The world of MMA has changed greatly since it’s inception as a sport in the U.S. in the early 90s. Though it has something in common with boxing, wrestling and more traditional martial arts systems, it has developed a equipment all it’s own.
In the beginning of the Ultimate Fighting Championships, there were no gloves (that look much like the gloves above, but leather). It was all bare-knuckle fighting. Though this added to it’s allure and back-alley feel, many competitors broke their hands in their first fight, and were unable to continue the fights that night. Initially, fighting continued for the victorious combatant until he was champion or until he lost or could not continue due to injury. To make the sport more palatable to prospective buyers to the then financially underwater UFC, gloves were designed for the task for grappling as well as protecting the fighter’s hands. At only 6 oz, the gloves just protect the knuckles from being injured during a strike, and not much else. They do not cushion the blow. They also have nothing covering the palm, to aid in the tactile sense during grappling.
The shorts are actually a bit more nuanced than people think. The Bad Boy brand has been around for quite some time, and they were among some of the first apparel brands to begin marketing to MMA athletes. Including antiseptic coating to prevent smell setting into the fabric after many sweaty workouts, a cut that leaves space for kicking and reinforced seams and closures, the fight shorts of today are a different animal compared to the standard board short that many fighters train in.
Add in a mouthguard and a cup, and you’ve got yourself a nearly full kit for mixed martial arts! Many practitioners like to use a spandex shirt or pants for practicing Brazillian Jiu Jitsu, but many other just prefer fight or board shorts and a t-shirt. It really comes down to comfort and money.