Do UFC Fighters Wear Cups? (Surprising Answer)

Do UFC fighters wear ups? Spoiler alert: Yes, they do – but that wasn’t always the case.

In this article, we’ll look at why UFC fighters wear cups, the history of cups in the UFC, the different types of cups and what they’re made of, how effective they are, and more.

What Are Cups in the UFC?

Cups, also known as MMA cups, are equipment fighters can wear to protect their groins, as referred to by the Official Unified Rules of MMA.

As well as protection, cups are used by male fighters to keep everything in place and prevent slippage, while remaining comfortable and without restricting movement.

Do UFC Fighters Wear Cups?

Yes, UFC fighters wear cups.

Groin shots have been illegal in the UFC since 1997, and cups were seen as an effective way to protect against groin strikes.

While UFC fighters are only required to wear cups during professional fights, they also often choose to wear them during training sessions.

Do Female UFC Fighters Wear Cups?

Female UFC fighters are not required to wear cups but can wear groin protection if they want to. This is usually a pad rather than a cup.

Some report that groin protection for female UFC fighters is prohibited. However, nowhere in the Official Unified Rules of MMA does it mention female UFC fighters being prohibited from using groin protection such as cups or pads.

Reinforcing this, John McCarthy tweeted in 2017, “There is a pad that can be worn, but it is not mandatory and most girls do not have or use any type of protection against a groin shot”.

The pads are made of artificial leather or foam, offering a layer of protection while being more comfortable and less restrictive to movement. However, they can use a cup if they prefer.

Some female MMA fighters prefer not to use any groin protectors to avoid discomfort caused by extra padding, such as pinching, rubbing, or sweating.

Have Cups Always Been Worn by UFC Fighters?

No, cups haven’t always been worn by UFC fighters.

Despite the UFC being founded in 1993, groin strikes weren’t banned until UFC 14 in 1997, and cups weren’t mandatory for male UFC fighters until the organization adopted the unified rules of MMA in November 2000.

As groin strikes were permitted from 1993 to 1997, it was unwise not to wear a cup even though UFC fighters weren’t required to. Regardless, many decided against their use because they were uncomfortable and restricted movement.

The most infamous fight showcasing the barbarity of groin strikes was between Keith Hackney and Joe Son at UFC 4 (December 16, 1994). This fight showed how effective cups are as a groin guard and the reason for the eventual rule changes in 1997 and 2000.

Since UFC 28 (November 17th, 2000), male UFC fighters have their cups checked by a state athletic committee official before being allowed to enter the octagon.

What Are MMA Cups Made of?

Most cups UFC fighters have worn since the UFC’s inception were made of carbon fiber.

Carbon fiber is lightweight and doesn’t hinder movement. It’s very rigid and strong, significantly reducing the impact of blows to the groin, and the hardness of the cup deters fighters from striking the groin region.

The outside of carbon fiber cups is usually made of foam, and sometimes thermoplastic rubber. This padding reduces chafing of the skin, but also makes the cup shock absorbent, reducing vibration and cup movement while improving comfort.

UFC fighters can choose other types of cups as long as they are approved by the commissioner.

Other legal MMA cups are made of:

  • Polycarbonate. Used in what is now the gold-standard of cups, the Diamond MMA cup, this durable material is said to be the same used in bulletproof vehicles. It’s also often paired with the Diamond compression shorts.
  • Polypropylene. This is a plastic material used for its fatigue resistance, meaning it retains its shape well. It’s also tough and somewhat elastic, offering strong protection without endangering opponents.
  • Steel. Also referred to as Muay Thai cups as they’re often used to protect against heavy knees and leg strikes. Their weight makes them less comfortable, less compact, and more likely to shift during a fight.

Note: Steel cups are rarely used because they can cause significant damage to an opponent when striking, wrestling, sprawling, or anytime a fighter’s head comes close to the cup region. Commentators such as Joe Rogan have said they should be banned.

How Are MMA Cups Secured?

We’ve established that UFC fighters wear cups, but how are MMA cups secured?

Jocks-style straps are the traditional way of securing cups.

They have a waistband and straps that wrap around the legs to keep the cup in place, and an elastic drawstring for adjusting cup tightness and maneuverability. Official UFC shorts are worn on top.

Compression shorts are the modern solution to securing cups.

They have a built-in cup pouch and jockstrap system for securing the cup, and an elastic drawstring for adjusting cup tightness. They’re also form-fitting as they’re made with military-grade elastics and premium spandex; further helping secure the straps and cup.

As of 2022, most UFC fighters secure their cups by wearing compression shorts as they offer an all-in-one product (more efficient).

Finally, having a secure cup depends on the cup size. As professionals, they have their body measurements sized and the shorts and cups specifically tailored for maximum comfort, protection, and security.

How Else Are UFC Fighters Protected?

Cups aren’t the only piece of protective gear used by UFC fighters. Here are a few others to be aware of:

  • Gumshields/mouthguards. Used to protect their teeth, tongue, and gums, as well as keep their jaw bone in place.
  • Rash guards. Short-sleeved or sleeveless form-fitting and/or sports bra for female fighters to prevent spillage. They also protect against burns and scratches.
  • Hand wraps. Made from cloth gauze or white athletic tape plus a single layer of elastic or flex-type tape to protect hands from breaks or fractures.
  • Gloves. Used to protect hands from breaks or fractures as well as soften blows to a fighter’s opponent.
  • Headguards. Used to soften the impact of blows to the head of fighters. They’re not permitted for use in UFC fights and are used in sparring or training.

The Bottom Line

Do UFC fighters wear cups? Yes, they offer proven benefits such as protection and the prevention of slippage.

If you’ve ever watched UFC, you know groin strikes are common. You also know that due to the nature of the sport, groin strikes are likely to continue. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *