What’s the Difference Between MMA and Boxing Gloves?

They may seem similar, but there are big time differences between boxing and MMA gloves. They are, after all, meant for two very different sports. Boxing gloves are designed for one thing: punching. They allow fighters to hit as hard as possible without hurting their hands. MMA gloves, on the other hand, are designed to be flexible and allow athletes use of their hands while fighting. 

What are the differences between boxing gloves and MMA gloves? There are several design features that make them uniquely suited for their individual sports. 

Open Palm and Fingers

The most noticeable difference between boxing and MMA gloves is the open palm and fingers present on MMA gloves. This flexibility is necessary in mixed martial arts, which involves grabbing, grappling, and throwing opponents. Boxing gloves are more like mittens that encase the entire fighter’s hands, making it very difficult to grab or hold onto anyone. 


By trying on a pair of MMA gloves and then boxing gloves, you will notice significant differences in the level and placement of the padding. Boxing gloves are generally heavier (they average 16oz vs the 4oz weight of MMA gloves) and feature extra padding in the fist, allowing fighters to hit harder and block incoming punches without harming their hands. They also feature extra padding at the wrists, which stabilizes the wrist and hand and better absorbs the impact of harder blows. MMA gloves are lighter and built for flexibility and mobility. 

Built in Features

Boxing gloves feature a sewn-on thumb that fully encases the fighter’s hand. Inside, you’ll also find a built-in handlebar. Both of these help position the fist so that proper punching technique is optimally maintained at all times. MMA gloves have a slight curve to them that naturally allows the hand to make a fist, and the open palm makes it relatively easy for the fighter to open their hands. 

The Need for Hand Wraps

Boxing bandages (or hand wraps) are commonly used in boxing to absorb shock and sweat while competing or training. They are more commonly used with boxing gloves because the gloves allow for the extra space to fit. MMA gloves tend to fit more snugly around a person’s hand and generally do not leave room for extensive wrapping of the hands. Wrapping hands would also defeat the purpose of MMA gloves, which is to allow for flexibility and movement. 

What Difference Does Glove Weight Make?

While boxing gloves are generally heavier, this doesn’t always translate to a harder punch. While it’s true that a heavier object (in this case, a person’s fist wrapped in a boxing glove) will have more momentum, it doesn’t always make for a harder punch when compared to MMA gloves. Because MMA gloves are significantly lighter, they allow for higher velocity strikes, which generally translates to a harder punch.  

Regardless of what hits harder, the design differences between MMA and boxing gloves are what make them usable in their respective sports.