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Amy Koller
June 26, 2018

What Kind of Gear You Will Need When Joining an MMA Gym

MMA Gym Gear

If you are thinking about joining an MMA gym, you might want to consider the type of MMA training gear you will need. Some of the gear is a must-have before you even show up to the gym, and other gear can be borrowed and returned to your gym, if allowed.

Most of the gear is for your own safety while training. With the correct MMA training gear, you can make your experience much more enjoyable, while minimizing injury. Even as a beginner, it is suggested that you invest in good gear, not the cheaper stuff that could possibly come apart or wear out faster.

Here, we will be exploring some of the top gear, that is a must have at an MMA gym.


The only gear that is used to protect your mouth and teeth, besides your hands, is your mouth guard. If you are going to do any kind of sparring or fighting at all, chances are you ARE going to get hit in the mouth. There are various mouth guards available ranging in quality and price. This protects your mouth, so you may want to consider the best option that fits your needs.

For a beginner, a standard soft mouthpiece that is designed for use with a headgear as in sparring. As a fighter progresses in the gym and starts to learn the clinch and ground fighting, they will want to upgrade to a much better style that is custom designed to allow a fighter to breathe easier as well as talk to their corner between rounds. This is a must-have piece of MMA training gear to show up with as a beginner or a professional.


This is another piece of gear that is quite important, as it is the gear to protect a fighter’s groin area. They come in many shapes and sizes. Most cups are put on underneath your gi or gym shorts similar to a pair of underwear. They are fit with an elastic strap with a removable cup, or you can find a better quality type that is full padded in front, back and sides, and more resembles a helmet. That is the preferred choice among most fighters.

When you try on a cup, you have to consider the impact of it when you are hit there. A strap style cup may have more impact against your legs and gut from the cup being made of hard plastic. A pro competition style cup is all one piece made of soft foam wrapped in vinyl.

Rash Guards

Rash guards are a great piece of MMA training gear to get, especially if your focus is grappling. They come in short or long sleeve, mens and womens sizes, all ranging in comfortability and fit for the fighter. It can be worn as a shirt for no-gi competition or can go under any gi for any situation.

If you are just joining the gym, or if you are on a tight budget, a T-shirt may be worn in its place. However, as you grow in the sport of MMA and become sufficient in grappling it is a very good idea to have a rash guard to minimize against cuts, scrapes, rashes and to keep your body cooler as it wicks away sweat as well.


Gloves are a very important part of your MMA gear attire. What type of glove and what kind of quality you choose is important as well. You will want to consider at least two pairs, if not three. One pair you would want is a standard boxing glove 14-16 oz for bag and pad training. This glove would not be best for sparring though, a softer, lighter glove would need to be used.

You will also need an MMA glove, which has smaller padding and at only 4 oz, this glove is used only for competition. So, if you are a beginner you will probably not need this type of glove until you start looking into competition. Also, if you are just getting started, many gyms will allow you to borrow gloves. That’s the way to go if you are on a budget, but get used to other people’s sweat.

Shin Guards

Most of the shin guards you are going to see will be pretty standard except for a few minor differences. The two most common are of a style that primarily covers the shin only and another that covers the shin and the top of the foot as well.

If you are new to MMA, you will probably not need to worry about purchasing shin guards. They are used as protection, not only for your shin and foot bones, but also as a protective padding for what you are kicking. Many training sessions are done using a live sparring partner and these will reduce injury to both during training.

Ear Guards

Ear guards are worn for a few reasons and also come in various styles. Again, maybe not something a beginner will need to buy right away and could borrow for a while until purchased. Ear guards are used to not only protect your ear from impact and being torn, ripped or scraped, but to minimize cauliflower ear as well.

Cauliflower ear is created from blunt trauma to the ear causing inflammation restricting blood flow to the ear. You can choose between a classic wrestling mat style, or a newer style that has a few more straps around the head and chin for better fit and comfort. These are not to be used in place of headgear for sparring or any other use, but for the mat.


With headgear, there are many choices of style, comfort and intended use for what you will be doing in the gym. You can ask your gyms instructor for the best choice of headgear for you. One type is a full face headgear. The padding is all around the head including wrapping around the face and covering the chin and cheeks.

The other most common headgear is the open face helmet. Padded around the head also, but leaving the chin and face open. This allows for much easier breathing, as the full face can feel restricting. This is a must have if you are to be sparring in semi contact or full contact training for a fight.

As with any piece of safety equipment, there are many types, brands and styles to fit fighters needs and comforts. After a few months in the gym you will have a lot better idea what you will want to purchase vs what you can borrow. Again, you can always ask your instructor for advice on what gear to purchase, but I would suggest reading gear reviews from MMA gear websites to find info on all the gear you will need and want to consider investing in.

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