UFC star Nate Diaz is lighting up in front of the cameras again. But this time, it won’t land him with a suspension or sideline his career. In fact, when Diaz sparked up a joint during his UFC 241 open workout on Wednesday, the media and the crowd erupted in applause. It was a show of support that Diaz returned in kind by passing the joint around with those in attendance. The scene marked the first time a UFC fighter has ever burned one during an open workout. And it signals how far the UFC and professional mixed martial arts in general have come on the issue of athlete’s using cannabis. And if there’s anyone who deserves much of the thanks for that progress, it’s Nate Diaz.
Nate Diaz’ Smokes Up Crowd During Open Workout
Award-winning MMA fighter Nate Diaz is something of a martyr for professional athletes around the world. In the face of rules barring UFC athletes from consuming cannabis, Diaz remained open and unapologetic about using cannabis to help his body recover from the punishing rigors of the cage. That refusal to back down and follow the rules ultimately cost him three years of his UFC career. Now, that same commitment to cannabis is launching his UFC comeback.
It’s been more than three years since Diaz has stepped into the Octagon. His fight against Anthony Pettis Saturday night in Anaheim, California will be his first since the UFC suspended him for cannabis back in 2016. The anticipation around the fight is huge. But Diaz took the media’s presence at his open workout to show that despite the time off, he’s still the same weed-loving, bone-crushing fighter he’s always been.
In the middle of his workout at The Honda Center, Diaz sparked up a joint. After taking a few puffs for the camera, he passed it around the crowd. Understandably, the place went crazy, and everyone wanted their turn in the rotation. It would seem like a bold move for a fighter just returning to the Octagon after being banned for cannabis. But this time, Diaz wasn’t breaking any rules, because the joint he was passing around contained cannabidiol (CBD), not THC.
And not just any CBD, either. The hemp flower in the joint was from Diaz’ own line of performance products, Game Up Nutrition. You can even purchase a 1000mg bottle of hemp-derived, non-GMO CBD oil on Game Up Nutrition’s website while you read up on all the Diaz-endorsed benefits of cannabidiol.
UFC Now Allows In-Competition CBD Use
In 2016, Nate Diaz made sports headlines when he began puffing on a CBD vape pen at a press conference. It was the moment that arguably contributed most to Diaz’ suspension. The press conference came after Diaz’ banner bout against Conor McGregor. And throughout the conversation with reporters, Diaz wasn’t just hitting his CBD vape. He was also being as open as possible about what it was and why he was doing it.
“It’s CBD,” Diaz explained. “It helps with the healing process and inflammation and stuff like that. So you wanna get these before, after the fight, training. It’ll make your life a better place.”
Back then, basically ancient history on the timeline of cannabis legalization, any form of cannabis, including non-psychoactive CBD, was flat-out prohibited by the UFC’s anti-doping policy.
Now, three years later, the UFC has changed its stance on weed. In light of the growing acknowledgement of the medical and therapeutic uses of cannabis and expanding legalization, the UFC no longer completely bans cannabis. Under its new rules, which came about thanks to the relentless advocacy of fans, trainers and athletes like Diaz, CBD is legal both in and out of competition. (CBD is also legal across the United States, thanks to the 2018 Farm Bill.)
In fact, earlier this year the UFC inked a multi-million dollar CBD deal with Aurora Cannabis. The UFC still bans THC in-competition. But consuming THC in the off-season will no longer land fighters with suspension.
Thanks to the new rules, Diaz could fearlessly spark up a hemp CBD joint during his open workout. Times are definitely changing.