7 Essential MMA Gear for Beginners (Low-Cost Guide)

Are you wondering what the essential MMA gear for beginners is?

In this article, we’ll examine the essential MMA gear for beginners and the nonessential but highly recommended gear for beginners.

Essential MMA Gear for Beginners

For both MMA training and competing, the 7 essential MMA gear for beginners are:

  1. Mouthguard
  2. Groin protection (cup)
  3. Boxing gloves
  4. MMA sparring gloves
  5. Hand wraps
  6. Head guard
  7. Shin guards

Let’s take a closer look at why these are essential MMA gear for beginners.

For each, a high-quality yet affordable product suitable for beginners will be recommended, taken from our article on the best MMA gear brands which includes research on each brand’s best product line.

1. Mouthguard

The most essential piece of MMA gear for beginners is a mouthguard as it’s required for both training and competing. Whether you’re striking, wrestling, or doing jiu-jitsu, the mouth and jaw are in danger of impact.

In combat sports, mouthguards protect the teeth, tongue, lips, gums, and jawline from being cut, broken, knocked out, or injured, by covering the top teeth with a protective thermoplastic layer to reduce impact and keep the jaw in place.

For maximum protection, mouthguards can be custom-made to fit dental impressions, but for beginners, many of the thousands of mouthguards on the market are sufficient; as long as they have a snug fit and allow you to breathe easily.

Mouthguards are so essential in MMA that if a fighter’s mouthguard has fallen out in a UFC fight, the referee briefly stops the fight so the fighter can put their mouthguard back in.

The best brand for mouthguards by far is Shock Doctor, a company specializing in sports protection, specifically mouthguard.

Venum Challenger Mouthguard – Red/Black
  • Nexfit Gel Frame for a better adjustment and comfort
  • Advanced design for an optimal breathing during the fight
  • High Density Rubber Frame for a better shock management and top…

2. Groin Protection (Cup)

Groin protection is another essential piece of MMA gear for beginners. The groin is protected by a cup, which is used to reduce the impact on the genitals. Without a cup, serious damage can occur such as the tearing of protective tissue, testicular rupture, and even infertility.

Most cups used in MMA are made from polycarbonate, polypropylene, or carbon fiber, and in Muay Thai they mostly use steel.

Men are required to wear a cup when competing and while training when there’s striking involved, and women don’t have to wear a cup in competition or training but are advised to.

As cups are mandatory during MMA competitions, it’s best to always wear a groin guard in training as a way to get used to it.

Cups are worn with a jockstrap or supporter, while most professional MMA fighters wear cups with compression shorts as they have a convenient pocket for the cup.

The best cup on the market which is worn by the majority of professionals is the Diamond MMA Groin Protection, but beginners who want a more budget-friendly option should opt for the Shock Doctor Supporter with BioFlex Cup ($18). As mentioned before, Shock Doctor are excellent for protection.

Shock Doctor Jock Strap Supporter with BioFlex Cup Included. Core Protective Sports Athletic Cup. Adult Men & Youth Sizes
  • PROTECTION – Shock Doctor has been the leading sports…
  • COMFORT – Created with breathable, four-way stretch mesh, the…
  • PERFORMANCE – Vented bio-shape cup designed to shield areas where…

3. Boxing Gloves

Boxing gloves are more essential than MMA gloves for beginners because they’re much more protective for the knuckles, hands, and wrists due to the extra padding they have. MMA gloves weigh between 4 to 8 ounces, whereas boxing gloves range from 8 to 18 ounces.

This is important as beginners don’t have conditioned hands and they need to remain injury free when learning punching techniques. As the hands get used to punching with bigger gloves, beginners can slowly move down in glove size.

Also, as a beginner to MMA, striking and grappling will generally be separated, so boxing gloves are much better suited to the process of learning how to punch – whether it’s heavy bag training or sparring with training partners.

Boxing gloves also prevent facial cuts and lessen the force of a punch when sparring. 

The best size of boxing gloves for MMA beginners is 16 ounces. This offers great protection during training and sparring and it also helps beginners build muscular endurance in their arms and shoulders.

This makes it easier to punch harder for longer when it comes to punching with the lighter MMA gloves.

While there are many boxing gloves available, from studying the market for hours on end, one of the best quality and affordable boxing gloves for beginners to use in MMA is the RDX boxing gloves ($30).

Going cheaper than this isn’t worth it as the quality dramatically decreases and another pair will need to be bought soon enough.

RDX Boxing Gloves Men Women, Pro Training Sparring, Maya Hide Leather Muay Thai MMA Kickboxing, Adult Heavy Punching Bag Gloves Mitts Focus Pad Workout, Ventilated Palm
  • EFFECTIVE IMPACT DISPERSION – Are your training gloves…
  • PATENT PENDING LOMA TECH DESIGN – Do you face trouble forming…
  • EXCEPTIONALLY DURABLE MATERIAL – No matter how hard you punch…

4. MMA Sparring Gloves

MMA sparring gloves are essential gear for beginners because they allow for striking and grappling to be combined, unlike boxing gloves which have to be taken off when wrestling and rolling (Bjj).

MMA sparring gloves provide adequate padding to protect the knuckles, hand, and wrist when striking, as well as your sparring partner’s face, and they’re also fingerless so wrestling and submissions can be performed.

This makes them perfect for sparring and all MMA training.

As MMA gloves (4-5 oz) are mandatory when competing, beginners should get used to striking, wrestling, and executing chokes and locks while wearing MMA gloves as this transfers over to competing.

MMA sparring gloves weigh either 7 or 8 ounces, and while you can purchase 5-ounce MMA grappling gloves made specifically for grappling, striking with these is ill-advised for beginners as the padding is inadequate and injury is likely.

Therefore, the best MMA sparring gloves for beginners are the UFC 8oz sparring gloves ($40) as they’re one of the only 8 oz sparring gloves on the market, and they’re high quality with a low price tag. For reasons unknown, most MMA brands only make 7 oz sparring gloves.

UFC 8oz MMA Sparring Gloves – L/XL – MMA Gloves, White, Large/X-Large
  • Open palm design
  • Comfortable finger compartments
  • 25mm EVA foam protection in striking area

5. Hand Wraps

Hand wraps are essential gear because they go underneath gloves to protect the hands and wrists. 

Hand wraps work by creating a flexible layer to fasten the bones and joints together so the impact from punching is distributed across the entire hand.

This fastening also stops the bones and joints in the hand and wrist from moving independently in different directions, which can cause fractures.

Hand wraps aren’t needed if there will be no striking in the MMA session, but both MMA and boxing gloves are designed with hand wraps in mind, so without them, the gloves feel uncomfortable because of rubbing.

In the Unified Rules of MMA, there aren’t any rules stipulating hand wraps must be worn when competing.

However, MMA professionals wear hand wraps under 4 or 5-ounce gloves as they have little padding and their hands and wrists are more likely to get injured, causing them to lose.

The #1 selling hand wraps on the market are the Sanabul Elastic Professional Handwraps ($7) because they’re great quality and they’re cheap.

Sanabul Boxing Handwraps Elastic 180 inch Blue
  • 1 Package/Set contains (2) hand wraps one for each hand 180…
  • Tested by Pros, Created For You: From pro boxers like NABO…
  • Hitting The Sweet Spot: Your boxing hand wrapping style is…

6. Headguard (Headgear)

A headguard is another essential piece of MMA gear for beginners. Headguards help minimize the risk of brain injury when training by reducing the impact of head strikes and knocks, and they also protect the face and ears.

The head can be impacted by strikes and it can be knocked on the ground or against opponents when grappling. The face is protected from facial cuts and abrasions, especially from sharp joints such as knees and elbows.

Lastly, head guards also help prevent practitioners from developing cauliflower ears, commonly caused by constant rubbing when wrestling and less so by the impact from strikes.

While headgear isn’t worn in professional MMA competitions, training without headgear causes many professional fighters to miss an upcoming fight as they’re not allowed to fight with large/deep cuts or abrasions on their face.

The main injuries caused by training without a head guard are cuts around the eyebrow/forehead area, friction/trauma of the ears, and concussions.

The most important aspect of headgear is getting a perfect fit. It should be snug and have little to no movement. For this reason, while you may pay a little extra, it’s best to buy headgear from a store rather than online so you can find a perfect fit.

Alternatively, if you feel you know your size, Sanabul Essential Headgear is a great option ($30).

Sanabul Essential Boxing Headgear for Men & Women | Muay Thai and MMA Headgear | Sparring Headgear | Boxing Head Gear with Full Face Coverage (Black, S/M)
  • Highly Functional Design: Sanabul Essential Boxing Headgear for…
  • Champion-Endorsed Excellence: Trusted by UFC Champion Michael…
  • Versatile Boxing Head Gear: Sanabul sparring gear is a versatile…

7. Shin Guards

Shin guards are essential MMA gear for beginners because they protect your foot, ankle, calves, and shins when kicking and defending calf kicks. With how common leg kicks are in MMA today, shin guards have become even more essential.

Training without shin guards leads to fractures, breaks, and bruising – ultimately rendering beginners unable to train and continue improving.

The most commonly injured area when kicking is the top of the foot and ankle area, so only buy shin guards covering these areas.

A great product lasting a very long time and offering great protection is the RDX Shin Guards ($46).

There are cheaper options available, such as the Venum Kontacts ($29), but the protection is more important than saving a few dollars. Essentially, the RDX uses Maya hide leather while the Venum’s use cotton.

RDX Shin Guards Kickboxing Muay Thai, SATRA SMMAF Approved, Premium Maya Hide Leather, Leg Instep Protection Pads, MMA Martial Arts Kicking Sparring Training Gear, BJJ Karate Boxing Taekwondo, Black
  • UPGRADED IMPACT DISPERSION With the revolutionary shin guards by RDX (approved by EMMAA, SMMAF, and FIGMMA), athletes…
  • PADDING FOR SHIN CONDITIONING By combining EVA-Lution foam, Infused Shock Dispersion sheet, and Spongy Blacktop Fabric…
  • STURDY MATERIALS FOR QUALITY Rigors of training demand that the materials used in the making of the shin pads are the…

Highly Recommended MMA Gear for Beginners

Here’s a list of nonessential but highly recommended MMA gear for beginners, especially after a couple of months of training.

  1. Rash guard
  2. MMA shorts

1. Rash Guard

While beginners can attend MMA classes with a normally fitted t-shirt, a rash guard is highly recommended for beginners who want to maximize their training sessions.

Rash guards are specifically designed to:

  • Protect the skin from cuts and abrasions
  • Protect against skin infections such as staph
  • Fit tightly so the opponent can’t easily grab clothing when grappling
  • Fit tightly to keep body hair under control (hygienic)
  • Reduce muscle soreness by improving blood circulation
  • Give you a professional look
  • Not rip and be durable
  • Be well-ventilated to keep you cool while training
  • Allow for a full range of motion
  • Wick sweat away

Rash guards are often made with polyester, spandex, and nylon, and they’re also one of the cheaper pieces of MMA gear. So, while rash guards aren’t essential to start MMA classes as a beginner, due to the numerous benefits they provide, many MMA practitioners consider rash guards essential gear.

2. MMA Shorts

Much like the rash guard, MMA shorts aren’t essential to start classes but they’re often seen that way not long after starting. 

MMA shorts are mostly made with spandex and polyester and are recommended gear for beginners because of the benefits they offer, such as:

  • Unrestricted movement
  • Comfortable and light because they have more room around the groin
  • Durability and nonripping
  • Fit tightly so the opponent can’t easily grab clothing when grappling
  • Sweat-wicking
  • Protect the opponent
  • An elastic waistband helps them stay in place

Under the Official Unified Rules of MMA, shorts aren’t allowed to have pockets, velcro, or zippers, which is a rule the majority of MMA gyms stand by. Many MMA gyms also rule no loose drawstrings are allowed.

The reason is they can cause danger to an opponent if they get their fingers or toes caught inside, and also because it offers somewhere for an opponent to grab, and holding an opponent’s shorts is also illegal in professional MMA.

The Bottom Line

For MMA training, beginners need essential MMA gear: a mouthguard, groin protection, boxing gloves, MMA sparring gloves, hand wraps, a head guard, and shin guards.

Using the above products, a beginner can get the 7 essential MMA gear for a rough total price of $185 – an absolute steal for a couple of years of MMA training without having to upgrade.

A few classes in, beginners may want to purchase a rash guard and MMA shorts because of the benefits they provide to their training.

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