As you might imagine, the world of professional fighting is a cutthroat environment wherein athletes must sacrifice their bodies (and oftentimes their greater physical and mental well-being) in order to maintain peak levels of strength, endurance, and performance.
Movies like Rocky, Raging Bull, and Million Dollar Baby may be slight cinematic exaggerations, but their core storylines actually don’t venture too far from the truth of professional combat: In order to be the very best, fighters must have no limit to the level of sacrifices they’re willing to make in order to reach the top.
As such, you might imagine the amount of abuse and physical stress that MMA fighters, boxers, UFC fighters, or any other kind of fighter puts his or her body through on a daily basis. The demands – both physical and mental – are ruthless, and it takes unparalleled levels of focus and determination just to maintain productivity on a day-to-day basis.
Because of this, most would likely agree that a fighter’s techniques for recovery are equally as important as their actual training regimen: If they can’t recover properly (both mentally and physically), there is no chance they’ll be able to reach peak performance come fight time.
Of course, this is why things like nutrition and diet are so critically important to a professional fighter’s livelihood and well-being – if they’re expecting their bodies to be able to perform and recover in the quickest, most efficient ways possible, they need to be extremely wary of every little detail of their physical health.
You may be surprised, then, to learn that a handful of some the world’s most successful MMA and UFC fighters have been turning to CBD oil – a 100% natural hemp-based supplement – in an effort to maintain peak recovery times with very little adverse side effects.
In this article, we discuss some of the most high-profile names in professional fighting that have spoken out in favor of CBD, and why the natural hemp-based compound will likely become more and more popular among MMA and UFC athletes in the coming years.
Prescription Drugs and Painkillers: A Massive Issue in the World of Professional Contact Sport?
It’s no secret that addictive opioid-based painkillers have been a major problem in professional sports, particularly among American football players, rugby players, and professional fighters, where physical abuse and “bodily harm” are literally imbued into the nature of the game.
Back in 2017, in fact, a popular Washington Post article surfaced detailing the National Football League’s (NFL) blatant abuse of painkiller rules and regulations, essentially stating that team doctors would prescribe their players addictive, opioid-based analgesics at any chance necessary in an effort to decrease pain levels and have them play as many games as possible.
Legal filings showed that virtually every single NFL physician had “testified that they violated one or more federal drug laws and regulations [while serving in their capacity as a team doctor].”
Of course, the highly addictive nature and detrimental side effects of opioid painkillers are very well known and have been well-publicised over the years.
Moreover, most UFC fans will have remembered when light heavyweight champion Jon Jones tested positive for USADA (United States Anti-Doping Agency) banned substances last year, and will recall WWE and MMA legend Brock Lesnar’s lengthy discussions regarding his own personal addiction to painkillers, which he blamed on routinely being subject to a “non-forgiving environment” where you’re “dealing with a lot of different injuries at [any] one time.”
For a world-class professional fighter (or athlete of any kind), the last thing you need is for your body to become addicted to the detrimental effects (both mental and physical) of prescription painkillers.
Fortunately, some high-profile athletes have seemingly found a safer, more natural way to cope.
Professional Fighters That Have Advocated for the Use of CBD
Of the handful of high-profile fighters that have spoken out in favor of cannabidiol (CBD), Nate Diaz’s case is probably the most famous, particularly when he was filmed using a CBD vape device at a press conference after a bout with UFC legend Conor McGregor.
When asked about what he was inhaling, Diaz replied:
“It’s CBD. 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.”
In addition to Diaz, several other big-name UFC and MMA stars have advocated for the use of CBD over the course of the last few years:
- TJ Dillashaw | In August 2018, American-based company Green Roads CBD (one of the world’s most popular CBD sellers), announced that two-time UFC Bantamweight Champion TJ Dillashaw had become an “official Green Roads Athlete,” and was a “longtime user of their products.”TJ has recently posted a picture holding a bottle of Green Roads CBD “Relax Bears,” with a caption claiming that they’re “best for relaxing after a hard practice,” and that they help “take the mind off it.”
- Jack McGann | While not (quite) as famous as TJ Dillashaw, Liverpool-born half Irish professional boxer Jack McGann has also advocated for the use of hemp-based supplements, endorsing popular UK-based CBD oil company Love Hemp.Brand directors Tony Calamita and Tom Rowland recently made the trip up to Manchester to support their new athlete’s professional boxing debut, where he emerged victorious after a six-round super welterweight bout with Dwain Grant.During the fight, Jack sported a massive cannabis leaf (in the form of Love Hemp’s official brand logo) on the back of his shorts.
- Gina Mazany | Mazany is an American MMA fighter from Alaska (previously ranked #24 in the world in the Bantamweight class) that, according to Marijuana.com, has spoken outwardly about the use of CBD for a variety of different purposes:”There are so many ways that CBD can benefit everyone in one way or another … it’s not normal [what we put our bodies through], and it’s ideally not healthy. So why can’t we have this extra something to help us recover and stay healthy and keep the brain damage in line? I am not surprised, I am actually surprised that it [the removal of CBD from WADA’s list of banned substances] hasn’t been sooner.”According to the website, Mazany uses a 1:1 ratio CBD/THC vape pen that helps her with anxiety and sleep.
- Chris Camozzi | Back in 2017, Camozzi (a middleweight UFC athlete) posted a lengthy discussion via Reddit’s AMA (Ask Me Anything) series about why he uses CBD oil as a world-class fighter. In the discussion (which, by the way, was entitled “I am a UFC Athlete and I’m openly using Hemp CBD Oil to heal my injuries and improve my recovery”), Camozzi is quoted as saying:”I healed my knee [using CBD oil] faster than my docs had ever seen. I’ll never forget the Dr. saying, ‘I’ve never seen anyone recover from an injury this quickly.’ After everything I had heard about CBD, it wasn’t a shock … I was a believer.”He went on to say that CBD oil had “changed his life,” as well as the lives of “others around him.”
Is CBD Legal to Use for Professional Fighters (or Other Athletes)?
Fortunately for the fighters listed above, overseeing organizations such as the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), which is the drug-testing authority for the UFC, have removed CBD from their list of banned substances.
In an article published by UFC news website BloodyElbow.com, WADA had announced an updated list of prohibited substances for their 2018 fight schedule, and CBD had been removed:
“Cannabidiol (CBD) is no longer prohibited,” the statement read. “Synthetic cannabidiol is not a “cannabimimetic” (a compound that has the stereotypical effects of cannabis). However, cannabidiol extracted from cannabis plants may also contain varying concentrations of THC, which remains a prohibited substance [for all UFC athletes].”
This is of course great news for UFC and MMA fighters who advocate for the use of CBD, as well as great news for athletes of all kind the world over. It seems that the right people are finally starting to distinguish between the effects of non-psychoactive hemp-based extracts, and those of actual marijuana.