two mma fighters fight with each other

Do MMA Fighters Wear Cups?

A cup is worn in many very popular sports. In most sports, it’s unsportsmanlike to intentionally target the groin area but accidents are common. In modern MMA groin strikes are illegal, so today I will explain if MMA fighters wear cups.

As a general rule, MMA fighters wear cups. Groin strikes are illegal in MMA matches according to the official UFC rules. However, accidents do happen, therefore, a cup is worn in virtually all MMA competitions, especially in the most well-known organizations like UFC and Bellator.

There are a range of different cups available for sports such as MMA, and martial arts such as jiu-jitsu, boxing, and kickboxing. Below, I will explain if fighters must wear a cup because of the rules.

Are Cups Required in the UFC and MMA?

The UFC is the most well-known and biggest MMA organization. In MMA fights groin strikes occur accidentally from time to time, and various positions can put a lot of pressure on the groin. But, I wanted to know if cups are mandatory in the UFC and MMA, here’s whether MMA fighters MUST wear a cup when competing.

In general, wearing a cup is required in the UFC. The rules about what fighters must do are set forth by the Athletic Commission in each State in the USA. As well as, the equivalent for international events. In the official rules of most of these organizations, a cup is mandatory.

Here’s a quote from the official rules of the USA Mixed Martial Arts International Federation. 

“1) Groin: All male contestants shall provide and wear a foul-proof groin protector, which shall be subject to examination and approval by the UMMAF. 


2) Chest: All female contestants shall be given the choice to wear either a chest and /or groin protector during competition. The chest protector shall be subject to examination and approval by the UMMAF”

Las Vegas, Nevada is a very popular place where the biggest UFC events are held. Where a UFC or MMA bout is held determines what governing body administers the rules. 

For example, if an event is held in Texas, the rules that will need to be followed are those of the Texas State Athletic Commission. And if an MMA bout is held in Las Vegas, the event will need to follow the regulations of the Nevada State Athletic Commission. According to the official website of the Nevada State Athletic Commission.

Rules relating to NAC 467.592 – Proper attire and equipment of unarmed combatants.

“(c) If the unarmed combatant is male and competing in a contest or exhibition of mixed martial arts or kickboxing, Muay Thai, Thai boxing or another variation of kickboxing, groin protection.” (source)

Interestingly, fighters can be given a cup by the UFC, especially if a fighter forgets theirs. Or, they can bring their own and use it. If you’ve watched a UFC walkout closely you might notice that before a fighter gets into the cage a representative of the UFC:

  • Applies vaseline to the face of the fighter
  • Inspects the fingernails and gloves of the fighter
  • Asks the fighter to show their mouthguard
  • Asks the fighter to prove they’re wearing a cup

When they ask the fighter to prove they’re wearing a cup the fighter will just tap on their groin to show that they’re wearing a protective cup. After that, they’re permitted to enter the ring.

As you may know, Joe Rogan is a very famous UFC commentator. Here’s a recent video where he talks with former UFC titleholder, and highly ranked UFC fighter Justin Gaethje about using cups in sparring and in MMA fights:

What Kind of Cups Do UFC Fighters Wear

There are a few different kinds of cups that are used in each sport. For example, some are made completely of very hard plastic with padding around the sides, whereas, others are made of metal. UFC and MMA bouts have unique movements and positions compared to other sports, so this is what kind of cup UFC fighters wear.

Generally, UFC fighters wear a Diamond cup, a steel cup, or a Thai cup. There is no official requirement for the type of cup a UFC fighter has to wear, and it’s up to each fighter’s personal preference.  

Joe Rogan argues that a Thai cup that is used in Muay Thai kickboxing is so strong that if a fighter accidentally hits it they can break their hand or foot. It’s also known, that the strings used to tie a Thai cup on are very uncomfortable. The string goes up the butt crack like a g-string/thong underwear.

However, a generic steel cup is just a piece of metal shaped in a way that it covers the groin area. It can be held in place by special underwear that has a pouch for it. A Diamond cup is recommended by Joe Rogan, but it’s unclear if it’s technically the best or if Joe Rogan recommends it because he is sponsored by them. But, in my opinion, Joe Rogan is honest and wouldn’t recommend something if it wasn’t good. There have been multiple video reviews testing how well a Diamond MMA cup protects the groin. Overall, it was found that it’s very effective at reducing the pain caused by a groin shot.

What Do MMA Fighters Wear To Protect Their Groin

Each sport is unique and has different movements that can affect what equipment and clothing need to be worn. There is the potential for the groin to be accidentally hit or grabbed in MMA. So, here’s a summary of what MMA fighters wear to protect their groin.

Overall, MMA fighters wear a cup to protect their groin. A cup is mandatory according to the rules put out by the governing bodies who regulate combat sports. But, there are a few different cups that MMA fighters can wear, they are a Thai cup, a steel cup, and a Diamond cup. 

There is no strict cup that MMA fighters have to wear, and MMA fighters can bring their own cup, or if they forget the MMA organization will typically give them one to use.

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