Who here has ever used a butter knife to turn a screw?
I have, and while it technically works, it is awkward and has its drawbacks.
There is just nothing like having the right tool for the job.
That’s how I feel about MMA shorts.
Sure gym shorts and regular board shorts might work, but things will be much better with a pair of shorts designed for MMA.
I am going to discuss what makes MMA shorts different from other styles, go over a few features and styles of MMA shorts so you can decide what are the best MMA shorts for you, and finish off with a review of 16 of the best MMA shorts of 2022.
What Features Set MMA Shorts Apart From the Rest?
Flexibility, agility and mobility
Range of motion is king when it comes to MMA.
The best MMA shorts have stretch panels in the groin and gusset area, and at the side of the leg, that allow for kicking and kneeing your opponent. Your legs should not be restricted by your shorts at all.
Most MMA shorts also have a slit on the side to facilitate movement and flexibility.
If you begin grappling in board shorts or basketball shorts you will soon discover that these shorts get in the way and hinder your performance.
It is then you will fully appreciate the value of a good pair of MMA shorts.
Lack of hardware and outside pockets that can injure
MMA shorts are also defines by what they don’t have.
They don’t have:
- Outer pockets that can catch fingers and cause damage while rolling around on the mat.
- Metal D rings, zippers or eye loops that can scratch, cut and gash your opponent.
- Exterior exposed drawstrings that can strike an opponent in the eye.
- Any exposed hardware that can scratch and cut.
A good MMA citizen should aim to submit their opponent with their knees, elbows, fists and feet- not by using shorts with dangerous features.
Designed to stay on
When you are rolling around on the mat, grappling with an opponent, there is a chance that either from the friction of the mat, or the dirty deed of your opponent, your pants may get pulled down.
Don’t believe me?
Watch it happen as Zulzhino’s shorts are pulled down by his opponent. Don’t feel too bad for Zulzhino, he responded to the assault by “accidentally” clocking his opponent in the family jewels.
Which reminds me: Guys-always, always, ALWAYS wear a cup while grappling.
So, the best MMA shorts have both a secure Velcro close and an internal drawstring that keeps your pants secure without risking damage to your opponent.
Some even have special rubber or elastic on the inside for added security.
Which Style Should I Choose? Compression vs. Classic Style MMA Shorts?
If you ask me, both have their benefits, and a strong argument can be made for wearing them together. But I will highlight the benefits of each so you can decide for yourself.
Compression or Vale Tudo style MMA shorts
- Very hard for your opponent to grab on to and pull down.
- Compression increases heat and helps muscles recover.
- Prevents mat burn and inhibit infection from ringworm and staph.
- Connor McGregor wears them.
- Not as sexy as you think.
- Show in detail your man parts.
- Makes your opponents uncomfortable.
Classic (baggy) style MMA shorts
- Light and breathable- good ventilation.
- Better coverage-modesty, don’t show your private area.
- Don’t show your upper legs.
- Looks “normal”.
- Any loose material gives your opponent something to grab.
- Must wear either jock strap or compression shorts/undies to hold a cup.
These are the best MMA shorts:
1. Anthem Athletics HELO-X Vale Tudo Shorts
Anthem Athletics offers one of the most superb combinations of breathability and compression.
- The shorts will remain up while grappling due to internal drawstrings.
- Good for grappling sessions and takedown attempts.
- The model fits right above the knee.
- Superb durability because of multi-panel construction and high-density flat-lock stitching.
- Six designs and two sizes.
- Good for training sessions and competitions.
- Leggings are a great choice for grapplers like Shinya Aoki.
- Unfortunately, there is no cup pocket, so it lacks in groin protection.
- The sizing chart is weird, you must be very careful. Buy a larger model, otherwise, you won’t be able to land high kicks at will.
This is definitively the best MMA compression shorts model because of a drawstring. Your opponent can’t take your shorts off during the fight for sure!
2. Hayabusa Chikara 4
It’s a thicker and more resistant model, but it won’t limit your movement or ability to land high kicks and entertaining spinning kicks to the head.
- Advanced secure system due to elastic strips on the inside and guard lock inner grip.
- Triple stitched model for enhanced durability.
- Five sizes, four designs.
- Reinforced seams.
- Suitable for all kinds of training sessions–grappling, striking, clinching… you name it!
- One of the best shorts for tall guys, too.
- If you lose weight, this model might adjust, but you must change it if you gain a few pounds.
- Mid-to-high price range.
If you prefer covering your thighs during the battle inside the Octagon, then this is the best MMA shorts for you.
3. RVCA VA Sport Grappler Shorts
If you’re interested in cool MMA shorts, this is your new best friend! It is suitable for all kinds of training sessions and competitions.
- Mid-length shorts, very modern cut.
- It dries quickly.
- The shorts might stretch.
- Drawstring closure.
- Not good for guys with big quad muscles like Gilbert Burns or Thiago Santos.
- If you compete at flyweight or bantamweight, you’ll need a good tailor, because the shorts might be too wide.
It’s one of the best grappling shorts for close-range combat and takedown training session.
4. Hayabusa Kickboxing Shorts
It is definitively one of the most comfortable models, and definitively one of the best kickboxing shorts, as there are no bulky Velcro closures. You can land Brazilian kicks and even attempt a cartwheel kick from time to time with style.
- Super-light model, you’ll kick faster.
- Great internal drawstring.
- Superb moving ability, good pick for footwork and clinch experts too.
- It provides nice ventilation for your lower body.
- Good durability.
- Six lovely colors.
- Not recommended for tall and big guys.
If you’re a stand-up expert who likes to change levels over and over, we recommend this model.
5. RDX R7 MMA Fight Shorts
It is one of the best MMA shorts for big guys like Alistair Overeem or Jairzinho Rozenstruik.
- Internal drawstring and a gel panel will keep your shorts up.
- Flexible and comfortable model.
- The model is reinforced in critical areas, so it won’t tear apart easily.
- Resistant model.
- Six different sizes.
- Amazing lower body breathability.
- Size choice is unusual. You will make a mistake if you choose one number up.
If you’re a giant like Stefan Struve or Hong Man Choi, you’ve found your perfect pick!
6. Fuji Baseline Fight Shorts
This is an affordable model, suitable for grappling/BJJ specialists like Haim and Aviv Gozali.
- Ultra-lightweight model, you can quickly roll out of the leg lock attempt.
- Secure fit due to Inside drawstring & Velcro waistband enclosure.
- Very flexible model, known for 360-degree stretch flex panels.
- Eight sizes, suitable for the wide population.
- An ability to adjust even when you lose weight ahead of the competition.
- You might need a pair of spats underneath for the offensive BJJ game and submission off the top/side control/side crucifix.
You can roll, but you can land big kicks too. One of the best grappling shorts for fighters who enjoy working off their back (we bet Royce Gracie would give this model a great grade).
7. Anthem Athletics Resilience
If you’re looking for the king of different designs and sizes, you found it. It will satisfy even the most complicated buyer.
- Tear-resistant, durable model.
- It is very easy to dry.
- Affordable model.
- Secure fit because of two-fold Velcro waistband with drawstring.
- Good crotch protection.
- Velcro closure will not rub or scrape your abdomen.
- Sizing is a bit weird, so please pay attention.
Anthem Athletics is stretchy in the crotch and inside of the thigh which means you can use it for different martial arts. Everyone can find his perfect design!
8. Sanabul Essential Combat Shorts
Sanabul is very cheap. But it is also one of the best pairs of MMA compression shorts with great hook and loop closure.
- Great functionality.
- It will fit great, especially during grappling sessions.
- Superb range of motion.
- Reinforced stitching and seam protection leads to enhanced durability.
- This model will remain firmly on you, even when the opponent pulls your shorts over and over.
- Antimicrobial treatment.
- Very short model, so Sanabul might not be the best pick for fighters who prefer covered thighs.
This is a price/quality ratio king, especially if you’re an elite striker who prefers punches like Nathias Frederick.
9. Elite Sports Black Jack Series
Very cheap model suitable for many martial arts, not just MMA.
- Superb choice of sizes.
- Great range of motion.
- Comfortable MMA shorts.
- Made from lightweight high-quality microfiber fabric.
- Good for BJJ and stand-up sparring training sessions.
- Secure fit.
- The model contains side slits that allow you to move quickly during sweeps, transitions, or triangle choke attempts.
- A great pick for men.
- Sizing chart is weird, be cautious.
This model provides a friction advantage when attempting to force your opponent to tap out, so it can come in handy for submission switch experts like Herbert “The Blaze” Burns or Demian Maia too.
10. Hayabusa Hexagon Fight Shorts
This is one of the best MMA shorts for punching experts like Francis Ngannou.
- Six colors and five sizes. There are big chances of finding your perfect match.
- You can wear them as boxing or MMA shorts (good for bare-knuckle fighting too).
- High-quality product.
- Good range of motion.
- These shorts will remain locked in place during the fight or training.
- Mid-to-high price.
- If you’re a Brazilian kick expert or a long-range kicker like Edson Barboza, you should probably stay away from this model, because you won’t get full mobility of a Muay Thai or kickboxing shorts.
Stand-up artists who prefer to trade shots and fight toe-to-toe inside the pocket will love Hayabusa Hexagon!
11. Roar MMA Shorts
You can call this one a design king. The company must have spent a fortune on unique textures and styles.
- Cheap model.
- This model is made of 100% Micro Fabric stretch Panels and multiple flex panels for enhanced mobility and kicking freedom.
- Reduced shifting because of adjustable strap closure plus an internal drawstring.
- Four sizes.
- The model might be tight on buttocks and thighs, especially if your lower body is very strong, so we recommend you to purchase one size up.
Undoubtedly, one of the best MMA training shorts. Everybody will notice you plus you’ll improve all the aspects of the game.
12. Bad Boy Impact Vale Tudo Shorts
Honestly, Bad Boy Classic reminds me of the good old Pride FC days, and 2000s in the UFC, when the domination of Brazilian fighters started. Soccer kick/foot stomp experts Mauricio Shogun Rua and Wanderlei Silva wore this model. Great pair of MMA compression shorts.
- Four colors, five sizes, plus you can choose between long length and a short length model.
- This model doesn’t limit your kicking performance.
- Made of cotton and polyester.
- It dries swiftly.
- A thick model that protects your sensitive spots during ground and pound game, especially the long length version.
- The shorter cut is perfect for leg day and squats in the gym too.
- The price range depends.
- Short length version might not be the greatest pick for grapplers.
If you’re a fan of the classic UFC era, you’ll love this model for sure! Great quality, old-school design from the original fight brand!
13. Fluory MMA Shorts-MMAF09
Fluory is one of the best MMA training shorts. You may choose between four lovely designs and five sizes.
- Great durability.
- Made of elastic twill fabric for great comfort.
- Internal stash pocket might come in handy during hard training sessions.
- Good closure system. This model remains locked in place.
- Lateral slots for kicking freedom and outstanding flexibility.
- Cheap model.
- Pay attention to the sizing chart, it is kinda different.
This is a multi-functional model, you can use it for strength and conditioning training sessions too. Good investment, no doubt!
14. Shock Doctor Core Compression Short
Shock Doctor is a pair of compression MMA shorts for maximum groin protection. If you’ve previously faced such issues (like Mirko Cro Cop did in the match versus Alistair Overeem and Cheick Kongo), we highly recommend this model.
- The vented bio-shaped design maximizes the protection of critical areas.
- Freedom of movement.
- Fair price range.
- Less sweating during the fight or training session.
- If you purchase this model, you can forget about a vasectomy.
- Great for stand-up sparring sessions.
- It’s not multi-functional. We don’t recommend this model for MMA strength/conditioning sessions (especially leg days).
It is one of the best fight shorts you’ll get. Even if you eat a shin to the nard, you’ll recover quickly.
15. RDX R4 MMA Fight Shorts
RDX MMA is an affordable and durable model, perfectly suitable for Octagon control training sessions.
- Free mobility and ergonomic design.
- Very resistant model due to exclusive T3 stitching.
- Breathable model.
- A big choice of sizes.
- Light and thin model.
- Adjustable and secure fit.
- Not recommended for smaller fighters like Jose “Shorty” Torres.
This is an amazing model for cage training sessions and fighting on the fence.
16. Sanabul Mens Compression Workout Shorts
Grappler’s choice and an amazing price/quality ratio. Japanese submission experts Yuki Nakai and Kazushi Sakuraba would love this model for sure.
- Great pair of compression shorts with amazing flexibility for outstanding fighting off the back.
- Cheap model.
- It’s easy to match your size.
- Great elastic closure.
- Awesome alternative to full-length spats. It stays tight to your body.
- Famous BJJ coach John Danaher likes this model.
- Easy to clean, antimicrobial features.
- Very breathable model.
- Your range of motion is not limited.
- No rub points.
- The stitching between the waistband and the shorts themselves is shoddy.
If you want to put your grappling game to the next level, this model is your perfect ally!
Are you a big tall guy? RDX R7 and Hayabusa Chikara are one of the most perfect choices to make.
Do you want to boost your grappling game? Sanabul Compression Shorts, Anthem Athletics, and RVCA VA Sport Grappler are fantastic picks.
If you’re a kickboxer or a stand-up game specialist, Hayabusa is your match. This investment is worth every penny.
Fighters who plan to buy a good product should try Sanabul out.
Each pair of MMA shorts has its good and bad sides. First, ask yourself what do you intend to do with your product. Would you like to wear it in the competitions, training sessions, grappling tournaments?