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Updated on February 5, 2024

CBD and MMA

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Key takeaways

  • CBD was removed from World Anti-Doping Agency list in 2018. This means it is legal for MMA fighters and pro-athletes to use CBD products.
  • CBD is legal in MMA.
  • CBD possess some excellent therapeutic benefits which may benefit MMA fighters.
  • Research shows that CBD may provide pain-relief, anti-inflammation, promote energy and good sleep in athletes.
  • Several MMA fighters have used CBD for pain relief and recovery.

Since CBD was removed from WADA’s list of banned substances in 2018, several professional athletes including MMA fighters have indicated their interest in its therapeutic benefits. Over the years, CBD has gained popularity among MMA fighters thanks to its pain relieving, anti-inflammatory and sleep-promoting properties. In this article we would look at the possible therapeutic roles of CBD and how MMA fighters can benefit from it.

IS CBD legal in MMA?

Yes. While THC, the primary psychoactive compound in cannabis, remains prohibited by anti-doping organizations like WADA and USADA, the ban on CBD has been lifted. This policy change, coupled with the growing popularity of CBD, has led many MMA fighters to embrace it as a natural, safe, and legal method to enhance their recovery. CBD's reputed anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties make it attractive for athletes seeking to manage the rigors of intense training and competition. As fighters increasingly recognize the potential benefits of CBD, it has become a prominent component of their wellness and recovery routines within the evolving landscape of sports supplementation.

What are the benefits of CBD in MMA?

Some MMA athletes have attested to using for one or more of the following therapeutic benefits;

  1. Pain Management: MMA fighters often experience intense training sessions and injuries, leading to pain and inflammation. CBD's potential analgesic properties may help manage pain without the side effects associated with traditional painkillers.
  2. Inflammation Reduction: CBD is known for its anti-inflammatory effects. Given the physical demands of MMA training and competition, reducing inflammation can aid in faster recovery and better overall performance.
  3. Recovery and Healing: CBD may contribute to quicker recovery by promoting better sleep, reducing muscle soreness, and supporting the body's natural healing processes. Enhanced recovery is crucial for athletes participating in high-impact sports like MMA.
  4. Anxiety and Stress Relief: MMA fighters often face high levels of stress and anxiety, both in training and during competitions. CBD's potential anxiolytic properties may help manage stress and anxiety, promoting mental well-being.
  5. Neuroprotective Effects: Some research suggests that CBD has neuroprotective properties. Protecting the brain from potential trauma is particularly relevant in a sport like MMA, where head injuries can occur.
  6. Weight Management: CBD may influence metabolism and appetite regulation. For fighters looking to manage weight and optimize their performance in specific weight classes, these effects could be beneficial.

5 MMA fighters who have used CBD

  1. Jon “Bones” Jones

Renowned MMA fighter Jon "Bones" Jones, presently endorsed by Pure Kana, shared an Instagram photo featuring a Pure Kana CBD Toothpick. As of February 8, 2020, he is gearing up to defend his Light Heavyweight Title against challenger Dominick Reyes at UFC 247. Jones' association with Pure Kana highlights the growing integration of CBD products into the training and recovery regimens of elite athletes, emphasizing its potential role in the competitive world of mixed martial arts.

  1. Matt Riddle

Matt Riddle initially showcased promise in the UFC, securing victories in his initial two fights. However, his career took a turn when he twice tested positive for cannabis, leading to his release from the sport. Riddle has candidly discussed his use of cannabis for medical purposes, addressing physical discomfort and personal challenges. Transitioning to professional wrestling, he has excelled, earning accolades like the Wrestling Observer Newsletter's "Rookie of the Year" and "Most Improved Wrestler of the Year" in 2016, illustrating his resilience and success in a different athletic domain.

  1. Sean O’Malley

Sean "Suga" O'Malley, a tall and agile lightweight fighter known for his energetic style and vibrant personality, openly embraces his cannabis use. Notably, after a significant UFC triumph, he shared a smoke with iconic cannabis enthusiast Snoop Dogg. O'Malley solidifies his association with the cannabis culture by conducting interviews in a robe adorned with marijuana leaves. Demonstrating his commitment to both fighting and cannabis, he introduced his own strain, Suga Show OG, a hybrid of Lemonhead and OG 92, showcasing his genuine passion for both realms.

  1. Tyron Woodley

Tyron "The Chosen One" Woodley, a highly respected figure in MMA, has joined the growing trend of athletes exploring the benefits of CBD for health and wellness. Known for his impressive seven-fight winning streak and a three-year reign as the Welterweight champion, Woodley understands the importance of self-care in the demanding world of mixed martial arts. Having faced injuries and undergone surgery, he acknowledges the necessity of effective recovery. Woodley has incorporated a CBD freezer roller into his regimen, recognizing its potential to aid relaxation and promote peace during the body's natural recovery processes.

  1. Tiki Ghosn

Tiki Ghosn, a former MMA fighter and esteemed trainer, possesses a wealth of experience in shaping MMA champions. With a remarkable 16-year career as a fighter, his enduring presence in the sport is a testament to his formidable skills. Ghosn's affinity for Muay Thai led him to the world of MMA, where he crossed paths with Tito Ortiz and Rob McCullough, forming the renowned Team Punishment that brought joy to many fans. Notably, UFC owner Dana White managed Ghosn during the pinnacle of his career, showcasing his deep connection to the sport. Ghosn's training style and intimate knowledge make him a sought-after mentor, with his recommendation of using CBD bath bombs to alleviate the persistent aches and pains that result from the sport's physical toll.

Frequently asked Questions

Can UFC fighters use CBD?

Yes, CBD was removed from the list of WADA banned substances in 2018, therefore UFA fighters are free to use the substance. However, adequate care must be taken so as not use CBD products with a high level of THC as this may lead them to failing a drug test.

IS CBD good for MMA fighters?

CBD is beneficial for fighters in martial arts, offering positive effects on heart health, blood circulation, and protection for the nervous and immune systems. Its anti-inflammatory properties aid in injury recovery, and CBD oil is recognized for its active pain-relieving properties, making it a valuable asset for fighters managing the physical toll of their sport.

Can pro MMA athletes use CBD?

Yes, professional athletes can use CBD. The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), responsible for overseeing prohibited substances in sports globally, has officially accepted CBD for use by professional athletes.

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Sources

Rojas-Valverde, D., & Fallas-Campos, A. (2023). Cannabidiol in sports: Insights on how CBD could improve performance and recovery. Frontiers in Pharmacology, 14. https://doi.org/10.3389/fphar.2023.1210202

Rojas-Valverde, D. (2021). Potential Role of Cannabidiol on Sports Recovery: A Narrative Review. Frontiers in Physiology, 12. https://doi.org/10.3389/fphys.2021.722550

Gamelin, F., Cuvelier, G., Mendes, A., Aucouturier, J., Berthoin, S., Di Marzo, V., & Heyman, E. (2020). Cannabidiol in sport: Ergogenic or else? Pharmacological Research, 156, 104764. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.phrs.2020.104764

Sahinovic, A., Irwin, C., Doohan, P. T., Kevin, R. C., Cox, A. J., Lau, N. S., Desbrow, B., Johnson, N. A., Sabag, A., Hislop, M., Haber, P. S., McGregor, I. S., & McCartney, D. (2022). Effects of Cannabidiol on Exercise Physiology and Bioenergetics: A Randomised Controlled Pilot Trial. Sports Medicine - Open, 8(1), 1-18. https://doi.org/10.1186/s40798-022-00417-y

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