Gloves in any kind of combat fighting are both a necessity and also controversial. They protect the fists of the wearer and help prevent facial lacerations that might lead to stoppages. On the other hand, they allow fighters to throw harder punches with their padded fists, doing little to prevent brain injury. How much do UFC gloves weigh? Does UFC glove weight have a bearing on performance?

In this article, we take a look at gloves in the MMA, with a particular focus on UFC glove weight. These gloves typically have between 4 and 6 ounces of padding for protection. They are open-fingered to allow for the grappling manoeuvres necessary for clinch fighting and submissions.

It is the open-fingered nature of the UFC glove that has led to some inadvertent injuries and undesired results. We’ll get to this controversy in a bit.

History of UFC gloves

The UFC made glove wearing mandatory starting in 1997 at UFC 14. However, fighters used them much earlier than that. In UFC1, Art Jimmerson famously appeared with one glove against the legendary Royce Gracie, apparently to improve his striking power. It didn’t help, as Gracie submitted Jimmerson in under 3 minutes in the first round.

UFC gloves
Art Jimmerson rocking one glove vs Royce Gracie (UFC 1)

In UFC 4 (and perhaps learning from Jimmerson’s folly), Melton Bowen fought – with two gloves – against a ninjutsu fighter. Bowen, an accomplished boxer, lost and – like Jimmerson – never fought in the UFC again.

The popularity of gloves surged after street fighter David “Tank” Abbott used a pair of home-made gloves to knock out his first two opponents in UFC 6. While he lost in the final, other fighters took note of how Abbott’s gloves had boosted his striking power. Glove use increased and the UFC eventually made them mandatory.

What types of UFC gloves are there?

  • Competition gloves: Most professionals wear 4 ounce gloves, while amateurs may wear 6 ounces for more protection. UFC rules allow gloves between 4-6 ounces, and even heavier for certain larger-sized gloves. Generally, the ounces refer to the weight of the padding rather than the overall glove.
  • Sparring gloves: There is usually a lot of punching involved during sparring, from working a punching bag to actual sparring with a partner. Both of these require that your knuckles are adequately cushioned from the forces put upon them. As a result, typical UFC glove weight for sparring is around 7 ounces.
  • Grappling gloves: These are used mainly for clinch work or grappling and have less padding than sparring or competition gloves. A fighter can move each finger independently, allowing for more gripping ability.

Controversy around UFC gloves

Regardless of UFC glove weight, the fingerless nature of the gloves have led to increasing incidences of inadvertent eye pokes. These have in some cases ended fights. One of the more infamous incidents was in March 2021 at UFC Vegas 21. Leon Edwards attempted to strike Belal Muhammad with a left jab, but caught Muhammad with a vicious eye poke instead, which ended the fight.

The Edwards-Muhammad result prompted more discussion about UFC glove design. Incidentally, Conor McGregor is promoting his own glove, which has a rounded padding over the fist and a slight natural curve which would keep the fingers curled in a bit tighter to the palm. The McGregor FAST MMA glove weighs around 6 to 8 ounces.

So how much do UFC gloves weigh and does it matter? We trust you’re a little more enlightened. One thing is for sure – this glove controversy is sure to persist for some time to come.

Darren is the editorial director of The AllStar and a retired championship-winning point guard who dropped dimes and broke ankles in recreational leagues across the Asia Pacific. A former APAC markets and banking editor with Bloomberg News, Darren has written about the NBA and UFC. Personal sporting highlight: Being courtside under the backboard (and a little to the left) when Vince Carter did THAT DUNK on Frederic Weis at the Sydney 2000 Olympics.