Do MMA Fighters Wear Cups?


It’s pretty common knowledge that being kicked in the groin is no fun, and in combat sports like MMA, a strike like that could lead to a pretty serious injury. So, what are fighters doing to protect themselves? Are they wearing protective gear like cups, or learning are they learning fancy defensive moves to protect themselves in the gym?

Do MMA Fighters Wear Cups?

Male MMA fighters are required to wear a cup as part of their standard uniform before they enter the ring. Cups provide essential protection to the groin that can prevent serious injury from low strikes during a fight. 

Groin guards, or cups, are designed in a way that protects the groin from the powerful blows fighters deliver during a fight. Read on to find out the best ways MMA fighters can use cups to protect their groin area during a match. 

Are Groin Kicks Legal in MMA?

Groin attacks of any kind are prohibited per the unified rules of mixed martial arts. Though they are considered illegal during an MMA match, even the best-trained athletes have accidents. Therefore officials anticipate that groin kicks are a possibility and require proper protection. 

How Do Cups Protect the Groin?

Cups aren’t just worn during a match but in training too. A strike to the groin is extremely painful and can lead to severe injuries that can take months to heal, require surgery, or even cause permanent damage. 

To be clear, wearing groin protection does not mean you won’t feel pain. A strike to the groin is still a strike, and it’s still going to hurt quite a lot. Cups are made from a special material and are designed to distribute the impact of a strike to prevent serious injuries or permanent damage from occurring. If a groin strike happens during a match, the person is typically given five minutes to recover before continuing the match or ending it, depending on the situation.  

Do Female MMA Fighters Wear Groin Protection?

As a general rule, both male and female MMA fighters must wear shorts, a mouthguard, and open-fingered gloves during the match, but the similarities stop there. 

According to the Association of Boxing Commissions, female MMA fighters are allowed a short-sleeved or sleeveless rash guard and breast protection but are not required to wear groin protection. This is because of a common misconception that men are more vulnerable to groin strikes than women, so an extra layer of protection is required to protect male competitors from severe damage. 

But does that mean women don’t suffer from groin strikes? Not exactly. 

In a UFC strawweight fight in 2017 between Angela Hill and Nina Ansaroff, Hill suffered a below-the-belt kick before the end of the fight. In another fight between two featherweight champions, Holly Holm shot a blatant low blow at her opponent, Germaine De Randamie. 

There is a cluster of pressure points in the groin region in both men and women that can be debilitating and quickly put an end to a match. Not to mention, the pelvic bone is at risk and female reproductive organs in the area. Any below-the-belt blows can be extremely painful and cause just as much damage, so this is something to keep in mind as women enter the ring. 

Groin Protection Available for Women

Though groin protection is not part of the required uniform during matches, many martial arts trainers highly recommend that female fighters wear adequate protection. Female groin guards like this one provide pelvic protection and peace of mind during sparring and training sessions so serious injuries can be prevented. 

What to Look for When Choosing Your MMA Cup

When buying your groin guard, you’ll want to make sure to focus on both protection and comfort. The groin is a vulnerable and sensitive area. Aside from protection, they are other criteria to look out for when shopping for a cup.

Proper fit

A properly sized groin guard is an important factor in getting good groin protection. It should not impede movement or sit too loose. A good fit is a snug fit that isn’t restricting. Generally, sizing for cups goes by the waist, though some adjustments may need to be made depending on your body type. 

Durability

You’ll want to make sure that the material the cup is made from is hard enough to protect you but, again, doesn’t impede movement. Anything too rigid is going to affect comfort and, possibly, your performance.  

Ventilation 

Good airflow is a crucial thing to consider when shopping for your groin guard. Lack of ventilation can cause a buildup of sweat and heat, creating a breeding ground for bacteria. 

Easy to wash

Since we’re on the topic of bacteria, your cup should be cleaned well after every use. If possible, look for a guard with a removable cup for thorough, easy cleaning. You’ll also want to keep in mind to only wash your guard in cold water. Hot water can break down the elasticity of the waistband once it cools, wearing it out prematurely. 

Competition Rules

You know that groin protection is required, but there are also competition rules to be aware of when it comes to which types are allowed. During UFC fights, fighters aren’t allowed to wear cups with extra padding, and they must be made from approved materials. Make sure to check official competition rules and regulations if you plan on entering the ring at any time. 

What is the Best Groin Protection For MMA?

Not all cups are created equally. Since groin guards are imperative for protection (and a required part of the uniform), they are often considered the most important piece of equipment in MMA, so you really should be looking for the best. 

Sifting through the many options available can be frustrating, especially if you aren’t familiar with the features. We’ve narrowed down three of the best groin guards for MMA available to make your search a bit easier. 

Lo Bloo Thai Cup 2.0

This cup from Lo Bloo was designed by Swedish Olympian athletes for athletes to provide non-distracting protection during fights. According to reviews, this cup does a good job staying in place and distributes the force from a low strike well. Because each body is different, the minimalist design might not be the most comfortable for everyone, so keep your personal preference and body type in mind when considering this one. 

RDX MMA Groin Protector

This MMA groin guard from RDX is made with premium quality leather and a steel cup for high resistance to cracks and tears that won’t weigh you down. Most of the reviews talk about a comfortable and low-profile fit that doesn’t budge during movements. The one complaint is that the cup is not removable from the strap, so this one does require a little extra care during the cleaning. 

Diamond MMA Athletic Cup Groin Protector

Thought a bit on the pricier side, this MMA cup and compression shorts system is one of the top-rated groin protectors out there, and reviewers say the price is worth it. This protection system was designed by Stanford University engineers with the approval of doctors and urologists. It is made using military-grade elastics and bulletproof polycarbonate, so you can be sure the cup will offer premium protection without sacrificing comfort.  

Final Thoughts

Just like mouthguards, cups are essential for protection in an MMA fight. They reduce the pain MMA fighters experience from powerful low strikes and can prevent severe and permanent injuries. Though not always comfortable, it is important to make sure you are always wearing some form of groin protection when practicing mixed martial arts, whether you are entering the ring or sparring during training. 

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