MMA fighters wear regulated gloves to protect their hands during a fight. These gloves are very tight and thin. The thin nature of MMA gloves often makes spectators wonder if fighters wrap their hands under their gloves or if their hands are bare.
Most MMA fighters wrap their hands. While gloves provide protection for their hands, MMA fighters often seek out more protection with wraps worn under their gloves. By wrapping their hands MMA fighters can reduce the pressure transferred from their gloves to their wrists.
In this article, I’ll discuss why some MMA fighters choose to wrap their hands while others don’t. I’ll also cover the differences between boxer wraps and UFC wraps.
Why Do MMA Fighters Wrap Their Hands?
MMA fighters wrap their hands to give an extra layer of protection during MMA training or competitions. Although this practice is entirely optional, most MMA fighters choose to wrap their hands as MMA wraps are much thinner than traditional hand wraps, so they fit comfortably under their gloves.
MMA gloves are very tight so that fighters can have maximum control over their hands.
Some of the most common reasons fighters wrap their hands include:
- Wraps provide extra protection to a fighter’s greatest weapons.
- MMA gloves can transfer pressure to the wrists, which can lead to injuries if they’re not supported.
Wraps Provide Extra Protection
Hand wraps are worn by MMA fighters for extra protection. While gloves protect hands, wraps take that protection a little bit further.
In MMA, your hands are your main weapons. So, protecting your hands is vital for a long career.
Hand wraps may be thin, but they add another layer of protection for fighters whose hands make money. The wraps can keep a fighter’s hands and wrists tighter so that they are less likely to injure themselves during a fight.
MMA Fighter Hands Are Attack and Defense Weapons
Remember, in MMA: hands are weapons. This means the hands are used many different times throughout a fight, and hands are often using the full force of the fighter to try and inflict as much damage as possible.
Suppose an MMA fighter does not keep their hand and wrist fully straight while punching; they can inflict a lot of damage on themselves. Wrapping their hands and wrists can help keep this from happening.
Hands aren’t only weapons during an MMA fight. They are used as a defense mechanism as well. Hands and arms often block incoming attacks from their opponent.
So, hands are being used consistently throughout a fight for both offense and defense. Having an extra thin layer of protection for your main attack and defense can’t hurt, especially when your career depends on the health of your hands.
MMA Gloves Can Transfer Pressure to the Wrist
While gloves protect knuckles and hands, wraps reinforce that protection and add even more protection to wrists.
MMA gloves absorb pressure from contact, and most of that pressure gets transferred to the wrist. That pressure can cause a fighter’s wrist to give out when punching or blocking, and it can cause injuries if enough pressure comes in.
Wrapping your hands and wrists can ensure that fighters are protected from that transferred pressure.
How Hand Wraps Are Different for MMA Fighters and Boxers
There are many ways hand wraps for MMA and boxing are different, but let’s start with the gloves to give an accurate description.
This difference in weight shows the difference in how they absorb hits.
Boxing Gloves Are Roomier Than MMA Gloves
Boxing gloves are made to be bulkier than MMA gloves, which means that there is a lot of extra room available for hand wraps under them. This gives boxers a lot more freedom when wrapping their hands, while MMA fighters have to make sure their wraps are thin enough.
The reason why boxing gloves are designed this way is to absorb more of the pressure from punches and blocks.
This is a trade-off from MMA gloves, made to fit snugly to protect the alignment of your hands and wrists but don’t absorb much of the pressure from blows.
MMA and Boxing Gloves Have Completely Different Designs
MMA gloves are made to fit on a fighter’s hand straight. That means MMA gloves get tighter when a fighter closes their fist.
This takes up even more space that could be used for a wrap and adds even more pressure to the hands when they contact something.
Boxing gloves are pretty much the opposite. They are bent so that your hand is not straight when they are on. This means that, unlike MMA gloves, boxing gloves have a lot more room available for wrapping the knuckles.
MMA Hand Wrapping vs. Boxing Hand Wrapping
Because of the vast difference between MMA and boxing gloves, the ability to use hand wraps differs drastically between the two sports.
Boxers have so much more room inside their gloves that they can wrap their hands so much thicker than MMA fighters. MMA gloves don’t leave much room between the hand and glove.
For many, this means that MMA gloves replace tape, while boxing gloves are made to use with tape. Though, that is not necessarily always the case.
Why Doesn’t Every MMA Fighter Wrap Their Hands?
Some MMA fighters don’t wrap their hands because MMA gloves are tight and secure enough to do the job. Since fighters aren’t required to wrap their hands, many choose not to wrap their hands at all.
Though some fighters prefer them, wraps aren’t regulated in the sport, and without adequate data on the subject, some fighters choose to fight with gloves alone.
Wraps Aren’t Fully Regulated
First, there are very few regulations requiring wrapped wrists. Some individual states do require fighters to wrap their hands, but most states don’t have any regulations. This allows MMA fighters to have the freedom of choosing what to do with their hands.
Naturally, some have chosen not to bother with hand wraps because they aren’t required.
Lack of Data in the MMA World
There is not a lot of data showing that wrapping under your glove is beneficial to hand health.
MMA is still a relatively new sport, and there aren’t many studies available about the long-term effects of injuries in MMA. The lack of data means that many MMA fighters don’t see a valid reason to wrap their hands.
This may change once MMA fighter health and longevity are further studied, but for now, it is something that can hold a fighter back from hand wraps.
Some Fighters Have a General Dislike for Wraps
Finally, some fighters have voiced their dislike for hand wraps under their gloves. Because gloves are already so tight, some fighters find hand wraps uncomfortable or too tight.
Some fighters suggested that hand wraps create too much of a cushion and don’t allow them to feel their hits connecting. So, while wraps may be safer, some fighters choose not to wear them for various reasons.
Do UFC Fighters Wrap Their Hands?
Most UFC fighters wrap their hands under their gloves for fights to protect their hands and wrists while punching and blocking. Like MMA fighters, hand wraps are optional and need to be kept thin because their gloves are tight.
UFC regulation gloves are not very thick or heavy. So, while they offer some protection, they could be better.
The average MMA glove only weighs 4 ounces (113 grams). So, they aren’t doing a lot of absorbing hits as you might expect. Instead, these gloves only tend to transfer the energy to the fighter’s wrists.
This can cause issues with hands and wrists over time. So, many UFC fighters will wrap their hands to help protect them from impact.
Punching Isn’t the Only Risk for a Fighter’s Hands
Remember that punching isn’t the only danger to a UFC fighter’s hands. Fighters also use their hands for blocking.
So, there is a lot more risk than just punching when it comes to hand health. Wrapping may not do much to help with blocking, but it can help keep a fighter’s hands and wrists from injury while absorbing blows.
In the UFC, fighters are constantly putting their hands and wrists in harm’s way by punching and blocking. Without their hands, UFC fighters would not be able to compete. So, many fighters choose to wear hand wraps to ensure that their hands are protected in every way possible.
While MMA wraps aren’t currently required for fighters, many fighters choose to wear them. Since their main weapon is their hands, MMA fighters are becoming more protective of their hands and wrists’ health by wearing wraps underneath their gloves.
It will be interesting to see if the popularity of wraps leads to more regulations for wearing them under gloves, but for now, we know that they aren’t required everywhere. While some MMA fighters today choose to avoid gloves, hand wraps are still a popular tool in MMA fighting.
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