Although both are fight sports, boxing and mixed martial arts use different rules and conventions. This affects not only how the athletes compete, but also the design of the equipment they wear. This is most evident in the gloves fighters of both styles wear, with each designed for the particulars of its sport.
One of the most marked differences between the two kinds of gloves is the treatment of the fighter's fingers. Boxing gloves go on like mittens, wrapping all the fingers in a single padded compartment. Mixed martial arts gloves separate the fingers like regular gloves and leave the final knuckles and fingertips exposed. This difference comes from the fact that MMA fighters need to be able to use their hands unencumbered during the grappling action of a match.
Another easily spotted difference between boxing gloves and MMA gloves is the amount of padding. Boxing gloves are heavily padded -- often with more than a pound of soft material. MMA gloves are sleeker, thinner and less padded. In boxing competition, a fighter delivers and receives hundreds of punches. Most of these punches go to the head. MMA competition includes punching, but also kicks and grappling holds. Though a great deal of punches can be thrown during an MMA match, the gloves are designed to accommodate grappling, kicking and submission maneuvers as well.
Traditional boxing gloves wrap around as much as half a fighter's forearms and are held in place by laces similar to those on your shoes. Mixed martial arts gloves rarely cover more than the top of the wrist and are held closed with a wrapping strap and Velcro tabs. modern boxing gloves are also available with the strap-and-Velcro closure, a style used more often in training than in competition.
Boxers wear wrist wraps around their hands and wrists to protect the wrist, knuckles and forearms from the impact of hundreds of punches. Boxing gloves are sized to accommodate this extra load. MMA fighters do not wear wrist wraps in competition so the glove is noticeably more compact with little room between the hand and the glove itself.
- Bill Packer; Kickboxing Coach; Bad Company Fight Team; Albuquerque, New Mexico
- MMA Underground: Boxing Gloves vs. MMA Gloves
- "MMA for Dummies"; Frank Shamrock; 2008