UFC and Aurora Cannabis: A Ground-Breaking Partnership

August 20, 2019 Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Google+ News

Last month the UFC announced a partnership with Aurora Cannabis that promises to significantly advance research into Cannabidiol (CBD).

This collaborative study will be conducted out of the UFC Performance Institute with the aim to create a product that is safe, well researched, and will eventually be the exclusive CBD oil of the UFC through the newly created Roar Sports brand.

Since its removal from the WADA prohibited list last year, CBD has become popular amongst MMA fighters and athletes in general. According to the UFC, 50% of fighters polled admitted to using the CBD oil. CBD appears to be here to stay, so let’s take a look at why exactly it is so popular among UFC fighters. 


Firstly, the most relevant positive effect of CBD oil is its pain-relieving aspects. Marijuana has long been believed to help with pain hence the rise in the medical marijuana industry. CBD oil, however, eliminates the psychoactive ingredient of the drug (THC) to allow users to get the pain relief they need without the side effect of getting high. 

As many people feel achy after only running a couple of miles, it is hard to imagine the pain MMA fighters endure during a tough and long training camp. Most camps range between 8-12 weeks and will involve multiple intensive sessions per day. With a mix of cardio, strength work, and sparring, MMA fighters put their body to the test every day.

The toughest fighters often pick up injuries during this period of training but continue to push through to make it to their scheduled event. Even if they don’t pick up an injury, the aches and pains that come with such intense workouts can inhibit performance. Therefore, it is key that these athletes recover quickly. 

For a long time, ice baths and massages have been the go-to methods for ensuring that professional fighters have a quick recovery. The use of CBD oil now seems to have been added by many to their routine, with its benefits clearly impacting a vast number of people.

A quick look into the pharmaceutical alternative for pain relief reveals a reason why fighters are gravitating towards CBD. The over the counter drug Ibuprofen is taken daily by millions of people to help with general aches and pains. However, a 2016 study published in the British Medical Journal found that non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as Ibuprofen increase the likelihood of heart failure by 20%.

In the USA, there is an ongoing problem associated with prescription painkillers or opioids. The drugs contain the illegal substance heroin and are very powerful acting like morphine to provide relief of extreme pain. They are also highly addictive and are believed to be directly responsible for 47000 deaths in America during the year of 2017 alone. 

Whether it’s bought in store or prescribed by a doctor, pharmaceutical pain medication could have a serious impact on a fighter’s health or wellbeing, hence, many are gravitating towards an alternative allowing the rise of CBD.

However, cannabidiols are currently lacking the clinical research needed to scientifically determine its benefits or highlight any potential negative aspects. Despite this, fighters are already committed to its usage with the pain-relieving properties aiding many of them through tough fight camps. 

A secondary useful effect of CBD is it is believed to reduce anxiety. It is natural for all fighters to get nervous in the build up to a fight, as they are preparing to perform with thousands of fans watching live and millions around the world.

With plenty of nerves heading into a fight, you can certainly understand why athletes are seeking relief from this. First and foremost, these fights are very important to UFC athletes, it is everything they’ve worked for. It’s their career and a short career at that, so the pressure to succeed is undeniable.

Think of it as any other career only with great acceleration. If you do well (win) you are rewarded with a promotion, you earn more money, and are respected by your peers. If you don’t do so well (lose) you could be demoted, lose money, or even face the sack. 

Mixed Martial Arts is a game with high stakes that all relies on what happens during that 15 or 25 minutes they spend in the cage on one particular night. The potential for a fight to go wrong is always a possibility. Concussions, serious injuries, or even death could occur. Fighters are always aware of the risks and it will of course play on their mind, with most having families they need to support.

Staying calm is key to performance in any walk of life and especially in MMA. According to Aurora CEO Terry Booth, fighters burn up to 20% of their adrenaline just walking to the cage. If that’s the case, CBD will help bring that number down allow the fighter to be better prepared to perform.


By reducing pain and relieving anxiety, CBD is revolutionising the way athletes are preparing to compete. For fighters who are experiencing the positive benefits of CBD they are enjoying a full camp with reduced pain. They are then entering the night of the fight calmer, therefore leaving them with more energy to perform to their best ability. 

As well as these two key athlete specific effects, CBD is believed to have even more positive aspects that can help MMA fighters or anyone in their daily life. Benefits include aiding sleep, easing symptoms of depression, neuroprotection, benefiting heart health, preventing diabetes, and much more.

The recently announced partnership between the UFC and Aurora Cannabis will look to provide the medical data that confirms all the positives effects, highlight any potential side effects, and ensure fighters are putting WADA approved substances into their body.

One thing is for sure, CBD oil is here to stay. It’s just a matter of time before it’s adapted by all athletes for performance, and by the general public for better quality of life

View press release by UFC.


UFC President Dana White and Aurora Cannabis CEO Terry Booth (Photo by Chris Unger, Zuffa)