If you’ve ever been to an MMA event, you’re probably aware of the tradition of fighters touching gloves at the start of and sometimes during a fight. This signature display is one of the fundamental principles of MMA, and if you’re new to the sport, you may be wondering what the purpose of the act is. So, why do MMA fighters touch gloves?
MMA fighters touch gloves as a show of sportsmanship, respect, and honor. Touching gloves before a fight is the most common way for two fighters to show respect to one another in this sport. It’s basically a silent good luck gesture that transcends verbal communication altogether, and it can be seen as both an act of friendship or guile, depending on who you ask.
This article will take a more in-depth look at glove touches in MMA and the school of thought behind it.
What Is a Glove-Touch?
A glove touch in MMA would be a form of greeting or respect between two fighters in a ring. The act is as old as the sport itself as it is a show of goodwill and great sportsmanship from both fighters. It also communicates to the two fighters that they are both ready for the fight. In some cases, it is also used as an apologetic gesture, for example, after an injury or eye poke.
But a glove touch is exactly what it sounds like: each fighter puts out their hands for a small tap or bump. The display is similar to boxers shaking hands at the start of a fight. But with 10 ounces (283.5 grams) of leather gloves on your hands, the only way to do it is by a simple tap.
The glove touch is one act respected by past and present fighters and viewers globally. If you wish your opponent good luck before and during a fight, it shows you respect the game and are passionate about it.
The School of Thought Behind MMA Fighters Touching Gloves
It’s unclear how the tradition started, but some people suggest that the glove touch originated from boxing. If you are new to the MMA world, you need to know that fighters perform the touch of gloves for different reasons.
It is a show of respect, while for others, it is an easy-win scheme. Either way, the idea behind the glove touch is strictly for the former; at least, that was the intended reason for its creation.
Of course, there have been moments fighters take the brawl outside the cage. One of the most significant reasons why a fighter will try to issue a glove touch is for a show of respect even outside the fight.
Another reason why some MMA fighters will come out for a glove touch is for a chance to get the opponent at a vulnerable position. This act has been for a very long time since the start of the game. And as long as the bell rings, whatever happens later remains fair and right during the fight.
Majorly, the glove touch can often occur several times in the bout. The two significant times for a successful glove touch to happen are either before the fight begins (bell rings) and during the fight.
Touching Gloves Before a Fight
If you plan on becoming an MMA fighter, you will need to familiarize yourself with some essential things in the sport, like the glove touch before a fight starts. Of the two types of glove touches in an MMA fight, the one before starting a fight is ordered by the referee.
This type of glove touch is the most common, and it majorly happens as a result of the referee bringing both fighters close to each other before a fight. However, fighters are always left with a choice, whether to touch each other’s gloves or not.
Touching Gloves During a Fight
The second glove touch in MMA is less common and is not initiated by the referee or even recommended. It typically happens after the fight has started, and it depends on the fighters. They can choose to touch gloves again as an added show of respect and understanding.
It has more significance in value and respect because the referee is not ordering them to do it. As a result, this act may come off as more genuine because they are doing it willingly.
In most cases, MMA fighters do the second glove touch after the fight has started, and they both come towards each other at the center. As soon as they touch gloves, they get right down to business immediately.
Is the Glove-Touch Necessary?
The direct answer to this question is NO. However, it is expected of a fighter to show respect to the fellow opponent before or during the fight. In MMA, the glove touch is a highly respected display, so engaging in this process tells a lot about your sportsmanship.
However, amongst both glove touches, the most unnecessary is simply the second touch. The first touch had already signified the show of respect, and some fighters find the second touch as a form of distraction. Some people also see the second glove touch as a sign that a fighter lacks toughness.
If a fighter chooses, he can respectfully decline not to touch the opponent’s glove. An instance was during the Chris Weidman and Luke Rockhold UFC middleweight championship fight. Luke Rockhold rejected the second glove touch with “no-touch,” claiming the fight had begun in his mind mentally, and he would instead prefer to focus on winning the round.
Can You Fake a Glove-Touch?
Remember, glove touch is not a written rule, especially the second form. You can easily state a glove touch to be a form of risk to any fighter. Fighters have consistently used the glove touch to their advantage against their opponents. It is well-known to be a show of disrespect for a fighter to start swinging a fist just after a glove touch immediately. However, it is not seen as illegal in MMA rules.
The reason why fighters rarely fake the first glove touch is because of the referee’s presence. The second glove touch happens after the bell rings to start the bout, so whatever happens, is fair and just.
An instance of faking a glove touch happened in one of the lesser-known championships between Cedric Santana and Jagarr Jenerou. These two fighters were making their amateur debut; both fighters had extended their hands for a second glove touch. However, immediately after the contact, Jagarr Jenerou had quickly begun swinging his fist at Cedric Santana, knocking him out in seconds.
Faking a glove touch is not the most respectable act in MMA, but it is an act some use to win the fight. As long as no rule prevents faking a glove touch, if it happens, the referee will not stop the fight unless the pounding on an opponent becomes excessive.
As you have seen in the article, a glove touch in MMA has a lot of significance. Not only does it show that the fighters have mutual respect, but it also tells the opponent that they are ready for the fight. However, it is not entirely mandatory, and a fighter can choose to reject it respectfully.
Fighters can also use a glove touch to show apology and empathy if there is an injury to a fighter. However, some fighters often exploit this tradition of sportsmanship, and while it seems disrespectful, there are no written MMA rules against it.
- Combat Museum: Why Do UFC Fighters Touch Gloves?
- MMAJunkie.USAToday: Cheap Shot or ‘Protect Yourself At All Time’ Fighter Goes for Glove Touch, Finish Simultaneously
- The Queensberry Rules: The Annoying Myth About Touching Gloves Mid-Fight Equaling Weakness
- Quora: Why do fighters touch gloves at the beginning of a fight?