When people talk about MMA shorts, they originally referred them to as board shorts. They get called board shorts as they had very similar characteristics to surfing board shorts.

Surfing has been around since 1767 and introduced in the U.K in 1929. MMA as a sport has nowhere near been around as long as surfing as the first-ever UFC was only in 1993.

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Surfing and MMA couldn’t be further apart, so why are their shorts so similar?

If you have ever been down Fistral beach in Newquay, Cornwall you would know the vibe is very chilled. After all, it is the surfing capital of the UK.

It is far from a lifestyle of martial artists and fighters. Of course, some surfers have a fiery personality and clash with other surfers from time to time like surfing legend Andy Irons, but I don’t think they would fancy stepping in the cage with an MMA champion.

Irons even suggested that surfing makes him an athlete. He said:I am a professional athlete, which means it’s part of the deal for people to watch me and watch what I do in and out of the water’

So, are MMA shorts the same as Surfing Board Shorts?

As MMA was fast-growing in popularity, it needed suitable apparel that would be tough wearing and allowing fighters to be agile and flexible as they will be grappling and high kicking in them.

So, some of the original MMA brands were in fact surfing clothing brands. They took their surfing board shorts which are made from a spandex/polyester material as it is perfect for making them lightweight and redesigned them to suit MMA.

This material was designed and suitable for the sea and had sweat-wicking and antimicrobial properties, so it would be a durable product for MMA.

Read our article ‘What are the different fight shorts in martial arts? here’.

Alex Reid sporting our MMA shorts and MMA gloves

Is there a difference in the visual design of MMA and Surfing Board Shorts?

However, it would have looked kinda odd if a fighter was to step into the cage with a pair of bright colourful shorts with palm trees or surfboards printed on them.

So, the original MMA brands produced these shorts in a more aggressive, fighter style design.

MMA shorts have now evolved and been slightly modified from the early style of board shorts. They now have more specialized features to improve comfort, flexibility and the fighter’s overall performance.

Do MMA shorts have any differences from Surfing Board Shorts?

Yes, there are a couple of different design additions to MMA shorts that make them more suitable for the sport.

  1. Dual Velcro Fastening: This is used to keep shorts in place and prevent any movement. Shorts have velcro fastening strip on the front and a horizontal on the waistband. This makes your shorts more secure. It also hides your drawstring so it cannot be pulled.
  2. Split Seams: Split seams are an important feature that allows free movement during grappling and high leg kicks. They minimize stretching and risk of tearing. Different brands use different sizes of split seams. Split seams make shorts flexible for MMA workouts.