Wondering What Essential MMA Gear Do I Need For Training

Boxing gloves lined up on training mat.

If you have been seriously considering taking up MMA as either a hobby or in a more competitive role. Then you need to start thinking about what MMA gear you will need to compete at any level.

The answer is that there are several key pieces of MMA gear required for training. From the very basic, right up to the professional level in the sport. These include MMA gloves, mouth guard, groin guard, shin guards and more.

Mixed martial arts is a pretty rough sport and you need to be completely protected during your time in the gym. Whatever you do, don’t skimp on the necessary things you need in order to train to your full potential.

While you will never train risk-free, you can at the very least do the minimum to ensure your personal safety. This includes the key pieces of kit I will discuss in more detail throughout this article. So buckle up and let’s take a look into what you should be buying.

List Of Essential MMA Gear

Below you will find a pretty comprehensive list of the essential MMA gear that you will need to begin training. You can of course start with some basics like boxing gloves, mouth guard, shin guards and a groin guard. Then as you get more into the process, slowly add to your collection.

  • 7oz MMA Gloves
  • Mouth Guard
  • Groin Guard
  • Shin Guards
  • 16oz Boxing Gloves
  • Hand Wraps
  • Rash Guard
  • MMA Shorts

What follows below is the much more in-depth reasons for choosing the right equipment for your mixed martial arts training. Listed in the order of their importance.

7oz MMA Gloves For Grappling

So I am specifically specifying 7oz MMA gloves here and not 4oz MMA gloves. As a beginner, you may only be aware of 4-ounce gloves from watching the sport of mixed martial arts. The reason for 4oz gloves is that those are the weight of MMA gloves sanctioned for professional fighters.

At amateur, 7 oz MMA gloves are the normal weight. So this is what you would wear when both training MMA, as well as when or if you compete. These gloves will be used in both grappling and some striking or sparring.

So get any notion of buying 4oz MMA gloves out of your head right now. Unless you plan to jump straight into the big leagues and face off against your favourite UFC fighter from the getgo?

Mouth Guard To Protect Your Teeth

I love my teeth and so should you. You only get one set of them and when they get damaged, it can both be unbelievably painful and expensive to get repaired. So having a mouth guard for your teeth is a critical part of training.

Now a mouth guard is second on the list because you use it when both grappling on the ground and in any standup sparring. So you may choose not to do standup sparring and that is fine. But you will at some point be ground fighting. And this is where many accidents happen in the form of an unseen elbow or knee catching you in the face.

If you are lucky you may just get a cut on your lip or a bloody nose. But if you are unlucky, you may end up breaking, loosening or even losing some teeth.

Groin Guard To Protect The Family Jewels

Like your teeth, you only get one set to love and cherish. Generally speaking, you do not wear a groin guard when only grappling or doing submissions. Some people will wear them and some people will not.

But you will most certainly need your groin guard when you do any sparring. Sparring, like a real MMA fight, can quickly switch between gound and standup. So where once you were pretty safe on the mats. Soon after a not so well placed kick can be making its way to your groin area.

I have had it done to me, I have done it to other people, and I have seen it done to others too. So it is fair to say it is quite a common occurrence. Especially when you are dealing with those who may be quite new to the sport.

Shin Guards To Save The Pain

I have placed shin guards in 4th place on the list, because while getting kicked in the shin can be very painful indeed. It is not on the same level as getting kicked in the groin or losing some teeth.

Quality shin guards are at the same time a very important component of your MMA training gear gym bag. There are all types of shin guards out there ranging from the foam padded sock style, along with the most common more expensive shin guards I have seen with foot protectors. Right up to the full-on professional level shin guard used by many Muay Thai fighters, offering the very best protection.

Again it is very important that you choose the right type for you. But I would advise you not to go for the lowest cost cloth shin pads. As when that kick does inevitably land, and both kickers are wearing the cheaper brand. It is going to hurt like hell!

16oz Boxing Gloves for Sparring

When I have normally done full-on stand up sparring, we will often use the much bigger 16oz boxing gloves. The reason for this is that it allows you to throw harder punches, with less of an impact on your sparring partner.

The smaller sparring gloves are generally used for grappling sparring. Whereas the larger 16-ounce boxing gloves are for when the action begins on the feet, sometimes ending up on the ground in a scramble.

My own MMA gear laid out on the floor including a BJJ Gi, boxing gloves, MMA gloves, hand wraps and more.
A look inside my gym bag at my own MMA gear for training.

I would recommend adding them to your gym gear to try and minimise the chances of hurting your training partners in the club. I have been hit square on the nose with a lot of power, by someone wearing 8oz gloves during training and it is not fun.

Boxing Hand Wraps To Protect Your Hands

So if you are going to be working on the bag, improving your striking, sparring your teammates inside the club or competing inside the cage. You will need some hand wraps.

The reasoning behind hand wraps is that they both protect your hands as well as make your hands more compact and harder. Which equals a more concussive and powerful punch. Some cornermen as specifically known for their style of hand wrapping. Some fighters, even attribute their winning punch down to the quality of their hand wraps on fight night.

Generally speaking, it’s good to wrap your hands to protect the smaller bones from damage. As I learned myself, in many cases it can be too late before you notice there is indeed a problem.

Rash Guard To Protect Your Skin

An integral part of the sport of mixed martial arts is grappling or submission grappling. This is where you will spend the majority of your time on the ground, wrestling and trying to submit your opponent.

During this process, you will often end up with friction burns or grazes on your skin. This especially happens when you are wearing clothing that is not fit for purpose.

The idea behind using a rash guard is to minimise the abrasiveness by making the grappling exchanges more frictionless. The material means you tend to slide more than harshly grind against the other person. Using a rash guard helps to stop much of that and leads to a more enjoyable session on the mats.

MMA Shorts To Look The Part

So you have seen them on all the fighters and now you too want a pair! Ok, so I will be honest and say that MMA shorts are not integral to you learning the sport. Essentially being board shorts with some branding.

This is not meant to dissuade you from using them, it’s just that I have never used them myself. Either choose to use regular sports shorts, Muay Thai shorts or even board shorts that were fit for purpose. And it did not stop me from kicking plenty of ass along the way.

That being said there are some pretty cool looking shorts that are great to use during your time in MMA training. So if you don’t already have anything suitable, definitely check them out.

Ear Guards To Avoid Cauliflower Ear

Ear guards are generally only used when it comes to ground fighting, so grappling exchanges, wrestling and BJJ or Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. The science behind them is that they help stop the condition known as cauliflower ears.

Now believe it or not, for some people cauliflower ears are a badge of honour. I can understand that, as they represent the many hours, days, months and years people spent perfecting their martial art on the mats.

Alexander Gustafsson shows his cauliflower ear.
Alexander Gustafsson’s distinctive cauliflower ear

But for others, cauliflower ears are an unwanted, irreversible side effect of training mixed martial arts. So if you are a regular on the mats, whether in MMA or BJJ. You will at some point encounter the condition to varying degrees.

Personally speaking, I did for a time start to get a little taste of it on my own ear and it was sore as hell. Already having rather large ears, the thought of even larger distended ones was not too appealing.

Head Guard To Minimise Trauma

Now the only place I have ever seen a head guard being worn. Was during professional MMA fighters training sessions. None of the amateurs I personally trained with used them, but that does not mean they shouldn’t!

During full contact sparring, anything can happen. The difference between amateur and professional sparring is really all about intensity. As when you have someone who is preparing at that level. They are looking to push their training to another level. And as a result, the sessions can get pretty intense and some heavy shots are thrown.

So there is a time and a place for head guards and it is entirely up to you whether you chose to wear it or not. If it makes you feel safer and trains better then great. I was going to say, knock yourself out. Probably not the best saying in this particular case.

In Conclusion

So there is a range of MMA gear required for you to partake in the sport and train safely. Some you can do without for the first few sessions in the gym. However, I am sure that even if you don’t think you need it. It won’t be long before your coach is telling you to add to your kit.

As is often the case many people come to the gym and don’t have the essential kit. This means they will sometimes use some old gear that is laying around. Much of this gear is well worn and usually pretty smelly. So if someone else’s od sweat isn’t a turn-off, you’re a better man than me.

So if I were you, I would definitely consider buying my own kit as soon as possible. It makes both your and others lives easier, best of luck.

A Related Question

I have been involved with and follow both the sport of mixed martial arts and boxing. One of the burning questions I often hear thrown around is, in a street fight between an MMA fighter vs boxing, who wins?

It is one of those questions in which there are so many variables to take into account. Obviously, both groups of fans and fighters themselves have their opinions. But it’s a subject I wanted to dig a little bit deeper into to uncover the most honest and realistic answer.