THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO CHOOSING THE BEST MMA SHORTS
Choosing the best fight shorts is important. If you’re a beginner you will quickly see there is a huge difference between shorts for fighting (or training) and shorts for other fitness activities. MMA Shorts have a ton of options that all serve a purpose. After reading this article you’ll be able to choose the right tool for the job.
We’ll break down the process of choosing the best fight shorts whether you’re a muay thai boxer, grappler, or MMA fighter.
Choosing the right shorts comes down to your preferences and knowledge of:
- Sport (or use)
- Your Personality
The experts at Combat Corner have come together to bring you this guide on choosing the best shorts. Let’s dive in!
Sport (or use)
The first thing you must consider when choosing the proper fight shorts is what activity you’ll be participating in.
Muay Thai Boxing Shorts
Traditional muay thai shorts allow you to move freely and kick higher. Many that are new to the sport find muay thai shorts might take a little getting used to. The look and feel of these shorts is unlike any other, due to the exaggerated flair and angles. However, once you train muay thai in a pair of legit muay thai shorts, you’ll understand the design. Features such as extra wide cuts in the leg allow for high kicks, knee strikes and checking kicks with ease.
Getting the size right for us westerners can be rough at first. Pay attention to details and look for waist measurements on a size chart. Shop for waist measurement and realize that each manufacturer may vary their sizes (such as M, L, XL) a little differently.
Muay Thai shorts are typically made from either satin or nylon. Your higher end muay thai shorts will typically be made of the lighter weight, more durable satin.
For those that are cross training, or simply aren’t down with the style of traditional muay thai there are alternatives. ‘Hybrid’ style shorts or above-the-thigh fight shorts will maintain the freedom of movement without the traditional muay thai look.
No-GI BJJ/Grappling Shorts
If you’re grappling in anything loose it won’t take long for you to realize any excess material puts you at a disadvantage. Also, loose fitting shorts can result in rashes and even reduction in flexibility. A pair of shorts that is even a little bit restricting can be the difference between applying the right submission or tapping out. For this reason grappling shorts are typically made from highly flexible material. To find the right fight shorts that meet your needs here it’s best to look for either vale tudo shorts or BJJ specific board shorts. Compression, above-the-thigh (short) shorts like the Combat Corner BOSS shorts can work well for grappling, also.
Note: if you’re looking for waist to ankle protection, check out Grappling Spats.
Training MMA requires a pair of shorts as versatile as your training plan. Everything mentioned above must be considered since any given day you might be striking, throwing high kicks and grappling. It’s for this reason many of us have more than just a favorite pair of MMA fight shorts. As the sport, technology and styles have progressed, so have the selection of what’s considered a pair of MMA shorts. Back in the day the term ‘MMA Shorts’ basically meant a pair of durable, loose fitting board shorts. Proving this point further is the fact that many people are now referring to that style as ‘traditional MMA shorts’.
What Are The Best MMA Shorts?
Choosing the best pair of MMA shorts comes down to a few things:
- Training vs competition – A pair of shorts you train in every day is going to take more of a beating vs the shorts you compete in.
- Loose vs compression – Do you spend most of your time grappling or are you typically on your feet? Looser fitting MMA shorts will still allow for a full range of motion while providing superior ventilation vs compression MMA shorts. On the other hand, compression shorts can provide assistance with muscle recovery, an unmatched lightweight feeling and are best for BJJ.
- Length – The classic (or traditional) MMA shorts have a look many people, especially beginners feel more comfortable in. ‘Comfortable’ in this context meaning my skinny, glacier-white thighs won’t be on display. They’re longer and usually a bit looser fitting. However, many gyms are seeing MMA fighters training in short shorts.
Notice, we specified fit and didn’t use the word comfort. Many times the right fight shorts won’t be your first choice to lounge in. That’s because, like any MMA Gear, fight shorts must be considered a piece of essential equipment. We’ve broken down fit into 3 key components:
No matter the discipline, you’ll likely find shorts available in multiple length options. From traditional MMA shorts to short-shorts. The length you choose will be affected by your sport, your fighting style and preference. Longer MMA board shorts don’t necessarily mean restricted movement, if they’re made properly.
Compression or Traditional
Compression fight shorts are very lightweight and comfortable. The materials used are non-restrictive and very flexible. Compression shorts also help with muscle recovery and are superior for BJJ. Traditional fight shorts are looser fitting but typically have a drawstring to adjust the waistband tightness. You’ll find these shorts to have more air-flow and when made with high quality materials, they’re extremely versatile for any sport.
The waistband on MMA shorts is often overlooked. However, it’s an extremely important feature. Most fight shorts will come with one of three waistbands:
- ‘Fixed’ or solid waistband
- Elastic waistband
- A ‘hybrid’ waistband combining a fixed front/rear with elastic zones on the sides
Traditional MMA shorts are typically manufactured from a combination of spandex & polyester composite material. Muay thai shorts, on the other hand, are made from satin or nylon. The materials used are critical to the form and function of the shorts. Polyester is much more hydrophobic than the spandex found in lycra, which means it won’t absorb as much sweat and will dry faster. You can also look for shorts with specific fabrics in key areas to strike a balance between durability and flexibility. If this is of interest to you, look for fighting shorts that have stretch panels in the crotch and hip areas.
As you’ve already read, there are a ton of features mentioned throughout this article. This area is to highlight a few that haven’t come up, but we’ve found to be extremely important.
The closure on MMA shorts not only keep your shorts on, but can also cause discomfort or even damage to your shorts if not designed properly. Typically most MMA shorts will have a drawstring and Velcro hook and loop closure, with Vale Tudo, muay thai and compression shorts having no additional closure system. For MMA shorts, I prefer a closure that flaps over the top of the waistband vs from the side simply because it prevents any exposed Velcro from irritating my skin. There are also big differences in the quality of Velcro. Newer styles feel more like a Command Strip vs the traditional fuzzy/scratchy option. This means there is less of a chance of your scratchy Velcro rubbing on high-end material like Lycra during your training and essentially shredding it.
Side Slits or Panels
Training in any sport, whether BJJ, muay thai or even traditional boxing requires your legs to move freely. No matter what style you choose, you’ll most likely have the option of side slits or panels that offer great freedom of movement. Traditionally, side slits, cut high into the sides of the shorts were needed. However, materials have come a long way and you easily can practice muay thai in the right pair of board shorts if they’re built well.
Simple, right? Just tie a knot and let’s go. Not so fast! Think about your favorite running shoes. Think about all your shoes. Different laces for different purposes. Same with your MMA fighting shorts. Make sure that drawstring is durable, and grips well when tied. The last thing you want is a waistband that breaks or comes untied at the worst moment.
Choosing the best fight shorts simply wouldn’t be complete without considering your personality! No matter what the combination of fit, features etc you choose, there are still plenty of ways to express yourself and find a paid of fight shorts that showcase your style. Are you going to choose the flashy, bright color scheme or the under-the-radar matte black? There are many combinations of the features above that can do the job and be what you want to fight in.