articulated thumb joints and single-knuckle coverage means you’ll still be able to use your hands!
The L/XL size is recommended for folks over 6 feet tall, so most people will find the S/M size sufficient.
- Best For: Recreating the UFC-Glove Experience…on a budget!
- Shell Material: Faux Leather
- Features: Open Thumb
If you want to get nearly the same experience as the pros at a quarter the price, then take a look at the UFC 5oz MMA Gloves.
While the UFC Official Fight Gloves weigh in at a 4 oz, these gloves tip the scales just one ounce up from that. In addition to being a bit portlier, these gloves use a durable synthetic leather instead of the Official Fight Gloves’ cowhide shell.
Neither this glove nor the Official UFC version include thumb coverage, although the Official version does offer a more fully open palm. This shouldn’t make a difference in most cases, but it is something to keep in mind.
- Best For: Real Leather and Classic Minimalism
- Shell Material: 100% Leather
- Features: Lightweight 4-oz design, Open Thumb
Rev Gear Challenger MMA Gloves in Black offer just what you need and nothing else. With a leather shell (including the wrist wrap!) these gloves are built to last.
The 4-oz design is perfect for sparring in the cage but won’t offer you much protection for bag work! These gloves have an open palm and thumb, offering you as much range of motion as you could ever expect for MMA-grappling!
Available in 4 different sizes, these gloves should suit a wide variety of hand sizes.
Elite Sports Pro Style Half Mitts Grappling Gloves
- Best For: Premium Feel on a Budget
- Shell Material: Faux-Leather
- Features: Closed-thumb
Elite Sports stands out in the world of grappling apparel by offering premium products at budget prices. Their Elite Sports Pro Style Half Mitts Grappling Gloves are another great example of this, delivering a great fit and versatility for an entry-level price.
These gloves are available in 7 colors and 3 sizes ensuring you’ll be able to find a glove (and a style) that fits you!
How to Select the Right Pair of MMA Gloves
Selecting a pair of MMA gloves can be a frustrating experience – the market just feels saturated with dozens of brands, each claiming to be better than the rest. The reality is that there are plenty of good options out there and the key is to make a choice that best fits your intended usage!
Glove Weight; or Training vs. Competition Gloves
Oftentimes you’ll see gloves listed by weight, but what does that number really mean? The weight listed is the actual weight of each glove – however the number tells us more. The higher the number the more padding you can expect from a given glove.
Four-ounce gloves are the lightest MMA gloves you’ll find and offer the least amount of padding. This type of glove provides an experience most similar to the type of gloves used in pro-MMA fights – which may or may not be what you (and your training partners!) are hoping for. These gloves are often referred to as Competition Gloves.
Seven-ounce gloves tend to be the sweet spot, offering enough padding to keep you and your partner safe while not becoming too great an encumbrance. Sometimes you’ll see these heavier gloves referred to as Training Gloves, although the exact weight for this term varies by manufacturer.
Thumb Coverage and Open Palms
One common feature that separates two pairs of MMA gloves is thumb coverage and palm coverage. People looking for a bit more hand protection may gravitate towards the padded-thumb designs. If you aren’t concerned about thumb protection you can choose between gloves that offer a thumb sleeve, providing stability for the glove, or a completely open-thumb design.
In general, the amount of the palm that is covered relates to the type of thumb coverage. Padded thumbs generally mean more fully closed palms while unpadded or fully open-thumb designs offer the most exposure for your palm.
An open palm gives you a grappling experience more similar to grappling without gloves on as you are getting more skin on skin contact. Additionally, some grapplers find the open-palms to be cooler and more comfortable.
Leather or Faux-Leather – Does it Really Matter?
If you look around online for MMA gloves you’ll see lots of descriptions that say: PU Leather, PVC Leather, Polyurethane Leather, Synthetic Leather, Faux-Leather. The reality is that none of these are leather at all! However, you don’t need to despair as many synthetic leathers on the market offer durability on par with leather gloves at a fraction of the price.
Having said that, keep in mind that not all synthetic leathers are created equal – a high quality synthetic leather may hold up just as well as the real thing, while lower quality versions could wear out prematurely.
Leather offers incredible durability and that immediately recognizable feel that some people love. If you’re looking for a great pair of leather MMA gloves that don’t break the bank, Rev Gear Challenger MMA Gloves Black are a great choice.
- Do I need to wrap my hands before wearing MMA Gloves
We highly recommend you wrap your hands while wearing MMA gloves. The hand and wrist is made up of many small bones and a proper wrap will keep them safe from harm.
Remember, boxers wrap their hands under their boxing gloves and still manage to occasionally injure their hands!
- Can I train on a heavy bag with MMA gloves?
Heavy bags are an essential part of your training, and they go hand in hand with the proper gear. However, MMA gloves are not intended for heavy bag training and do not offer the wrist support and padding necessary for long heavy bag sessions.
Having said that, many people choose to train on the heavy bag in MMA gloves. If you make this choice yourself, definitely be sure to wear hand wraps and ensure that you’re striking with proper form.
- How do I know what size gloves I need?
Most manufacturers include a sizing guide to help you determine what size gloves you need. In general you’ll want to err on the larger size as your hand wraps will take up some space within the glove.
- How do I take care of my MMA gloves?
Taking care of MMA gloves is simple and requires you to follow one simple step: allow your gloves to dry after use! Many people will train with their gloves and then toss them into their gym bag, not to be seen again until the next training session. This is a great way to create some of the most horrid stink you can imagine!
Even high quality leather gloves will quickly deteriorate under these conditions. Your best bet is to hang your gloves up somewhere with good airflow after training. Generally you’ll want to avoid direct sunlight as the UV light can damage materials, but if you have to pick between sunny and dry or dark and damp, dry is always preferable.
MMA gloves are an essential piece of equipment for anyone looking to mix grappling and striking. They offer a slim profile that allows you to still perform grappling techniques while providing enough protection for you and your training partner.
Keep in mind that MMA gloves inherently offer less hand protection than their bigger boxing glove relatives. If you’re looking for a pair of gloves solely for heavy-bag use, you should strongly consider a dedicated pair of boxing bag-gloves!
Evan is nomadic brown belt, currently traveling through Mexico. He enjoys pressure passes and tacos.