Best MMA Head Gear Reviews: The Ultimate Protection for Your Most Valuable Asset

Best MMA Head Gear Reviews

Introduction

MMA has become more popular than almost any other full contact sport for amateurs. Just like any other martial arts discipline, when training it’s always a great idea to wear the right protective gear. This can include MMA style gloves, a strong and flexible cup, a mouth guard, and of course proper headgear.

The best MMA head gear reviews always point to a few great features that any MMA head gear should have, but knowing exactly how each feature works is important as well. Let’s take a look at what everyone should look for in MMA headgear as well as some really great models that will protect your noggin while you train.

Why You Need Headgear

It should go without saying that protecting your head is imperative in any sport where there is full contact. While official MMA bouts tend to go without protective gear, when you train you should always wear something to protect your head. Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) isn’t just a condition for football players; too many hits to the head can quickly end your career.

When sparring, headgear should not be used as an excuse to hit your opponent harder, as it can only do so much. Also, some dojos treat headgear usage as a sign of weakness; don’t believe this, it’s here to protect you and not wearing it during sparring can actually hinder your training. This is because, without it, you tend to be more tentative with your attacks, which can reduce your performance in the ring. 

Types to Look Out For

  • Mexican: Mexican style headgear offers a ton of protection around the face and the cheeks. You’ll notice two very sizeable cheek guards that will prevent your face from taking excessive damage from attacks. While these won’t necessarily fully blunt the full force of a roundhouse kick in MMA, they will keep your head and face from being extensively bruised. Mexican headgear does have one weakness; it doesn’t protect the chin very well.
  • Cage Style: This style forgoes the padded cheek protection of a Mexican style piece of headgear and utilizes a full facial cage. If you’re looking to completely preclude the chance of cuts, bruising, or contusions on your face, this style may be for you, though some consider this type a bit extreme.
  • Full Face: Full face MMA headgear provides a lot of protection for the entire head. It has the cheek protection inherent in Mexican style headgear, but it also provides chin protection as well. This is perfect for MMA because many sparring partners use knees in their repertoire; this type of face protection will help keep your bell from being rung.
  • Facesavers: Facesavers look like you have two cushioned bars on your face. One encircles your forehead and temples and the other goes across the mouth and cheeks. Simply put, this is the most protection that you can get for your face without putting it in a cage. Their chief drawback is that your face will definitely feel very constricted and hot when wearing them.

Additional Considerations

Weight and Visibility

The more protected the head, the more padding you’ll need. Additional padding will automatically cause your headgear to become heavier, which will result in more head fatigue as you spar. Conversely, reducing the amount of padding for a lower weight means that you’ll also sacrifice protection for comfortability. Generally speaking, this isn’t a sacrifice you should make; sparring and sweating go hand in hand, so a minor amount of discomfort is worth it versus being injured.

Unfortunately, with more protective headgear you will also sacrifice a little bit of peripheral acuity. The large padded sections on Mexican, Full Face, and Facesaver types can cause a bit of a reduction in your peripheral vision, but once again this sacrifice is well worth it.

Padding

Boxer Wearing Headgear

The level of padding that you want in your headgear is something that you’ll have to decide on personally. Different brands will have differing padding levels, and padding can also vary by the type of headgear, so it will take a bit of shopping around and try-ons before you settle on a piece of MMA headgear that’ll fit your training best.

Fit

This is one of the most important things that you should heavily consider when purchasing a new set of MMA headgear. Simply put, you don’t want to have your headgear to be too loose; this will cause it to shift and move as you spar, which will reduce your visual acuity greatly. Since every head is shaped differently, it may take a bit of research to find the right fit for your head. Things like the type of fastener also have great influence on fit and comfort in MMA headgear.

Material

The material composition of your headgear can greatly affect how it feels when you are sparring in it. Some are made of vinyl with a PVC coating, and these can take a few hits, but they tend to pool sweat a bit. Leather headgear is one of the most traditional types, but after extensive impacts and aging, leather can crack a bit, and that can be uncomfortable on your face.

Here's a great guide on how to select the right headgear for your head.

Best MMA Head Gear Reviews

Ringside Ultra Light Sparring Headgear

Ringside Ultra Light Sparring Headgear

This is the perfect MMA headgear for working on your head movement. It’s “Ultra Light” titling really represents the overall weight of this gear; it’ll feel like your head is completely unencumbered. In total, the headgear only weighs about ten ounces. For comparison’s sake, this is lighter than 90 percent of the models of MMA headgear currently on the market.

This Mexican-style product still provides excellent protection for your face. It includes cheek protection, a flex-style paneling system that allows the sides to expand or contract according to head size, and a quick-tie lacing system in the rear. The ear protection has more than adequate padding, so if you get hit with a spinning side kick during a sparring session, you won’t have to worry about getting a cauliflower ear. Internally, the headgear uses a polyester mesh liner that feels comfortable on the face; especially when you are sweating a lot during a sparring session.

Things We Liked

  • This is such a lightweight piece of headgear; you’ll barely notice that your head is covered. This is great, but when you get hit, you’ll appreciate the protection.
  • The coverage is also pretty good for MMA; you’ll avoid the cuts and contusions that can occur when training with this headgear’s cheek guards and ear padding.
  • The lace system is an excellent way to tie up your headgear; it’s secure and comfortable feeling.

Things We Didn't Like

  • This headgear isn’t made of actual leather. The company used a synthetic leather to cut down on weight. It looks good but may be a con for traditionalists. 
  • There’s no chin protection, so if your sparring partner likes to knee and uppercut a lot, then this might not be best for your training.

Venum Challenger 2.0 Headgear

Venum Challenger 2.0 Headgear

This is a great-looking piece of headgear. The Venum Challenger, which is a full-face piece of headgear has a lot of great features for MMA and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu enthusiasts. Firstly, it incorporates a great dual strap system that really secures the headgear to your head. Since this system uses large Velcro patches, the headgear is pretty much one-size-fits-all.

Padding on this helmet is more than sufficient to blunt any sparring strikes. There is protection on your chin, your cheeks, the ears, and of course, across the forehead. The amount of protection varies a bit, and for the most part, you’ll find the most padding located around the face and ear sections. In addition to all this, Venum has even included tiger striping so that you’ll look fiercer when you spar. It even comes in four cool-looking color tones that range from black and white to neon yellow and black.

Things We Liked

  • You get full face protection with this headgear; Venum was sure to protect the chin, which is perfect for MMA sparring sessions.
  • The Velcro strapping system is very secure feeling, though you may have to have some help getting it on.
  • The chin strap does a great job at blunting strikes from below.

Things We Didn't Like

  • This headgear is a little heavy; you won’t be able to work on your dodging with the extra weight.
  • The helmet tends to feel a bit loose around the chin since this product doesn’t have a chinstrap; at the same time, this floating style chin protection can also reduce impact significantly.

TITLE Gel World Full-Face Training Headgear

TITLE Gel World Full-Face Training Headgear

Title’s gel training headgear uses a patented gel technology that allows this product to provide great protection without costing a ton of cash. It’s a full-face type, so it’s perfect for doing long MMA-style sparring sessions because it protects your head from roundhouses and knees. Simply put, the cheeks and chin on this headgear are fairly massive, so you’ll know that you can avoid the cutting and bruising that comes with unprotected sparring.

The ear holes don’t have the protective strap across the center, but your ears are very recessed, so you shouldn’t have to much of a problem in that regard. The headgear is pretty true to size, but isn’t one-size-fits-all, so you’ll have to find the right size for your noggin. It’s also very easy to put on, you simply close the large Velcro strap in the back of the product and you’re ready to spar.

Things We Liked

  • This thing tends to fit comfortably when you select the right size. There is no loose feeling around the well-padded chin area, which is perfect for sparring against a well-trained opponent.
  • Chin and cheek protection is also top of the line, you won’t feel a lot of the impact from repeated blows in these areas.

Things We Didn't Like

  • The nose protection on this product is a bit wanting. If you’re not careful, you can definitely get a bloody nose wearing this.
  • This headgear also slips a bit when you’re sweaty.

Piranha Gear Leather head guard w/ chin and cheek padding

Piranha Gear Leather head guard w/ chin and cheek padding

Leather is almost always preferable when you’re selecting headgear, and this Piranha product is all leather, which means that it will be breathable during long sparring sessions. The top of this gear is very adjustable, so with accurate fine-tuning, you’ll be able to get a great fit, so that those long sessions won’t be so draining. It’s a slightly heavier product, so you may have to compensate a bit as you train.

As another full-face model, you’ll also have some great protection as this headgear covers your chin and cheeks excellently. The padding in these areas is more than adequate for thorough protection.

Things We Liked

  • The Velcro system that binds this headgear together is remarkably secure.
  • It also secures to the top of your head by way of laces, this locks in the headgear more securely.
  • This product sports a leather construction that feels great and breathable.

Things We Didn't Like

  • Padding in some areas, like around the ears, is a little thinner.
  • Your speed might be hindered a bit by the extra weight.

Everlast Everfresh Head Gear

Everlast Everfresh Head Gear

Everlast is one of the icons of the boxing/MMA world, and you can always expect quality construction from their products. This headgear is designed to provide optimum protection with a light form factor. Like our first entry, this headgear is a Mexican-style product that has a goodly amount of cheek protection but not a lot of chin coverage. Fortunately, it’s very secure with its adjustable chinstrap and easy to put on back straps. Everlast made this out of their patented Everhide material, which feels great and provides excellent breathability.

Things We Liked

  • This product fits very securely. It won’t move once strapped.
  • It’s also very variable when it comes to size. It’ll fit most head types.
  • It also comes in red, which is a color that Everlast has become known for over the years.

Things We Didn't Like

  • There is no chin protection.
  • This headgear reduces your peripheral vision a bit.

Conclusion

Out of all best MMA head gear reviews of the products, we like Venum product the most. It provides excellent protection, has a snazzy design, and is also very comfortable to wear. As a full face product, it simply outperforms all of the other products that we’ve listed here, especially around the chin area. You can take numerous strikes in this zone without injury with the Venum. In any situation, all of these products are great for sparring and face protection, so pick the one that you like best for your MMA training sessions.