UFC 1 was not just a pivotal moment for MMA as a sport but for the martial arts world as a whole. The masses finally got to see the techniques and arts from the movies in action. It’s safe to say that despite a few small successes, traditional martial arts like Karate, Kung Fu and good old Ninjutsu were exposed to be a lot less effective than we had once thought. Suddenly the Eastern mysticism that surrounded martial arts was under huge scrutiny.

An Eastern art growing quietly into a superstar however, was Muay Thai. A discipline that could be utilised effectively in both K-1 kickboxing and MMA. With that in mind, many eager students travelled to Thailand to learn these new skills and it wasn’t long before Muay Thai became one of the most practised arts in the world. With its deadly knees, elbows and stifling clinch techniques, it bridged the gap between the established combat sports giants and MMA, whilst still clinging to its traditional roots.

Until now!

I first saw Muay Thai in 4oz Gloves when watching John Wayne Parr’s Caged Muay Thai promotion. Parr claimed to be obsessed with the UFC and wanted to fight in a cage, throwing the MMA style 4oz Gloves into the mix was another way for him to up the ante and excite the Australian crowd. Something he definitely did, hopping into the cage on more than one occasion to do battle with game opponents, including one of the UFC’s more exciting prospects, Brad Riddell.

Although you definitely won’t see MMA Gloves or gear of any kind in the hallowed Lumpinee or Raja damnern stadiums in Bangkok, national promotions like MX Muay Xtreme have been putting on these MMA hybrid shows for over 5 years now. The biggest, most influential convert and proponent of 4oz gloves in Muay Thai however, are the Asian MMA giants ONE Championship.

Although a successful and established promotion, most MMA fans in the west had their eyes opened to ONE when they traded Ben Askren for Demetrius ‘Mighty Mouse’ Johnson, in one of the more bizarre moments of modern MMA history. Business is booming for ONE with their stance on more responsible weight cuts and combining Kickboxing, Muay Thai and MMA on the same cards, gaining them fans worldwide. Not only have they successfully implemented 4oz gloves into a premier promotion, but they have managed to attract some of the most exciting and celebrated Muay Thai talent to their door (Including John Wayne Parr himself).

But what do MMA Gloves bring to Muay Thai?

Smaller gloves definitely add excitement to any striking art, but it’s more than just the gloves that Muay Thai benefits from. For example, most Thai fights start off extremely slowly due to the betting culture in the big stadiums. Not to mention, traditional Thai fights are 5 rounds but many of the new promotions lowered that to 3, forcing a fast start and pushing the pace to the final bell.

Another benefit is the dexterity that 4oz MMA Gloves give the fighter’s hands, allowing them to work the clinch in new and innovative ways. What the small gloves don’t bring however, is more protection. The classic high guard that most Thai athletes default back to, provides less protection when the MMA Gloves are in play. Leading to more than one Muay Thai legend getting caught and dropped by shots that their 8-10oz gloves would have safely protected them from, forcing these elite combatants to change their tactics despite having established careers in the sport.

The 4oz gloves don’t protect the hands nearly as well either, so it’s hard to justify hitting anything other than light pads in them. Most of the Muay Thai fighters who take on the challenge of fighting in MMA Gloves, train in bigger Gloves for hitting the bag or sparring. This is something to consider if you are thinking of trying out the sport after being inspired by the exciting new ruleset. Thankfully most good MMA and Boxing gear stores like ROOMAIF will be able to set you up with either style of Glove so you can get a feel for both, whilst keeping your hands safe from injury.

Critics may argue that the new equipment and rule changes will cause the striking arts to lose their identity, but evolution has always been part of martial arts. Look back a little over a hundred years and you’d find Thai boxers with hands wrapped in hemp rope, while western pugilists wore no Gloves at all. Look back a mere 25 years and you’ll see UFC 1, an open-weight, no holds barred tournament won by a skinny man in white pyjamas.

How times have changed.




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  • peter

    it’s also a famous brand in germany