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The differences between boxing gloves and MMA gloves

The differences between boxing gloves and MMA gloves

  • Zishan Haider

In the old bare-knuckle boxing, the forerunner of modern boxing, just like in Vale Tudo or the first Ultimate Fighting Championships, the leaders of modern MMA, people still fought without gloves. In the meantime, individual glove designs have been developed for each martial art, which best meets the requirements of the respective sport.

MMA gloves are smaller and lighter than boxing gloves. The fingers are free and allow for gripping, essential in wrestling and ground fighting. Boxing gloves offer better hand protection and cause fewer superficial injuries such as cuts and swelling.

When is it worth buying boxing or MMA gloves? Which models are suitable for sandbag training? More on that in the following post.

Purpose of gloves in martial arts

Gloves in martial arts serve to protect the first when hitting. Since the human hand is very fragile and has small bony structures, it is prone to injury when hitting challenging targets with force. Boxing and MMA gloves are not intended to protect against hits.

If the first hit hard or sharp-edged parts of the skull at an unfavorable angle, this almost always leads to serious hand injuries. For example, heavy hits on the forehead result in fractures, and hits on the nasal bone can cause cuts on the hand.

For these reasons, punches had to be delivered in a very targeted and dosed manner in classic bare-knuckle boxing. Not every target could be hit with full force; the fists' injury risk was too significant. The same goes for the first mixed martial arts fights, like the Brazilian Vale Tudo and the first UFCs (Ultimate Fighting Championships).

Using gloves, be it boxing gloves or MMA gloves, allows you to hit harder and less accurately without fear of injury. They protect the head of the victim from superficial wounds but not from concussions or brain damage.

The differences in design - boxing vs. MMA gloves

Boxing gloves                                                                                          MMA gloves

Bigger, heavier, better padding                                              smaller, lighter, worse padding

Barely possible to grab.                                                             Grabbing is possible.

Mitten + thumb sewn on and padded                                   Thumb free, not padded

Closed, the whole hand is protected                                       open, fingers are free

Good wrist stabilization                                                 more flexible – the wrist is more unstable

Sizes measured in ounces                                            Size in ounces + size of hand (S/M/L/XL)

Enough space for hand bandages                             tight-fitting, hardly any space for bandages

Competition sizes: 8 to 12 ounces                                             Competition size: 4 ounces

Training gloves: 12, 24, 16, 18 ounces                                      Training gloves: 6 ounces

What sizes are there for boxing and MMA gloves?

Boxing gloves are measured solely in ounces for weight, size, and padding. In contrast to MMA gloves, the interior is not counted. These are produced in the sizes S/M/L/XL and differ in the padding, which is specified in ounces.

In boxing, gloves from 8 to 12 ounces are used in competitions. Amateurs use more giant, better-padded boxing gloves than professionals. For boxing training, more giant gloves are recommended for safety reasons. You usually use 14-ounce, 16-ounce, and larger models for the hefty guys in sparring.

MMA gloves are produced in the usual glove sizes, adapted to the hand size, and are offered depending on the degree of padding, which is given in ounces as with boxing gloves. This ensures the glove fits optimally in every size and offers comparable padding and impact absorption.

Sizes, for MMA gloves, depending on hand circumference:


M = 19-21cm

L = 22-23cm

XL = 24-26cm

The usual size for competitions is 4 ounces for MMA gloves while sparring gloves usually weigh 6 ounces.

Which gloves can you hit harder with?

Boxing gloves are better padded and larger than MMA gloves, which allow you to hit harder. The hit effect with boxing gloves is distributed over a larger area. This results in fewer superficial injuries and slightly smaller (brain) concussions on hits.

The advantage of the better-padded gloves, the boxing gloves, is that they protect the hands in the best possible way in connection with bandages. This allows for often hitting hard and taking higher risks when hitting. Inaccurate hits are much less likely to cause injury than without a handguard.

With MMA gloves, the hit effect is distributed over a smaller area. The punches become slightly more challenging and faster. In combination, this leads to more frequent cut injuries, hematomas, lacerations, and lacerations than in boxing. But the hitting hand needs to be better protected.

In summary, it can be said that the risk of brain injuries is significantly higher in boxing, which is strictly limited to hitting. Boxing gloves offer significantly better protection for the hands, which, apart from the rules, contributes to a higher punch volume and more hits.

The power measurements with Bas Rutten in the video above showed:

Punches with an unprotected fist transmit the most power.

The thin MMA gloves generate more impact than the much better-padded boxing gloves.

Boxing gloves offer the best protection for your hands.

Which gloves to buy for training?

Giant and better-padded gloves are generally recommended for boxing and mixed martial arts training. This is a decisive safety factor in training, allowing less risky movement and injury-free with more contact.

Competition gloves in the appropriate sizes have no place in regular training. In MMA, it is common to use boxing gloves for stand-up training. From a technical point of view, however, the lower level of protection that MMA gloves offer in marking work should be considered.

MMAlers should get boxing or kickboxing gloves for their boxing and kickboxing or Thai boxing units. In most clubs, this is demanded by the coaches anyway.

Which gloves are better suited for training on the punching bag?

Boxing gloves and special sandbag gloves are better suited for training on the punching bag than MMA gloves. However, smaller, lighter boxing gloves are recommended to learn the correct hand position when punching for training on the punching bag.

The main disadvantage of MMA gloves is that the fingers are free and unprotected. During longer training sessions, this can very quickly lead to skin abrasions. Technically unclean punches are more likely to result in hand injuries due to the lack of better padding and bandages under the gloves.

It is advisable to use old boxing gloves or punching bag gloves for training on the punching bag. MMA gloves are highly unsuitable for this.

Boxing training on the punching bag for beginners at home (technology+workout)

Conclusion - the differences between boxing gloves and MMA gloves

Boxing gloves and MMA gloves meet different needs and are processed accordingly. Boxing gloves are handy for MMA ers when it comes to punching training. Ideally, they have sparring and boxing gloves for training on the punching bag.

MMA gloves offer added value in competition and competition sparring when all aspects of mixed martial arts are practiced together.

MMA gloves are of no value for boxers but only increase the risk of injury due to the less padding, the lack of possibility to bandage the hands under the gloves, and the unprotected fingers.

Enjoy the training!