A fighter’s body is capable of withstanding seemingly inhuman amounts of punishment. We’ve all seen fighters walk through hell to get the win or at least prove their mettle, but there is one specific place on a man’s body that just cannot be conditioned, and that is the groin.
This is why MMA fighters are always required to wear groin protection, just like they must wear a mouthguard. The cups ensure the fighter’s safety, even though groin strikes are illegal.
This has not always been the case, however. Let’s go through a brief history lesson and see what types of cups fighters use and why.
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Boxers have been using groin protection since the 1930s. Still, early MMA fights were advertised as “no holds barred” events and were perceived to be very barbaric. And, if we have to be honest, they were. One legendary moment from UFC 4 was when groin strikes were still legal. Joe Son definitely wished that he had worn a cup at the time.
Groin strikes were outlawed in 1997, and fighters were made to wear protection in case of unintentional fouls. And unfortunately, these things happen rather often. Fighting is often chaotic, and inside low kicks especially have the nasty tendency to find the “family jewels.”
Today, in the UFC and MMA, if a fighter suffers a low blow, he is given 5 minutes to recover. At the same time, his opponent may receive a penalty, depending on the severity or intention of the foul.
Groin cups have been widely used in many contact sports, not just combat sports. But you probably don’t know that the first jockstraps were invented for cyclists back in 1874.
MMA fighters must wear a protective cup under their shorts and are part of the uniform with the shorts, gloves, and mouth guards. The MMA cup is not the same as the boxing groin protection, which also covers some parts of the waist and hips. MMA fighters wear different cups, but we will take a more detailed look at them below.
Do MMA Fighters Wear Jockstraps?
The jockstrap is the most common way for MMA fighters to hold the actual protective cup. A jockstrap is a strap itself, and it does not always include a cup, but it always does in a combat sports scenario. The jockstrap is very easy to put on and take off right before it is needed. The cup isn’t just for competitions. In fact, most fighters use it every time they spar or roll on the mats.
The cup offers more than just protection. It holds everything in place without restricting movement in any way. When the cup is integrated into compression shorts, it improves stretching and mobility. This way, you get completely unhindered movement, comfort, and reasonable protection.
Female MMA fighters have a slightly different uniform than their male colleagues. While both wear shorts, the ladies must wear a short-sleeved or sleeveless, tight-fitting rash guard. According to the Unified Rules of MMA, they are not required to wear groin protection.
A common misconception is that women do not suffer low blows. While men are significantly more vulnerable, women can also suffer from excruciating pain and injuries to their genitalia. Women can also get groin protection in a pelvic protector, which is a nearly flat protective piece.
Overall, it is very similar to the male cup. However, they are not required to be worn by the rules, so it is doubtful that you will see one.
What Are The Different Types Of Cups?
There are a few different types of cups used in combat sports, but two are popular in MMA: the compression shorts cup and the jockstrap. There are metal cups used in Muay Thai and the bulkier boxing groin protector. Still, both have too many drawbacks when grappling is involved, so they remain only in their respective domains.
It’s only reasonable that the most comfortable type of cup is the best one. Elastic and tight compression shorts are already great and offer amazing comport and help with blood circulation, so adding the protective cup is natural.
With these, you get rid of the nuisance of having to readjust your cup all the time. Another bonus is that you can usually wear shorts with and without the cup. In terms of comfort, this type of cup is the best.
The traditional jockstraps are easy to find and relatively cheap to buy (but I highly suggest investing in a good quality one). The jockstrap is essentially a waistband with a couple of straps holding a front piece of cloth.
You place the cup in the cloth and adjust the straps. These are easy to come by and easy to use, so they are extremely popular. Higher-end models have features like extra breathability, anti-odor materials, and other niceties.
Even if you don’t compete, a groin protector is a must. Without reason, men refer to their genitals as “the family jewels.” They MUST be protected. So choosing something that fits perfectly, doesn’t hinder movement, and offers good protection is a task you should not overlook. And just like with most MMA equipment, you get what you pay for.