Every man has the misfortune of knowing what it feels like to get hit in their most sensitive area. While that’s true, shots to the groin are very much illegal in MMA. That leads to the question of do UFC fighters wear cups?
It’s an interesting question as why would you protect an area where you should never be hit? Here we’ll answer that question while also looking at the benefits of a cup and whether or not females wear one as well. Let’s get started!
Table of Contents
Do UFC Fighters Wear Groin Guard?
Yes, they do. But why wear protection for what would be an illegal shot? The reason is that accidental low blows are common and the consequences of being caught with such a blow can be severe.
We often see how much pain men can be in when they get hit in the groin, even when wearing a cup. Being hit there without a cup can lead to the likes of a ruptured testicle, which is no laughing matter, as removal of the testicle is sometimes required.
History of UFC’s Cup Rule
The use of protective cups in MMA is far from a recent thing. However, initially, the UFC didn’t have any specific rules about the use of protective cups. This is because in 1993 when the UFC was formed, the rules were a little bit all over the place.
However, as the sport grew, there were more calls for a more unified set of rules as the UFC became more professional. Safety considerations were a priority and soon more concrete rules were put in place.
In 2002, the New Jersey State Athletic Control Board (NJSACB) implemented a mandatory requirement for male fighters to wear protective cups during MMA bouts. This is a rule that still stands today.
They stipulated that the groin guard would be one of their own selection but that it needs to be approved by the Commissioner. Other commissions took New Jersey’s lead and the cup, or groin guard, became a standard piece of protective equipment.
It is now a part of the Unified Rules of Mixed Martial Arts which are based on those New Jersey rules from above, with a few amendments.
Benefits of Wearing a Cup in UFC
The obvious benefit of wearing a protective cup is to protect against groin injuries. MMA is a high-impact sport, so you’ll want to have protection where you’re allowed it. Let’s look at in a little more detail at the benefits of wearing a cup in the UFC.
Protection – The testicles are very important as they are responsible for not only producing sperm but also testosterone. Severe injury can lead to their removal which can mean not being able to have children and needing testosterone replacement.
While most strikes to the groin will lead to bruising and discomfort, it can also lead to either testicular torsion or rupture. Surgery is often required for both of these issues.
The Resumption of Fights – For those ladies reading, getting hit in the groin guard still hurts, a lot. The compression of the guard after a direct hit can slightly trap the testicles. While nowhere near as bad or dangerous as a direct it, it can still be very painful.
It’s due to this that UFC referees will give MMA fighters up to five minutes to recover after an illegal shot. This ensures they have fully recovered from any discomfort before any fighting resumes.
Without the groin guard, even five minutes may not be enough, and fights would need to be called off.
Training Disruption – Sparring in any martial art can be tricky as you want to replicate the real thing as closely as possible but don’t want to risk injury. This is why much more protective equipment is worn in training rather than in fights.
Whether it is a head cut, swollen testicles, bruised bone, or worse, you want to do everything you can to avoid an injury halting your progress. Whenever you’re training in MMA, a groin guard should be worn.
Confidence – While I’ve never made this mistake in martial arts, I once played a cricket match without a groin guard. All I could think about was not getting it, especially as cricketers get hit there more than in any other sport!
I couldn’t play properly and in MMA, you won’t be able to fight properly either. You’d be constantly worried about getting hit in the groin. A guard will give you the mental clarity to focus on your skills.
What Types of Cups Do UFC Fighters Use?
There isn’t one standard cup that an MMA fighter will use. Instead, they come in many shapes and sizes but there are two main types. They are hard cups and compression cups.
Hard Cups – Hard cups are made from a rigid material such as plastic and are designed to maintain their shape, regardless of how hard they are hit.
These cups are held in place by a jockstrap which will hold them securely in place. These are often more restrictive but provide greater protection.
Compression Cups – The alternative is compression-style cups. These are made from more flexible materials such as foam and are designed to fit snugly against the body. This leads many to ask what do UCF fighters wear under their shorts as they are much more subtle than traditional groin guards.
They are often integrated into compression shorts and offer the greatest level of mobility. This makes them the most popular option, even though they offer a little less protection.
Do Female UFC Fighters Need to Wear Cups?
The New Jersey rules that we stated above originally prohibited the use of groin guards for women. Those rules were amended and now it states that groin guards for women are neither prohibited nor mandatory.
Therefore, female fighters are free to choose whether or not they wish to wear a cup. Of course for women there is nothing there to ‘cup’ so these are much flatter and generally smaller groin guards than the men wear.
There is no doubt that getting hit in the groin can be incredibly painful for women and can lead to bruising and bleeding. However, women have less of a target in this area and the consequences aren’t quite as severe.
Due to this, most female fighters prefer not to wear one at all, There is no doubt that a groin guard can feel restrictive so women generally choose to take the minimal risk. As we mentioned, getting hit there is as much of a foul for women as it is for men.
Other Protection Worn During a UFC Fight
Along with a UFC cup protector, UFC fighters have a few other bits of protective equipment when heading into a fight. Some of the essential protective equipment worn by fighters include:
Mouthguards – Mouthguards are required to protect the teeth and gums during strikes. They help to spread out the pressure from a strike which prevents soft tissue damage and damaged teeth.
Hand Wraps and Gloves – Without wraps, fighters would be at a huge risk of wrist fractures and sprains. Gloves are there to help prevent hand and finger fractures, along with reducing the risk of excessive cuts and damage.
Chest Protector – Women are required to wear chest protectors. These offer additional padding and help prevent breast injuries.
Other Protection – While not allowed during fights, for sparring MMA fighters may also wear shin/instep guards, headgear, and full chest protectors. These help to prevent any unnecessary injuries.