UFC color commentator Joe Rogan has been saying for a long time that the issue of gloves in the UFC needs to be addressed. In the interest of fighters’ safety, Rogan believes there should be no more gloves or wrist taping.
“I think the real answer is no gloves.”
While many people would instinctively say it’s more dangerous to fight without gloves, Rogan made the point that this is not actually the case.
“I think with MMA, one of the things is that you really can’t tee off on someone the way you can with boxing gloves. With boxing gloves, you almost can have no concern about whether you’re going to hit a forehead or hit an elbow.”
“Even MMA fighters, they have an unrealistic amount of protection on their hands, and it’s just to protect their hands.”
Rogan was speaking on his podacast, The Joe Rogan Experience, with Steve Maxwell (BJJ instructor and Royce Gracie’s coach in his first few UFC fights) and stated that the gloves actually make striking more reckless.
“Not only no gloves, no wrist taping. I think one of the more difficult aspects about punching someone is that your wrist joint moves when you hit things, and it makes it way harder. You have to really concentrate to keep your fist completely tight, make sure that your wrist doesn’t move when you make impact”.
Rogan illustrated this with the example of Tank Abbott, the first UFC fighter to start wearing gloves. Tank was a big puncher rather than a technical martial artist, who wore the gloves to protect his hands and enable him to hit his opponents harder with poor technique. Tank subsequently hit opponents with big shots to various parts of the head, with technique that would have seen him injure his hands and wrists if he were not wearing gloves.
Back at UFC 6, Tank wore gloves while the other fighters did not.
Rogan and Maxwell also went on to discuss how gloves distort martial arts, making boxing a more prominent form of fighting in the Octagon, while Muay Thai and grappling would be more useful without gloves. Grapplers are actually at a disadvantage wearing gloves because of the difficulty to apply submissions.
“It’s like wearing oven mitts,” said Maxwell.
Rogan summarized that even the most ardent fan is not conditioned to seeing fighters go bare knuckle and could see it as barbaric. This can’t be understated. Public perception is going to be very influential in what happens in mainstream MMA.