When MMA first started the fighters wore whatever was most comfortable for them. That included gis for the the Jiu-Jitsu fighers and Judo fighters, wrestling singlets, boxing shorts, kickboxing shorts, etc.
There was a competition called Vale Tudo in Japan meaning everything goes. There were some rules but one of the coolest things that came from that competition are the Vale Tudo style shorts. These shorts were made famous by Rickson Gracie.
Fast-forward to the UFC in the 2000’s and you had many fighters wearing board shorts. They were basically board shorts that surfers wear. Board Shorts style MMA Shorts still are very popular but they made some adjustments.
There are now slits in the shorts and are shorter. They don’t go below or at the knees anymore. This allows the fighters to be able to kick. Khabib Nurmagamedov wears these style shorts especially because his still is wrestling and ground and pound.
The Vale Tudo shorts still remain the most popular shorts in the UFC and that’s partly because Georges St. Pierre and Anderson Silva wore them. Silva wore longer shorts and GSP had them short.
Now there are a few more styles of MMA shorts. There are hybrid shorts which are a hybrid between the board shorts and the vale tudo shorts. There are also compression shorts.
Other popular styles worn in Combat Sports are rash guard for Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. They wear these instead of a gi. Muay Thai shorts are also very popular in the smaller MMA leagues and in Kickboxing.
Top MMA Short Manufacturers
There are many companies that make shorts for combat sports, some new and some legendary. The first company that gained worldwide recognition was Bad Boy. They made the best value tudo shorts. An iconic fighter that wore these is Mauricio Shogun Rua. They still make shorts but aren’t as popular anymore.
The giants in this space are Venum, RDX Sports, Hayabusa, and Sanabul. Venum just landed the new deal with UFC and is replacing Reebok as the UFC’s Official apparel sponsor. Sanabul makes the best vale tudo shorts today for sure and that was worn a lot by Fedor Emilianenko.
The best board shorts are made by Elite Sports and Anthem Athletics. Anthem makes the best Muay Thai Shorts.
New Shiny Object
Engage Industries is the newest company making a lot of noise in the mma shorts industry. They are based out of Australia and are making the best looking shorts out there.
They make vale tudo compression style, hybrid shorts, and board shorts. What’s really helped them a lot is their partnership with Israel Adesanya. Also known as the Last Stylebender, Adesanya is the UFC Middleweight Champion as of September 2020.
He won the interim Middleweight UFC Championship belt against Kelvin Gastelum in 2019. Then he beat Robert Whittaker for the undisputed UFC belt in Whittaker’s home country, Australia. Adesanya is from New Zealand and that’s partly how we got in with Engage. 57,000 people attended that fight. It was the biggest crowd in UFC history.
A lot of people wear mma shorts when they workout and don’t even necessarily train martial arts. They’re really cool looking and they’re extremely comfortable to wear when exercising.
They’re so comfortable because they were designed for fighters that have to move in all kinds of speeds and angles so no matter what type of training you do, the hybrid shorts are perfect.
You can’t go wrong with any of the shorts from the companies we covered in this article. Try out a pair and let us know what you think!