Hand in red and white MMA sparring glove resting on the ropes of a ring

Best MMA Gloves for Sparring

Our Top 5 MMA Gloves for Sparring

See our Product Review for each of these gloves further below.

Introduction

Picking the best training gloves for MMA takes a bit of thought and it is good to do a bit of homework first. Not least of all because there are many options to consider.

There are different gloves that MMA fighters use depending on the type of training.  Gloves for competition are different from training gloves.

Your gloves are crucially important for safe training so it is worth taking time to make the right decision.

What to Consider before Buying MMA Gloves

MMA Gloves are unique from gloves used in other combat sports in that they are open fingered. The reason for this is to allow the use of your fingers and hands when grappling.

Before you go out and purchase a pair of MMA gloves that you will use for sparring, you need to consider a few things:

Types of MMA Gloves

There are three types of MMA gloves. Each type serves a specific purpose.

Grappling Gloves

Grappling gloves are MMA gloves that are designed to offer a fighter more finger movement to train for grappling. The gloves have some padding over each the knuckles and individual padding over each finger.  The padding is there to offer some protection for your sparring partner, but much less so than sparring gloves.  They are much better for grappling.

MMA sparring gloves are best suited for practicing grappling and clenching.  You can also use most sparring gloves on bags as well although it is normal to have a separate pair of gloves for heavy bag work.

Sparring Gloves

Sparring gloves are used when practicing your striking.  They have extra padding to protect your hands and your sparring partner when punching. MMA sparring gloves typically weigh around 6 or 7 oz.

MMA Sparring gloves are recognisable because there is a single large pad over knuckles and fingers.  They are similar to boxing gloves in that they have a grip bar or similar to form a tight fist when punching. For that reason, they are not as good for grappling.  However, the fingers are still exposed which makes them better than traditional boxing gloves.

Sparring gloves are ideal for working on your striking’s accuracy and technique even for long sessions.

Competition Gloves

Competition gloves are the least padded of them all. MMA competition gloves usually weigh around 4 oz. but it can be lower depending on the competition rules.

The finger slots on competition gloves are separated which allow for more finger movement than sparring gloves. This makes them more effective when it comes to grappling movements.

Due to the little or no padding on MMA competition gloves, it is recommended to wrap your hands or wear inner gloves during competition.

Material

Materials used to make MMA gloves do vary. Genuine leather and synthetic leather are the most common of the materials used in MMA glove production.

Genuine leather MMA gloves are usually of higher quality than synthetic leather despite sharing most of the same characteristics. Genuine leather will last longer.

On the other hand, synthetic leather gloves are usually cheaper than genuine leather gloves.  The affordability of the former make them more attractive especially to beginners.

Padding

The type of padding is a crucial element of MMA gloves. Since you are going to punching hard targets, you need good padding to protect your hands and your partner.

The most prevalent padding used in MMA gloves is foam padding. The higher quality gloves will use layered foam padding while lower quality gloves will use a variety of foam padding.

The type of padding will affect the longevity of the gloves. There is no substitute to simply feeling the quality of the foam padding.  Recommendations are always a good place to start, though.

Hand Compartment Size

The size and fit of the hand compartment is important. (Not to be confused with the size in ounces of the padding like traditional boxing gloves).  You will want gloves that fit your hands not only for your own safety but also for better training. Ill-fitting gloves can lead to injury.

Hand compartment sizes will vary from brand to brand.  Most manufacturers specify the hand sizes.  This makes it easier to check the measurements against the circumference of your hand to ensure a good fit.  Some brands will offer a choice of hand compartment sizes..

There are typically four sizes of gloves. Small which measure 6¾ – 7½ inches, medium measuring 7¼ – 8¾ inches, large which measures 8½ – 9¾ inches and extra-large measuring 9½ – 10½ inches.  These are typical measurements and they may vary from brand to brand.  So it is worth knowing your palm circumference and then referring to the manufacturer’s recommendation.

Weight

The weight refers to the amount of padding in the gloves.  A heavier weight is safer for your hands and safer for your sparring partner.  Most sparring gloves are 6 or 7 ounces although you may find some that are even heavier.

MMA styles of gloves that weight more than this, such as 10 – 16 ounces, are used for heavy bag work.

Competition gloves usually weigh 4 to 6 ounces.  These are not appropriate for friendly sparring with hand strikes, but they are better for grappling.

This article information is for MMA sparring only.  Have a look at our other articles on recommended MMA completion gloves and MMA heavy bag gloves.

Wrapping

The final factor you need to consider before buying MMA gloves is whether you intend to wrap your hands. If you will be wrapping them, or wearing an inner glove, don’t forget to allow for the extra space needed.  It is better to measure the circumference of your palm with your wrapping or inner gloves on.

We recommend using wrapping or inner gloves to help protect your hands and wrists.  They help keep your wrist straight and firm which reduces the risk of injury during training.

Thumb Protection

Some training gloves offer protection for the thumb and some leave the thumb entirely exposed.  We know plenty of MMA fighters that use both.  However, we think it is important to use MMA gloves that protect the thumb.

There is no point in risking a thumb injury during training, and it can happen.  For this reason all of our recommended MMA gloves have thumb protection.

Our Top 5 MMA Gloves for Sparring

Product Reviews

Everlast Train Advanced MMA 7-Ounce Striking/Training Gloves

Everlast is a well-known brand for dependable combat sports gear.

Everlast’s MMA 7-ounce training gloves are some of the most affordable and reliable gloves on the market. These gloves are surprisingly durable for such light gloves.

They are available in black and only in two sizes which is quite limiting. Fortunately the color black goes with everything.  Some people using these gloves have found them to be smaller than expected.

Everlast MMA 7-ounce training gloves are made of faux leather or polyurethane. Although this material is not as good as leather it does provide reasonably good ventilation. This helps to reduce overheating your hands and excessive sweating.

Moreover, the gloves have a proprietary EverFresh liner which will absorb most of the sweat if you happen to sweat excessively. The liner also helps reduce the odor when you take the gloves off.

We like that the padding of the Everlast 7-ounce training gloves offers enhanced hand protection while still retaining flexibility and ease of movement.  They can be used for striking practice as well as grappling.

The gloves have closed cell Durafoam padding which offers prefect skin protection and prevents injuries.

The gloves may emit a certain chemical smell when they are new.  It is not something that everyone notices.  If it is noticeable the smell should fade within the first few weeks of use.

Pros Cons
  • Light
  • Durable
  • Good padding
  • Liner for moisture absorption
  • Two sizes only
  • Comes in black only
  • Can be a chemical spell for first few week

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Elite Sports MMA Grappling Training Sparring Mitts Gloves

Elite Sports MMA training gloves are great gloves for beginners.  They are affordable and ideal for those on a tight budget, or for those that do not want to spend a lot of money on their first pair of MMA sparring gloves.

The training gloves are made from synthetic leather, more specifically polyurethane leather. The material is not only light but it is reasonably durable. It is easy to clean and maintain which will help them to last.

The gloves feature a Velcro wrist strap that offers a tight grip. The strap is meant to help fighter protect their hands from injuries when grappling.

With 7 different color choices you can choose one for every day of the week if you fancied it.

Elite Sports MMA training gloves have a curved design which makes mishits more forgiving.  The padding is made with triple-density gel and impact foam. The gel absorbs shocks when striking which improves performance while protecting your hands.

The gloves only come in two sizes: S/M and M/L.  This is all but a one-size-fits-all approach and it may not work for everyone.  However, if you purchase a glove that has a little extra room you can easily get a good fit by wearing inner gloves or wraps.

Pros Cons
  • Price
  • Forgiving (ideal for beginners and experienced fighters)
  • Good shock absorbent padding
  • Limited sizes
  • Not suited for consistent heavy bag use

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Combat Sports Max Strike MMA Training Gloves

Combat Sports Max Strike MMA Training Gloves combine the best features of MMA and boxing gloves. They are heavily padded with an open palm design.

The gloves come in three different sizes and colors. You can choose the blue, red or white, just in case it is important for you to be color coordinated.  You can select regular, large or extra-large as it pertains to size.

The Combat Sports Max Strike MMA Training Gloves also feature two inches of molded foam padding. Such thick padding is great for your safety and that of your training partners.

Even with the 2 inches of molded foam the Combat Sports Max Strike MMA Training Gloves feel light.  They are comfortable to wear without any obvious friction from the stitching. Fighters like that these gloves have a hinged knuckled to provide a good range of motion without adding to fatigue.

We are surprised that the stitching isn’t more robust.  With regular hard use the stitching can start to come apart.  All gloves need to be retired at some point and for the money you will still get good use from these gloves.  However, a heavier stitching would have been better.

The gloves wrist straps are constructed using a D-ring system for extra support.  While we like the wrist support, and it is good, we are not a huge fan of anything metal in gloves.

Pros Cons
  • Light and comfortable
  • 2 inches of molded foam padding
  • Thumb protection
  • Durable 
  • Stitching a bit thin
  • D-ring for wrist strap

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Combat Sports MMA sparring gloves are a more affordable version of the Combat Sports Max Strike MMA Training Gloves.  But they are still good value for money which is why  we like them.

The gloves are made from top notch synthetic leather. The material has been found to be quite durable even after sustained use.  We like how light they feel.

Combat Sports MMA sparring gloves come in three sizes. Sizes start at regular so you are unlucky if you have small hands.  However, this may be remedied by wearing inner gloves or wraps.

The glove features four-layer foam padding for protection. The extra protection is mostly for your partner’s safety, but it also protects you by absorbing the shock when striking objects such as heavy bags.

The Combat sports MMA sparring gloves have finger slots that are not quite as comfortable as the Combat Sports Max Strike MMA Training Gloves.  They offer about the same amount of finger flexibility to allow fighters to hold on to opponents. However, the pinky loop would be more comfortable if it was stitched in a bit lower rather than straight across.

Pros Cons
  • Price
  • Four-layer foam padding
  • Thumb protection
  • Finger slots (could be better)

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Combat Sports Max Strike MMA Training Gloves

Hayabusa is a high quality MMA brand and offers incredible quality for all its gear. The Hayabusa T3 7oz Hybrid MMA Gloves are no different.

They are a 7 oz. glove with unique construction. They have an X-palm design which refers to the stitching and palm coverage of the glove. The construction allows for a much sturdier fit than other gloves.

Despite the great design these are still sparring gloves intended for striking more than grappling, but much better than traditional gloves.  The extra padding is meant for just that though hand wraps are advised especially for heavy bag training. The padding will get in your way when used for grappling practice.

The Hayabusa T3 7oz Hybrid MMA Glove is made from vegan friendly leather.  In other words, it is not real leather.  It is made with really high quality synthetic leather material that is proven to be very durable.   The stitching is top notch and the wrist strap is also steady so the glove should fit well over time.

The gloves come in four different sizes namely small, medium, large and extra-large. The Hayabusa T3 7oz Hybrid MMA Glove costs more but they are worth it if you want really good quality MMA sparring glove.

Pros Cons
  • Excellent synthetic (vegan friendly) leather
  • X-palm design
  • Good design
  • Quality construction
  • Thumb protection
  • Durable
  • Price

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Summary

These our our top recommended MMA gloves for sparring.  All five are good value for money.  They each have their own merits depending on what is important to you. The choice of padding and glove material is personal preference.  We think thumb protection is a must.

Our overall favorite is the Combat Sports Max Strike MMA Gloves If you are looking for the best value for money then it is definitely the Elite Sports MMA Gloves.  However, if you are willing to pay a little extra for something that really performs well and looks good then you cannot go wrong with the Hayabusa T3 Hybrid MMA Gloves.

Next it is simply a matter of finding the right size.  Don’t forget to allow extra room for wraps or inner gloves if you intend to train with these.  They can also fill out a slightly oversized hand compartment.

 

 

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