Why Do Female MMA Fighters Have Cornrows? – Detailed Explanation

Cornrows – one of the oldest hairstyles in the world that dates back to at least 3500 B.C, are making a huge comeback. Besides awe-inspiring Instagram posts of those tightly braided cornrows, this hairstyle is also popular amongst martial artists, especially MMA fighters. 

And because we know you’re wondering: “Why do female MMA fighters have cornrows?” we explained this hairstyle’s functions to MMA combatants right below!

The One Reason Why Female MMA Fighters Have Cornrows

Cornrows in the ring are not just for show, but they serve their function while MMA fighters are in the fight. Many fighters wear this hairstyle since they prevent their hair from being pulled by their opponent or coming undone halfway through the fight. 

Hair, if not done right, can be a major distraction on stage. Having their hair tightly braided in cornrows helps MMA fighters wholeheartedly focus on their fight with complete confidence and zero distraction. 

Why Do Female MMA Fighters Have Cornrows

Cornrows are prefered by many female fighters

Cornrows – A Combat-Friendly Hairstyle

The hairstyle of the fighter can make a difference between winning and losing. 

Having hair whipping behind your back or slapping onto the face is undoubtedly out of the question when stepping into a ring. 

Full-contact sports such as MMA are hazardous where anything can happen in the heat of the fight. You need to put your guard up every second, so even tucking your hair behind your ears for a moment could be when a blow lands in your face. 

Even worse, many girls tend to grab their opponent’s hair instead of their head and pull it down. 

Hair pulling is illegal in the world of mixed martial arts, yet in the heat of the moment, anything can happen. You do not want your opponents to use your hair against you and put you at a disadvantage on stage. 

Regular buns or ponytails are also not ideal for most female mixed martial artists because they tend to come undone easily, especially due to the intense movements during the match. 

MMA rules and regulations do not allow fighters to use hair accessories such as clips to hold their hair back for safety reasons. 

So, that’s why it is a common sight to see long-haired MMA fighters wear intricate, tight cornrows. This hairstyle holds their hair closer to the head, and it’s unlikely to swish around, get caught on something, or obscure your field of vision. 

Why Do Female MMA Fighters Have Cornrows

Cornrows keep fighters’ hair in an orderly manner

Cornrows also give the fighters a better sense of security as they are more challenging to come undone than a single French braid. The best of all, this African braiding style is for everyone, regardless of the fighter’s length and hair texture. 

This way, hair is unlikely to come out or get in the way of the fighter’s eyesight. Concentration on the cage is of utmost importance, and with your hair perfectly done, you can execute your moves with your full potential. 

Check out this Youtube video by Dope Ethiopian for a beginner-friendly guide on how to cornrow your own hair: How To: Cornrow Your Own Hair | For Beginners

Cornrows – Also A Part Of Personal Branding

Fighters, in MMA especially, place a premium on personal branding, and they always try to cultivate their own personal style.

Besides mannerism and distinct victory dances, physical appearance is also a contributing factor to the branding of female MMA fighters, which can help them gain more media exposure and score more deals of sponsorship. 

Cornrows, in general, help the fighters look edgier without sacrificing the feminist look. That’s why many fighters are faithful to this hairstyle. 

Some even go out of their way and try to make their cornrow as unique as possible. For example, Ronda Rousey refused to change to a different cornrow style as it resembles the look of another combatant.  

Do Cornrows Damage Your Hair?

These extremely tight braids are super uncomfortable to wear, however. Cornrows can put those long locks into a more orderly manner and improve your safety in the ring, yet they put a great torque on the scalp and hurt seriously!

As practical as cornrows might be, this tightly braided competition-style can lead to traction alopecia – a type of hair loss caused by repeatedly pulling the hair. Therefore, cornrows can spell worrying periods for anyone with weak hair concerned about losing their hair.

If worn for long enough, cornrows can put undue stress on your hair, damage the follicles, and cease hair production and eventually permanent hair loss. 

a7QlQc8r3Mi 23JOSeMILfbtmizLtIjUPt1k9EhzOca2XFdSTv7xKutbKXSmrSidwR FU07ja YLgOIkJwsPX4UtpE0ePB6fCQMDZHzZGrsEzuQ8tex7QDHAiQO0U yIP1jj ea

Cornrows can cause hair loss

Here are some tips MMA fighters can follow to avoid hair loss and protect their hair better:

  • Avoid wearing cornrows when you’re off-duty. It is recommended to remove your braids after the match to eliminate the stress on your hair follicles. 
  • In addition, you should also avoid wearing other tightly pulled hairstyles such as buns, ponytails, up-dos, etc., which can pose the same risk of hair loss as cornrows.
  • Use a conditioning treatment for your hair, such as coconut oil, on your damp hair.

Check More: Boxing Gloves for Beginner


1. Are boxer braids and cornrows the same?

Yes. Boxer braids are just another boxing-friendly term for cornrows. As mentioned above, female fighters put on boxer braids to lessen the unwanted impact of close-fighting.

2. Who can wear boxer braids?

Female MMA fighters are recommended to put on boxer braids for practical purposes. However, some also use this hairstyle due to their personal attachment.

Other non-boxing figures can still take a liking to boxer braids. These include people with an African-American heritage, celebrities and performers. And this hairstyle is gender neutral, meaning that men and women alike could wear it!


Why do female MMA fighters have cornrows? Hair is not a major determining factor to victory for MMA fighters, but this tiny detail can help you fight with your full potential in the ring. By keeping your hair more organized, your opponent cannot put you at a disadvantage by intentionally pulling your hair.

Nevertheless, this hairstyle is not recommended for constant wearing as it can cause severe hair loss. You can choose to let your hair down while off-duty and take care of it with leave-in conditioners in between the fights. 

Leave a Comment