Sometimes you can clearly see how much progress has been made with breaking the stigma around cannabis. Only a few years ago, Nate Diaz threw the mixed martial arts community into a frenzy by openly hitting a vape filled with CBD oil on stage during his post-match interview with Conor McGregor.
“It’s CBD,” Diaz told the press when asked about the device. “It helps with the healing process and inflammation, stuff like that. So you want to get these for before and after the fights, training. It’ll make your life a better place.”
While Diaz was absolutely right about the anti-inflammatory and pain management benefits of CBD, that didn’t stop the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), USADA and UFC anti-doping from collectively losing their shit over it.
Diaz was facing a suspension and a possible ban from the sport similar to his older brother Nick.
Today, things look much, much different when it comes to CBD.
After the WADA removed CBD from their banned substances list about a year ago, the UFC has now penned a multi-year, multi-million dollar partnership with Aurora Cannabis Inc. to research the health benefits of CBD for MMA fighters.
The studies will test out the effects of hemp-derived CBD for wound-healing, pain management, inflammation control and overall recovery on top-class MMA athletes over the next eight years.
The research will be conducted in the UFC’s own Performance Institute in Las Vegas, testing the effects on athletes who volunteer to participate in the study by Institute staff. Aurora’s research will be led by Dr. Jason Dyck, a professor at the University of Alberta, a Canada Research Chair in Molecular Medicine and an independent director on the board at Aurora Cannabis.
In a statement, officials for both UFC and Aurora expressed their excitement over the partnership.
“This partnership with Aurora is an extension of that goal, and we’re looking forward to collaborating with Aurora to find new ways to improve the health and safety of athletes who compete in UFC,” said UFC President Dana White.
Terry Booth, CEO of Aurora added, “This global partnership places focus squarely on the health and well-being of UFC’s talented and highly trained athletes. The Aurora-UFC research partnership creates a global platform to launch targeted educational and awareness campaigns, while creating numerous opportunities to accelerate our global CBD business.”
White told the press at a joint press conference between the two he believes about half of all elite athletes use some sort of CBD-based product for recovery that this partnership will make sure those products are safe and authentic, paving the way for future products will help prevent the use “untested CBD treatments,” and will be used during practice, before and after a match.
“The focus is going to be on research, safety, health, and the well being of our athletes,” White said.
It’s well-known how many big-name UFC athletes have been open and clear about their support of not only CBD-based products for recovery but cannabis as a whole. This new partnership could open the doors to more athletes exploring natural, opiate-free alternatives than ever before without the fear of sanctions, suspensions and punishment in one of the most brutal sports around.