Mixed Martial Artistry, abbreviated as MMA, is a combat sport that pits two fighters against one another in a ring often referred to as an octagon. Each fighter is equipped with gloves and fighting trunks specially designed for the sport. The ultimate goal is to defeat your opponent. This can be done in three ways: knocking out the opponent or rendering them unable to continue as determined by the referee (KO/TKO), placing the opponent in a submission hold and forcing them to tap out, or winning by decision. Winning by decision occurs when no clear winner has emerged after the allotted number of rounds, leaving the final verdict to the points awarded to each fighter by a panel of judges throughout the fight.
Naturally, MMA is a violent sport, so a sport like that needs some accessories to protect the athletes. MMA accessories are meant to protect you so you can fight to the best of your ability. Whether it be the ankle supports, mouthguards, hand wraps or sparring gloves, every single piece of equipment has a purpose. We are going to take a look at what purpose they serve and what you should be looking for when buying the accessories.
Ankle supports are used to provide support and protection from various ankle injuries, but they can also be used for preventative measures. In MMA, ankle supports are worn in training and competition to prevent injuries or avoid reaggravating an old one.
Choosing the best ankle support will depend on what you need. The first thing to consider is comfort. You have to make sure it is the correct size and material. Materials include neoprene and fabric. Another element you need to consider is what type of support you need. Sleeves are the lightest material, followed by straps and lace up braces.
Ankle supports can cost between $10 and $20.
Body shields are protective equipment used in MMA. They cover the torso so the person wearing it does not get injured during sparring or training. When you are sparring with another fighter it absorbs the impact of kicks and punches so they do not harm you.
When buying a body shield you should consider protection, comfort, and mobility. If you are going into a heavy striking session, a body shield with more protection is recommended. On the other hand, if you are having a light sparring session and want to be able to move around, lighter padding would be better.
Body protectors can cost about $60.
In between rounds, fighters rush to their corner for a one-minute break while their cornermen are frantic to fix up the cuts on their faces. The way they do this is with coagulants.
Whenever you get a cut, platelets, the body's natural coagulant, rush to the cut to stop the bleeding. MMA coagulants are made to stop the bleeding and do so by attracting these platelets at a quick rate. This causes the bleeding to stop, so the fighter is not constantly wiping their face.
The MMA world uses hemostatic bandages, which have a coagulant material in the gauze or bandage that clots the blood. When looking to buy one, it should be labeled as a hemostatic bandage on the packaging. These cost about $15.
Double end bags are circular bags that are attached to the ceiling and floor of a gym, so they are often referred to as floor-to-ceiling bags. Fighters use this to train their hand eye coordination and speed. When the bag is hit, it moves forward, back and side to side, so it is fast and hard to hit.
It also trains fighters to miss. While practicing on the double end bag, they will miss a lot, so they have to step back and practice throwing accurate punches, rather than getting frustrated and throwing haymakers.
When buying a double end bag you should look for what type of material it is made out of. This will help you figure out whether or not it is durable. Normally, durable double end bags are made out of leather and lined up with nylon. The bags should also come with two swivels and elastic bands for ceiling and floor mounting, but sometimes they are sold separately. They can cost from $20 to $60.
Wrestling and jiu-jitsu are a huge component of MMA. During training, it is recommended to wear ear guards to protect the ears from injury. The most common one that people see is cauliflower ear. This where a person's ears puff up, and is caused by constant rubbing and trauma. It is basically a hematoma, or built up blood, that forms in the ear.
Things you should consider when buying ear guards are protection, comfort, and fit. The guard should have enough cushioning to protect you from heavy hits, and it should also have abrasion protection. The ear guard should also be comfortable so it does not distract you during training. The last thing you want is to be fidgeting with your ear guard while going up against a tough opponent in practice.Lastly, the ear guard should fit tight so it does not slip on and off when you start sweating.
These are typically $15 to $35.
Getting hit in the face is not fun, and neither is the swelling that comes afterwards, but an enswell is an accessory that can alleviate some of that pain. An enswell is a device made of a solid block of steel and is stored in ice so it is kept cold. In between rounds of fights, cornermen apply the enswell to the fighter's face and the cold compress slows down blood flow that can cause swelling. Preventing swelling is crucial in fights because the last thing you want is your eye swollen shut when fighting an opponent.
When looking for an enswell you should consider the materials, style, and effectiveness. The best material to use is stainless steel, because it cannot rust. Enswells are usually kept in ice water, or event freezers, so it is essential to get one that does not wear down over time. There are two styles: flat-iron and rounced-ice. The flat-iron covers more surface area, while the rounded-ice design stays colder for longer. Lastly, you want it to be effective. The enswell should have great temperature retention so it is able to stop swelling and numb your face.
A good enswell can cost about $20.
Since MMA is a fairly violent sport by nature, it is also important to have several first-aid items on hand to deal with any injuries that might occur during a fight or practice session. These include petroleum jelly, cotton swabs/balls, nose plugs, ice, and coagulants.
In MMA, there is a possibility that the fight may end up on the ground, and from there you need to be able to deliver strikes. This is called ground and pound, and an MMA floor bag helps you train for these situations. It allows you to be in different positions, such as half guard or full guard, and deliver blows to the bag without getting hit back. It is a great way to work on striking from the ground.
When looking for a floor bag you should look for weight and durability. These bags can vary in weight, so it is important to buy something that you can handle. They also need to be durable, so buying one with some vinyl construction and foam liner will help it last longer. These cost about $100.
To work on your punches, it is crucial to have some focus mitts. While you strap on some boxing gloves, your training partner will put on some focus mitts. These are used to work on your precision and speed, and to sharpen your jabs, hooks, uppercuts, power punches, and weaving. Your training partner can place the mitts wherever they want, and tell you what punch you should throw. This develops some rhythm, but it can be broken when your partner throws a punch, which you have to weave out of.
Focus mitts should be thick and durable so the trainer does not get hurt. They should also have some ventilation in the back, and fit snug so the mitt does not fly off the trainer's hands.
A good mitt can cost about $40.
Forearm guards are padded sleeves used to protect your forearm and elbow during a fight. In MMA, you may block a head kick with your forearm, or take a couple slams while wrestling, so it is important not to disregard that part of your body.
When picking a forearm guard, the fit is the most important factor. It should not be too tight where it is cutting off circulation, or be so loose that you have to constantly adjust it.
Another thing to consider is the style. The simplest one is an arm sleeve. You can slip your arm through the hole and adjust it however you want. Another style is one with a glove at the end. Your thumb slips through a hole and allows you to grip the guard, making it feel more secure.
Forearm guards cost between $14 and $60.
Gauze is a clothlike material that is used to wrap a fighter's hands before a fight. Gauze is the first layer of the wrap, and then tape goes over it. Unlike handwraps, they are not reusable.
Wrapping your hands with gauze protects your hand and wrist bones during a fight. If you are constantly delivering punches, your hands are naturally going to get beat up, but the first layer of gauze provides a cushion for the delicate bones in your hands.
Gauze is used mainly in fights because it is light, durable, and will not come apart once wrapped properly. Before you strap up, you should consider a couple things.
First is the size of the gauze. The industry standard is 5 centimeters by 10 meters, but they can be larger than that. This means it is 5 centimeters wide and 10 meters long when completely rolled out. The gauze should also have some elasticity to it. This will help wrap your hands more securely and allow the gauze to stretch and maneuver around your hands.
A pack of 50 rolls will run you about $50.
Having all this equipment means you should probably keep it organized, and that is exactly what a MMA gear bag is for. When going to training, it is helpful to have all your equipment in one bag so you do not have to keep pulling stuff out of the back of your car. This also keeps your equipment from getting lost.
Looking for a bag is pretty simple. Any generic gym bag would work, but you should look for one that has breathable material so your equipment will not stink up your bag. The bag should also have different compartments where you can properly organize all the equipment you have. So if you need your forearm guards, you'll grab them and go.
A good bag will cost you about $30 to $60.
At first glance, you will obviously notice that MMA gloves are different from boxing gloves. This is because MMA can also be fought on the ground, so the fingers and gloves are exposed for grappling. The MMA glove is one of the most important pieces of equipment to have, so it is essential to have a pair for sparring, training, and competition.
Sparring focuses on striking, so you are going to want a glove with some more padding around the knuckles. Training gloves have segmented fingers; this allows you to incorporate grappling into your training.
Competition gloves are the lightest out of all of these, weighing about 4 ounces. These gloves have the fingers separated to allow for full range of motion, and have minimal padding, and because of this the fighter must wrap their hands before a competition.
Prices can range from $25 to $60.
Accidents happen, especially in a chaotic sport like MMA, so having groin protectors are just as necessary as any other piece of equipment. Groin protectors are exactly what they sound like: they protect your groin from kicks, knees, and on rare occasions, punches.
Some fighters do not wear groin protectors just because they can be uncomfortable. It is important to take the extra step and find one that is comfortable so it does not cause rashes or chaffing, and has enough protection.
A solid investment in these can cost you between $50-90.
Unlike gauze, cloth hand wraps are used for MMA training, and this is for a couple reasons. First, they are reusable and take less time to wrap. When you have some experience under your belt, you will be able to wrap your own hands. After you use them, you can throw them in the washer and dryer and they are good as new. You can also hit full force with these wraps. Even though gauze and tape provides better protection during competition, hand wraps are perfect for sparring, punching a heavy bag, or just shadow boxing.
When looking for a cloth wrap, you should know that they are about 180-210 inches long, and the longer length provides more protection because you have more material to wrap your hands with. The only downside is that the range of motion in your wrists will be limited.
Prices range from $6 to $18.
The last thing you want during training is to get cut in the face, or even knocked out. MMA headgear can reduce the chance of this happening. Studies show that headgear can significantly reduce the force delivered to the brain.
When buying headgear you should invest in one that is comfortable, light, and have some enough padding to cover a majority of your face. A couple downsides to wearing headgear are that your vision is impaired and you often get a false sense of security.
Good quality headgear can range from $38 to $250.
Training with a sparring partner is a high risk activity in MMA. Your opponent can deliver punches and kicks to your head, torso and legs, so sometimes you want to train with something that reduces the amount of damage you are taking. This is exactly what a heavy bag is for.
A heavy bag is a cylindrical, cloth filled bag that hangs from a ceiling. You can punch and kick the bag to develop strength, because the bag resists your strikes.
Some bags may come filled or unfilled, so make sure you read carefully before buying the product. Also, you should pick a heavy bag based on your weight. An easy way to calculate it is to use a heavy bag that is around half of your body weight. Here is a sizing table:
|Body Weight||Bag Weight|
|140 lbs||70 lbs|
|180 lbs||90 lbs|
|220 lbs||110 lbs|
|260 lbs||130 lbs|
Heavy bags can cost anywhere between $70 and $300 depending on the size and brand.
Injuries are going to happen in MMA. They are inevitable, but one thing that can help speed up the healing process is some ice packs. These are used when fighters go to their corners in between rounds, and even during training. Wherever a fighter gets bruised, ice packs are immediately put on to prevent swelling.
When looking for one, make sure it is the kind that does not need to be pre-frozen. It should be ready to use simply by breaking, shaking, and applying to the injury.
They are fairly cheap, costing about $2 each.
A huge stereotype of boxers and MMA fighters is that they all jump rope, and most do, but there are practical reasons for it. For starters, it helps build stamina without putting so much pressure on the knees and ankles. Jogging long distances can put a ton of pressure on the ankles, knees, and even lower back. Jumping rope is a safer alternative.
You also develop footwork and rhythm while jumping rope, which can help with sparring and competing. People often get discouraged because they cannot get the timing right, but all you need to do is keep practicing and buy a decent rope.
You should look for one that is durable, typically made with plastic or stainless steel, because the handles can wear out over time. Prices can range from $10 to $70 depending on the brand and material.
Knee guards help protect your knees from unwanted impact during sparring or grappling. It is not uncommon to get kicked in the knees while sparring, especially if you are checking or blocking them with the side of your knee. Good knee guards have pads in front and around the sides of the knee cap, giving it full protection.
The pads should also be durable, comfortable, and light so you will not have a problem moving around. Knee pads can be used as a preventative measure so you are not sidelined for weeks with a knee injury.
They cost anywhere from $12 to $40.
A huge part of being in MMA is having a strength and conditioning routine, and medicine balls are equipment used for this routine. They are balls made of either rubber, nylon, or leather and can be stuffed with sand, gel or air. The ones filled with air bounce. They help develop power, speed, and core strength and can help mimic complex movements of fights.
When holding a medicine ball, it forces your core muscles to turn on. Those same muscles are used to twist and stabilize your torso while throwing punches, kicks, or takedowns. For example, a medicine ball slam is an exercise where you have to throw the ball as hard as possible toward the floor. This ends up being a full body workout, but trains your muscles to turn on their fast twitch fibers so they can move rapidly.
Medicine balls can be large, small, and even have handles, but the main thing you should be looking for is durability because you are going to be slamming them a lot. They can be $30 to $90 depending on the type of medicine ball.
A mouth guard is a no-brainer for MMA. In a combat sport, it is absolutely necessary so you can protect your jaw and mouth. In MMA there are two types of mouthguards: custom and boil and bite.
A custom mouth guard is more expensive, but it provides the best fit and protection because it is molded for your mouth. This prevents you from taking it out with your tongue and allows for better breathing and speaking.
A boil and bite is exactly what it sounds like. They are made out of a specialized plastic that softens in water. After you take it out of the water, it conforms under the pressure of your teeth and hardens. These are much cheaper than custom mouthguards.
Custom mouth guards can cost about $80 while boil and bites are around $10.
During a fight, you may get hit and suffer a bloody nose. So it is crucial to have some nose plugs. These are used to stop nose bleeding in between rounds of fights, but can be used for other cuts as well.
These usually come in bulk, and can get lost easily, so it is also important to keep them in a tote or small bag so you know exactly where they are when you need them. Nose plugs are made of cotton and are extremely pliable.
A pack of 50 costs about $10.
During training, cornermen use punch counters to keep track of how many punches their fighter has thrown throughout their sparring session. This is done to learn about your volume, agility, and speed of your punches. There are two different punch counters: mechanical and electronic.
Mechanical counters are much cheaper, and are very simple. All you have to do is hit one button to count the punches as they are happening, and press another button to restart.
Electronic counters are very expensive, but are extremely accurate. Here is how they work: a sensor is attached to your wrist, or under your glove, and is connected to an app. The app then tracks your speed, power, number of punches and best combinations.
Mechanical counters can cost about $7, while electronic ones are about $140.
Although rash guards are normally worn surfing, they also have a use in MMA. Rash guards are used when you are grappling, wrestling, or doing jiu-jitsu with another opponent.
This prevents bacteria and infections from spreading. Ringworm and staph infections can be spread easily while grappling, so it is advised to take preventative measures and wear a rash guard. They also prevent mat burns, which are caused by your skin rubbing up against the mat.
Rash guards are normally made with a six pane style, which allows them to be tight while still letting you move freely. They also have flat lock stitching, which makes them durable and able to withstand tugs and pulls.
They will run you between $14 and $65.
Often confused with a double-end bag, the reflex bag is its own piece of equipment. It is a punching bag attached to a long pole, a spring, and a weighted base. It is used to train a fighter's hand-eye coordination, punch speed, and their ability to bob and weave.
The reflex bag sways in every direction, which gives the fighter 360-degrees of access. Once you hit the bag, it will shoot forward, then come back in the same direction you hit it. Then you can weave out of the way and reset yourself for another punch.
When buying a reflex bag you should consider the height of the bag. Most are adjustable, and are supposed to come up to your sternum or the top of your shoulders. You should also have some sand or water handy to fill up the base of the bag. This will prevent it from tipping over.
Lastly, you should know what material to use inside the bag. Most bags are filled with air, so you can build up your speed. More experienced fighters can fill it with foam so they can strengthen their wrists. Reflex bags are about $100.
When sparring, protective gear is a must. An area that is extremely vulnerable to injury is your lower leg. Whether you are delivering kicks, or checking them, your shins will get injured if not properly protected. This is why shin guards are used in MMA. It is to protect you, and your sparring partner, from unwanted damage during a sparring session. There are a couple factors that go into picking the right shin guard.
First, the material. There are different levels to shock absorption with shin guards. Here is a list from the weakest to strongest materials:
Other than being able to protect you, the shin guards should fit properly and be comfortable. They can come in sleeves or have a velcro strap to secure the guard. Prices can range from $17 to $70 depending on the brand and level of protection.
MMA is a sport filled with uncertainty. You can either end up on the ground, against the cage, or remain standing. All these situations require you to have full mobility in your legs, so you can move around easily. This is what MMA shorts are for.
MMA shorts or trunks come in different shapes and sizes. They can be long like basketball shorts or extremely short. It is all based on your preference. Generally there is a specific design to all of them.
They are made of a spandex and polyester composite material, which allows the shorts to stretch so you can move freely without ripping the shorts. It also makes it breathable so you do not overheat. Some also have split seems, which lets you perform high kicks without tearing your shorts. To keep everything secured, most shorts have a rubber waistband and a velcro fastening system.
MMA shorts can cost between $12 and $80.
Unlike MMA competition gloves, sparring gloves are much bulkier. This is for a couple reasons. First, they protect you during hard sparring sessions. The last thing you want is a hand injury during a session, so sparring gloves are larger in size, about seven ounces, and have extra padding around the knuckles. This also makes them more durable. You will use these every time you train, so you want gloves that last.
The best gloves are made out of polyurethane, a material that makes the glove very durable. When picking a glove, they should also be comfortable and snug. You do not want to be fidgeting with your glove during a sparring session.
A good pair can cost you between $20 and $60.
Another piece of equipment that can help you work on your punches is a speed bag. This punching bag is mounted on a horizontal backboard and is used to develop speed, shoulder and arm endurance, hand-eye coordination, timing, and power. The most common way to use the bag is to hit it with the side of your fists. Once you hit it the first time, the air filled bag quickly comes back and you have to hit it again. It can be a great aerobic exercise. The key is to first develop a rhythm before you ramp up your speed. This will ensure that you have proper technique.
Prices range from $80 to $270 depending on the brand and set-up.
A spider bag is an extremely unique piece of equipment. It is a round punching bag that comes with four long resistance bands. These bands attach to each corner of a boxing ring. Once everything is hooked up, boxers punch the bag and must bob and weave under and around the bands. It is great for working on your defense and offense all in one session.
Spider bags should be durable, and made from leather. They are also filled up with air so they move fast; forcing you to react quickly to the movement. The ball is normally eight inches in diameter and the bands are 72 inches in length.
They cost $80.
Before a competition, fighters wrap their wrists for protection. During a sparring session, they might use hand wraps which are convenient because they are reusable. However, the best way to protect your wrists and hands is to use tape and gauze. After you get your hands wrapped with gauze, it is time to put on the last layer of tape. The gauze and tape technique is the best way to protect your wrists.
A pack of 32 rolls costs about $60.
MMA can be fought in a traditional boxing ring, but most are fought inside an octagon. These are 30 feet wide and six feet tall, and were made popular by the UFC. The cage is lined with bumpers at the top, and the floor is covered in either vinyl or canvas. Most MMA gyms already have a cage or ring, so it is only necessary to buy one if you have space in your home, or if you are building your own gym.
A 30 foot ring can cost about $16,000.
Water bottles in MMA are made so fighters can get a quick drink so they can continue with their fight or training session. In between rounds, it would be a waste of time to get a regular water bottle, unscrew the cap and finally drink it. It is also almost impossible to unscrew a cap with gloves on. These bottles can be squeezed, which immediately gives you the water without wasting a second.
They cost between $8 and $20.
MMA equipment is unlike the equipment used in virtually every other sport with the exception of boxing. This is because it is specifically tailored to fit the needs of a combat sport. Whereas many other sports require a variety of bodily protection and outerwear, MMA represents true feats of human strength and endurance by leaving fighters to battle with only gloves and trunks serving as protection.
As mentioned above, the most important MMA equipment to buy are the gloves and trunks. Without these two items, it is nearly impossible to properly partake in the sport or enter into competitions against other fighters.