Do MMA Fighters Wear Cups? Read On To Find Out Why.

Mixed martial arts, MMA, is a physically demanding combat sport involving a wide range of grappling and striking techniques. These fighters subject themselves to rigorous training and extreme conditions to win every challenge in the Octagon.

Although these athletes can use any technique necessary to emerge victorious, specific practices are outlawed, such as biting, eye-gouging, and headbutting.

Despite these protective laws in place, the high-impact characteristics of MMA can lead to excruciatingly painful injuries, especially when hit in the groin area. Here's where cups come in handy.

Read on to find out why MMA fighters wear cups, who should wear one, and why type of cup is allowed for a professional UFC match.

Do MMA Fighters Wear Cups?

Like any other combat sport, MMA fighters wear several protective gear, from mouth guards to gloves. These safety measures are also enforced during training, as accidental strikes are likely to happen.

Before any UFC fight, the referee's bound duty is to ensure the fighters are and can protect themselves at all times. And, of course, that includes wearing mandatory protective gear like cups.

While not every fighter feels comfortable wearing them, it offers the best protection against illegal groin blows, which can cause severe pain even with the added protection. Aside from the painful experience, it can potentially end a fighter's promising career.

This explains why the protective cups are included in the UFC's Athlete Uniform Policy. Failure to adhere to this strict policy results in disqualification or other penalties. However, not every cup is permitted in the Octagon, and women are exempted from this policy.

THREE Key Benefits of Wearing a Protective Cup for MMA Athletes

Do MMA Fighters Wear Cups?

Improve stretching and flexibility

The importance of stretching before a workout, sparring, or competition cannot be overemphasized. Only a few MMA fighters stretch correctly. Getting every essential area of the body warmed up, particularly the groin areas, can be challenging. It's usually ignored or forgotten, which can lead to groin strain during intense sparring sessions.

Luckily, several protective cups with compression shorts are equipped with a 4-way stretch feature to warm up the groin area and improve your flexibility quickly. Consequently, they reduce your chances of hurting your groin region and potentially permanent injuries.

Safeguard the Groin

The primary reason for wearing and using a protective cup is to protect your groin from an accidental strike. Regardless of how good your defense techniques are, there's always a possibility of getting hit in such a sensitive area.

Without this protective gear, these accidental strikes can result in severe injuries that might require surgical procedures and weeks of recovery. Even worse, it might lead to permanent damage, although it rarely happens.

These protective cups come with foam padding to safeguard the groin area and make the experience less painful in the event of an unintentional hit during sparring or a fierce match.

It's advisable to consider using this cup, even during training, as you'll be putting a lot, including your life, at risk.

Less Distraction

MMA is a full-contact sport with lots of grappling and different striking techniques. This protective cup holds the testicles and penis in place while training or fighting to avoid embarrassing and distracting yourself. The last thing you want is everyone laughing anytime you kick.

Groin cups come in various designs and materials, each with benefits and drawbacks. When buying a protective cup, choosing one that offers flexibility without compromising safety is essential.

Type of Male Groin Cups

Protect Cup for MMA

The UFC athlete uniform policy isn't only strict about wearing cups during competitions but also very specific on the type of protective groin cups. Therefore, buying one that's in line with the strict UFC guidelines is essential. This means no metal or plastic components or extra padding.

Nonetheless, choosing based on comfort, utility, and durability is paramount. With that in mind, check out the three types of groin cups for utmost protection.

Compression Shorts

One of the main distinctive features of compression shorts is their close resemblance to casual shorts. They are easy to wear and adjust for a more comfortable protective experience.

They are also suitable for stretching the groin region before intense training or competition. As such, they can significantly improve your performance.

Remember that compression shorts are form-fitting, which means purchasing the wrong size can hinder your movement and, eventually, your performance.


Jockstraps are more traditional options made with a unique combination of a drawstring and elastic material. The drawstring makes it easier to adjust for a more comfortable and secure fit. At the same time, the elastic helps keep the male genitalia safe in place through physical activity.

More importantly, you should wear the jockstrap during training as it can be awkward for the first time due to its built-in hard cup designed to safeguard the male genitalia. Getting acclimated to this awkwardness will take a while. Therefore you should wear them before participating in any full-contact activities.

Muay Thai Style Cups

This athletic cup is designed to meet the extremities of the Muay Thai sport. It's similar to the Jockstraps, but it offers more flexibility to enhance the fighter's ability to perform a wide range of techniques in Tai Chi, Jiu Jitsu, Tae Kwon Do, and many more.

It has three strings to help you find the right comfort level. However, the groin cup is usually padded to disperse the groin strike for less impact and damage.

What to Consider When Shopping for an Athletic Cup?

As stated earlier, there are three different types of MMA cups on the market. Here are some essential factors to consider to make an informed decision.


Wearing a protective coat for the first time is strange, especially if You can't get it to fit right. More importantly, the groin cup should promote proper airflow and absorb sweat in this area to ensure it's cool and dry, which matters when it comes to feeling comfortable in this protective gear. Otherwise, it becomes a breeding ground for bacteria and eventually becomes unhygienic, causing you to be unfit for your next training section or significant exhibition/competition.


Like other protective wears, it is essential that the cup is durable. Most manufacturers make this protective gear using polycarbonate.

 Remember that the right product has to be hard but not rigid and too tight. Rigidity hinders your flexibility, which ultimately affects your performance negatively.


MMA cups are designed for one primary purpose - protecting the groin area. Therefore, it's imperative that you choose a product that fits securely to ensure it stays in place to safeguard your male genitalia.

Remember, your opponent would not give you enough time to readjust your cups in a fierce fight. Therefore, it's recommended to consider compression shorts since they are less likely to fall out of place or undo with strap models.

Do female MMA fighters need to wear cups?

The UFC uniform policy enforces the use of protective cups for men. However, it's not required for female MMA fighters. Instead, it's compulsory for them to put on chest protection to avoid bruising, bleeding, or any severe injury.


MMA is a brutal contact sport involving a lot of striking, submission, and grappling. There are many ways things can go wrong almost in an instant. Because of this, the UFC has several rules to protect fighters and attenuate the chances of any severe injury or permanent damage.

Furthermore, you should always wear an MMA cup during any training session - supervised and unsupervised - to protect the groin region from accidental hits.

About the Author

Sifu Jon Funk

Direct 8th generation descendant in the Wong Hon Fun clan. Trained in Canada, Hong Kong, and China. Canadian forms champion, kung fu full contact fighter. Featured on the cover of Inside Kung Fu magazine and Karate/Kung Fu Illustrated.

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