According to InsideSport, over 300 million people follow MMA closely. You may not be one of those, and ask what is MMA and is it like cage fighting? Well, yes. MMA is the extreme sports of mixed martial arts. A marriage of techniques including boxing, wrestling and martial arts are used in a cage until a winner is declared. Crazy popular and leaking into other references, we have to ask – what about MMA (or cage fighting) and marijuana?
Overseeing it all is Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), an American mixed martial arts promotion company based in Las Vegas. They are the global leader in MMA promotions. Zuffa is the parent company which is owned by Endeavor Group Holdings.
MMA is about as dangerous as any other full contact sport. MMA athletes can receive the same injuries as players in sports such as hockey and football, including sprains, broken bones and concussions. The difference is the intensity of one on one combat versus two teams.
So do MMA fighters use marijuana or at least medical marijuana? Heck yes.
In 2020, 45.9% of MMA fighters used the plant to improve their mental and physical skills, recover from intense workouts, and heal from injuries or soreness. Around 76.5% report to using CBD for these same types of benefits.
In January of 2021, UFC and the United States Anti-Doping Agency announced a significant change to the UFC’s anti-doping program. Updated rules went into effect on 1 January 2021 and said athletes will no longer be punished for testing positive for marijuana, specifically THC.
Prior to the change, athletes were only tested for marijuana in-competition around a fight but there were threshold levels in place and a positive test above that limit resulted in a doping violation. Now under the new rules, fighters will no longer be punished for testing positive for marijuana unless their is evidence the substance was taken for performance-enhancing purposes.
“It’s really, as with everything we do with this program, it’s science-based,” UFC senior vice president of athlete health and performance Jeff Novitzky told MMA Fighting.
Increasingly, professional athletes in sports ranging from football to bicycling to long-distance running have turned to using cannabis to reduce pain from post-game injuries and to help speed recovery. Medical marijuana can help with pain, swelling and injury recovery.
Cage fighting has become such a popular and mainstream sport, Twitter owner Elon Musk challenged Meta Founder/CEO Mark Zuckerberg to a MMF fight. Musk seemed surprised with the martial arts expert Zuckerberg seemed to accept. While Musk is a fan of marijuana, not sure Zuckerberg will use it for his fight recovery.
UFC is part of the combined William Morris Agency and Endeavor Talent Agency new holding company. Endeavor Group Holdings represents artists in film, television, music, theater, digital media, and publishing and represents the NFL and the NHL. They also own Professional Bull Riders (PBR). A deal to purchase WWE and merge it with UFC is expected to be completed in the second half of 2023. Endeavor is headed by CEO Ari Emanuel whose brother Rahm Emanuel was mayor of Chicago and Chief of Staff to President Obama.