Can You Spar With MMA Gloves? – Risks & Advantages Explained

You can spar with MMA gloves and most MMA fighters will occasionally use them for sparring when preparing for a fight. This is because it gives them the most realistic sparring where they can grapple as well. It also allows them to get accustomed to the glove size they’d be using for the fight. However, sparring with smaller gloves does come with its risks, and therefore its necessary to take the appropriate precautions to minimize the chances of injury.

When Should You Spar With MMA Gloves

Anyone who’s ever sparred with 4-ounce gloves knows that its much easier to feel the knuckles through the glove than a traditional boxing glove. This means that getting punched hurts more and will leave more visible bruises and cuts. This is due to the padding structure and the surface area that connects on impact.

This doesn’t mean that sparring with MMA gloves will cause more brain damage. Many people would argue that hard sparring with boxing gloves is worse for the brain as it allows you to hit harder without hurting your hands. However, the main issue when sparring with MMA gloves is the risk of bruising, cuts, and pain.

This means that sparring the MMA gloves only makes sense under specific circumstances. If you’re an MMA fighter and you’re training for an upcoming bout, then it does make sense to do some sparring with the gloves that you’ll be using when you fight. But even in this instance, its worth wearing a good head guard that will minimize the chances of getting badly cut or bruised. This is a very serious issue in combat sports as a bad cut can potentially lead to a fight being cancelled. It is also unnecessary and can cause scar tissue that will open up easily during fights.

Outside of this case, you’d want to spar lightly when using MMA gloves as they also allow you to grapple. This means you can experience the full dynamics of an MMA bout but its important to be controlled and careful when using these gloves.

Advantages Of Using MMA Gloves

I think there are two main advantages of using MMA gloves. Firstly, they allow for genuine MMA sparring with grappling included. Secondly, they reward accuracy and get you accustomed to fighting in small gloves. However, the latter only truly applies to professional fighters.

Being able to grapple is massively important for genuine MMA sparring. You can use boxing gloves but then it effectively limits you to kickboxing. The fingerless gloves were specifically designed to allow the wearer to both punch and hold effectively. Without these gloves, there isn’t a way to properly train MMA. If you’re an MMA fighter or someone who is training in MMA, you should sometimes spar lightly with MMA gloves for this specific reason. Sparring without every threat being viable defeats the purpose of Mixed Martial Arts.

Getting used to the size of the gloves is also integral for fighters that compete. When using boxing gloves for sparring, you can get away with certain blocks and moves that you wouldn’t be able to do in actual competition which can lead to bad habits. As we mentioned earlier, sparring with MMA gloves also rewards accuracy and will get you comfortable with where and how you need to throw a shot.

Boxing vs MMA Gloves For Sparring

If you’re an MMA fighter whose training objective is to closely simulate Mixed Martial Arts competition. Then MMA gloves are the obvious choice for sparring. Kickboxers and boxers, however, don’t benefit from ever using MMA gloves. For them, the best option is soft and large boxing gloves.

Even if you’re an MMA fighter, for a lot of your harder sparring, you’ll want to use boxing gloves. While the MMA gloves offer an insight into full competition, the boxing gloves are better for hard sparring when you’re just practicing striking. The larger gloves hurt less to get hit with. On top of this, they are less likely to cause bruising and cuts. This means that sparring will be safer and more productive.

Should Boxers Spar With MMA Gloves

There isn’t any reason for boxers to spar with MMA gloves. Boxers won’t even spar with competition-style boxing gloves and there are typically 8-10 ounces. From a boxing perspective, these gloves are considered small. 16-ounce gloves are typically used for boxing sparring so using 4-ounce MMA gloves sounds insane and its very unlikely that any boxing gym would let you spar with MMA gloves.

There also isn’t any inherent value when boxing with MMA gloves. Yes, your punches may be marginally faster and slip through some smaller cracks but there is a huge defensive trade-off that simply isn’t worth it. In boxing, the MMA gloves would make it harder to block punches and make you a less effective boxer.

Some people may argue that smaller gloves with less wrist support are good for boxers since they promote better punching technique. However, this isn’t that relevant for sparring. You could make the argument for boxers to use MMA gloves for heavy bag work as it will force them to keep their wrists inline which reduces the risk of injury and increases power through proper form. However, bag mitts already exist and are better suited to the job. Frankly, there isn’t a space for the fingerless MMA gloves in boxing.


In conclusion, sparring with MMA gloves presents both advantages and risks, particularly for those training for mixed martial arts competitions. While these gloves offer a more authentic experience by incorporating grappling and rewarding accuracy, they also increase the likelihood of bruising, cuts, and pain during training sessions.

For MMA fighters preparing for a bout, occasional sparring with MMA gloves can be beneficial, provided precautions are taken to minimize the risk of injury, such as wearing appropriate headgear. However, for boxers and kickboxers, the use of softer, larger gloves is more suitable for sparring purposes, as it ensures safer and more productive training sessions.

Ultimately, the decision to spar with MMA gloves should be guided by the specific goals and training objectives of the individual athlete, considering both the benefits and drawbacks associated with their use.

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