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These combat athletes have touted cannabis for peak performance

Updated: Oct 23, 2022

By Mehka King

12 boxers, wrestlers, and MMA fighters who trust CBD and THC-infused products for their training, recovery, and business ventures.

Fight fans enjoy every punch, kick, and takedown from their seats. But do you ever wonder how these fighters train for—and recover from—such brutal physical punishment?

Pain pills have dominated high-contact sports like mixed martial arts (MMA), wrestling, and football for years. But a handful of modern gladiators are now going all-in on weed as an alternative to prescription pharmaceuticals.

For instance, many combat fighters use CBD, a cannabinoid in weed that does not cause noticeable psychoactive effects. That’s because CBD is legal in many places that THC-infused cannabis is not.

So which pro fighters are trailblazers, entrepreneurs, and proud users? Here are 12 of the most notable cannabis advocates from the world of combat sports.

Buster Douglas

In this Feb. 11, 1990 photo, heavyweight boxer James “Buster” Douglas waves to the cheering crowd following a 10th round knockout victory over Mike Tyson at the Tokyo Dome. In one of the more spectacular upsets in sports history, Douglas defeated Tyson, the reigning world heavyweight champion.

Buster Douglas made history in 1990 when he defeated heavyweight champion Mike Tyson against long odds.

After spending 18 years as a professional fighter, Douglas continues to grapple with lingering pains and aches. Now, the 61-year-old champion has admitted to using CBD, and endorses products for the Ohio-based CBD Health Coalition. Through the partnership, Douglas has a signature line of premium CBD products.

Nate and Nick Diaz

MMA legend Nate Diaz said he plans to retire from a legendary career as a pro fighter. In 2016, Diaz hit a CBD vape at a post-fight press conference, explaining, “CBD—It helps with the healing process and the inflammation.” He did it again in 2019.

Nate’s brother Nick almost lost his career in 2015 over a failed THC test. Before that, he spent years relying on the ol’ ”drink ten pounds of water and sweat it out method” to beat tests.

Now, the Diaz bros’ cannabis brand, Game Up, provides oils and tinctures as well as pre-rolls. With the UFC’s recent THC-limit increase, Nate felt comfortable hitting his THC-infused “Kill_4209” strain in 2021 at a pre-fight weigh-in. He did it again in front of a U.S. Doping Agency tester earlier this year.

Elias Theodorou

This week, Theodorou passed away from cancer at 34. The Canadian-born trailblazer won UFC’s Ultimate Fighter reality TV series in 2014, and made history as the first fighter to get a therapeutic use exemption (TUE) for medical cannabis from the United States Anti-Doping Agency. In 2021, he won his first TUE fight, and eventually compiled a 19-3 record in the ring before his untimely passing.

Evan Holyfield

The son of heavyweight boxing legend Evander Holyfield is building a strong reputation of his own, inside the ring and beyond. Not only has he been beating opponents, he’s also joined the long list of fighters who proudly use CBD products as part of their pre and post-fight routines.

Evan also has a sponsorship deal with The Georgia Hemp Company, and currently has nine wins and one loss as a pro.

Anthony Joshua

The British boxer is a two-time world champion and true believer in the power of CBD. Joshua is a shareholder in the UK-based Love Hemp company. Love Hemp is a sponsor of the UFC, and Joshua serves as a voice for the brand and the face of his own signature CBD line.

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