MMA Gloves vs Boxing Gloves: Understanding the Differences

The arena is set, and the crowd is roaring, but the choice of armor – in this case, gloves – can make all the difference. Boxing gloves, with their rich history, were not just a protective measure for the opponent but a shield for the boxer’s own hands, a nod to the raw power they wielded. These gloves, which saw their first padded iteration in 1743, have since become an emblem of the sport. 

As the combat world expanded, the rise of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) in the 1990s heralded the need for a new kind of glove. One that was versatile, accommodating both the striking power of boxing and the intricate grappling techniques of MMA. Dive with us into this exploration of two iconic gloves, each telling its own story of combat and legacy.

Striking vs. Grappling

In the dynamic world of combat sports, the gloves a fighter chooses are not just equipment; they’re a strategic decision, a silent statement of intent. At first glance, boxing and MMA gloves might seem like mere variations of each other, but delve a little deeper, and their unique purposes become evident.

Boxing gloves

Boxing gloves, with their robust and padded design, are the knights of the striking world. They are crafted to optimize the power and precision of punches, ensuring that each blow lands with maximum impact while minimizing the risk of hand injuries. Their primary function? To facilitate the art of striking, where every jab, hook, and uppercut counts.

MMA gloves

Enter the MMA gloves and the narrative shifts. These gloves, noticeably smaller and with open fingers, are the Swiss Army knives of the combat world. They’re not just about striking; they’re about versatility. Their design facilitates grappling, allowing fighters to seamlessly transition from delivering powerful punches to executing intricate submission holds. The open fingers mean fighters can grip, clinch, and manoeuvre with ease, making them indispensable in the multifaceted arena of MMA.

Detailed Comparison: Boxing Gloves vs. MMA Gloves

In the realm of combat sports, the devil is in the details. While boxing and MMA gloves may seem superficially similar, a closer examination reveals distinct differences tailored to the unique demands of each sport.


The first thing one notices when comparing the two is the difference in padding. Boxing gloves, designed for prolonged striking exchanges, come with a generous amount of padding, often measured in ounces. This ensures that fighters can deliver and receive punches without causing undue harm to their hands or their opponent’s face.

On the other hand, MMA gloves, with their minimalist design, prioritize flexibility over padding. The padding is primarily concentrated over the knuckles, allowing for effective striking while not compromising the ability to grapple.

Finger Enclosure

The design philosophy diverges further when we look at finger enclosures. MMA gloves sport an open-finger design, a nod to the grappling-centric nature of the sport. This design ensures fighters can execute holds, submissions, and takedowns. In contrast, boxing gloves encapsulate the entire hand, keeping it in a fixed position optimal for striking and blocking.

Hand Wraps

Both boxing and MMA recognize the importance of hand wraps in preventing injuries. However, due to the size and design differences in the gloves, the wrapping techniques vary. The larger cavity in boxing gloves can accommodate more wrap, especially around the knuckles, while the compact MMA gloves necessitate a more streamlined wrapping approach.

Material and Closure

In terms of materials, both gloves tread common ground. High-quality gloves in both disciplines are often crafted from genuine leather, though synthetic alternatives are available for those seeking vegan options. However, closure mechanisms differ. MMA gloves predominantly use Velcro for quick fastening and release, essential in a sport where gloves might need to be changed mid-flight. Boxing gloves, while also offering Velcro options, often employ laces in professional settings, providing a snug fit, albeit with the need for assistance in fastening.

Damage Comparison

When it comes to combat sports, the type of glove worn can significantly influence the kind of damage inflicted upon an opponent. While both boxing and MMA gloves are designed to protect the wearer, their impact on the recipient of a blow can vary dramatically.

MMA Gloves

At first glance, the aftermath of a fight involving MMA gloves can be quite startling. With their thinner padding and open-finger design, these gloves are notorious for causing visible damage. Fighters often emerge from bouts with pronounced cuts, welts, and bruises. The reduced padding means that the force of each strike is more directly transferred to the opponent, leading to superficial injuries that can bleed profusely.

These visible marks, while often not deeply damaging, can influence judges’ perceptions and can even lead to fight stoppages if a cut impedes a fighter’s vision.

Boxing Gloves

On the other hand, boxing gloves, with their ample padding, present a more insidious form of damage. While they reduce the likelihood of cuts and external bruises, they distribute the force of a punch over a larger area. This means that while the surface might remain relatively unscathed, the underlying impact, especially to the head, can be profound.

The brain, encased within the skull, can jostle and sustain concussive or sub-concussive injuries. Over time, repeated blows with boxing gloves can lead to cumulative brain damage, even if no immediate symptoms are evident.

While MMA gloves might leave a fighter looking more battered in the short term, boxing gloves have the potential to inflict long-term, unseen damage. It’s a stark reminder that in the world of combat sports, not all injuries are skin-deep.


Selecting the right glove is paramount. For those training in specific disciplines, the glove must align with the sport’s demands. A boxer requires the cushioned protection of boxing gloves to deliver powerful punches without injuring their hands. Conversely, an MMA fighter needs the flexibility of MMA gloves to transition seamlessly between striking and grappling.