Can You Wear Shoes in MMA?

By Logan •  Updated: 12/13/21 •  3 min read

MMA fighters that are part of the UFC organization are not permitted to wear shoes in the ring. The club established uniform rules in 2009 that banned athletes from wearing footgear during a fight. MMA fighters enter the Octagon barefoot for their events.

In this post, we’re looking at the reasons why MMA fighters don’t wear shoes. We’ll also look back through times when shoes were allowed for a fight. Read on to discover why MMA fights are fought barefoot.

Can You Wear Shoes in MMA?

Why Don’t MMA Fighters Wear Shoes to Fight?

MMA fighters don’t wear shoes to compete. In an MMA fight, fighters try to find any advantage they can to win the match. One of the most common advantages is fighting barefoot. The point of wearing no shoes is to gain better traction and feel for the ground to lessen the chances of slipping or falling. 

Another reason they don’t wear shoes is because it allows fighters better control over their posture and the use of their muscles. Being able to feel the mat or the floor under their feet creates better muscle connection.

There was a time when fighters were allowed shoes. Proponents of those times say it’s better to allow the athletes increased protection.

Why Do UFC Fighters Fight Barefoot?

It’s been the tradition for the majority of MMA’s history that the fighters fight barefoot. In keeping with that tradition, athletes don’t wear any type of shoes on their feet. This tradition didn’t come out of nowhere, though. There are some good reasons for it.

What Can You Wear on Your Feet in MMA?

MMA fighters often wear wraps on their feet when training. This is similar to wearing hand wraps for boxers. They may wear tape wraps, cloth wraps, or ankle guards.

Tape wraps are ideal for some fighters because they’re easy to take off after a session. Cloth wraps are soft and comfortable. Some fighters like them better because they’re reusable. 

Ankle guards give more support to a fighter’s ankles. They’re good at reducing the risk of an ankle sprain. They’re easy to put on and take off. Sometimes, they have gel inside them that provides extra protection for the feet. 

Can UFC Fighters Fight in Foot Wraps?

MMA fighters in the UFC cannot wrap or tape their feet for a fight. They’re only allowed to use wraps for their hands.

They are permitted to wear neoprene sleeves to cover their ankles and knees. No padding, metal, plastic, or any other extra pieces are allowed on the sleeves. 

Final Thoughts

MMA fighters do not typically wear shoes. Those fighting in the UFC are not allowed to wear shoes for a fight. The tradition is to fight barefoot. It’s better for muscle training, balance, and keeping fights fair.


Hi, I've been an avid MMA fan all my life. I've been training in martial arts for the last 5 years and wanted to share some of the tips and tricks that I've picked up along the way to help to aspiring martial artists get started.

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