In recent years, it has become common to see UFC fighters smoking weed in public. You may wonder, aren’t they worried about anti-doping tests and suspensions? Can UFC fighters smoke weed?
As of 2021, UFC fighters are allowed to smoke weed. The USADA anti-doping agency will no longer punish them if they have cannabinoids in their blood. This is only the case if USADA and Athletic Commission believes fighters didn’t use marijuana on purpose to improve their performance.
Keep reading this article to learn more about how and when the MMA world changed its stance on marijuana. We will also touch on who are the UFC fighters who smoke weed and why they do it.
Are UFC Fighters Allowed To Smoke Weed?
UFC fighters will no longer get suspensions for testing positive on weed. On January 2021, USADA publicly stated that they had removed THC from the list of banned substances. However, this doesn’t mean UFC fighters can smoke weed whenever they want to, and here is why.
USADA is not the only governing body responsible for testing fighters. The Athletic Commission of the state or country where the event occurs also has a say. In fact, state Commissions have been testing fighters for much longer than USADA.
A fighter with cannabinoids in their blood will probably get away with it as far as USADA is concerned. But, the same fighter might get suspended by the Athletic Commission of the state they compete in.
In most cases, state commissions test fighters before and after the fight. Therefore the fighters mustn’t have high levels of THC in their bodies during this period. According to Jeff Novitzky, athletes can smoke marijuana weeks ahead of the event but not right before the bout.
In UFC’s rules book, taking a joint right before the match is considered a way to intentionally get an advantage. As a result, fighters will be punished and suspended for doing so. Using marijuana to relieve pain and relaxation outside the competition, on the other hand, is completely fine.
“The scenarios that I could think of would be a fighter shows up fight night in the locker room, they have bloodshot eyes, they smell like marijuana, they’re slurring or a far-off gaze. There’s evidence that they recently used marijuana, I think would qualify as the performance-enhancing factor because they’re actively impaired at a fight.” – Jeff Novitzky, Senior Vice President of Athlete Health and Performance at the UFC.
However, most state Athletic Commissions began changing their stance on marijuana and doping policies. For example, on July 2021, the Nevada State Athletic Commission voted they would no longer discipline fighters for cannabis. And fans may expect many other states to follow this example shortly.
UFC Drug Testing Policy
The UFC has been cooperating with the USADA anti-doping agency since 2015. The partnership gives the agency full right to carry out the tests, catch fighters breaking the rules, and issue suspensions. Their work is entirely independent and not influenced by the UFC.
All MMA fighters who sign a contract with the UFC are also entering the USADA “testing pool.” This means agents can knock on their door anytime and anywhere.
It doesn’t matter if they are sleeping, partying, or training. They must stop what they are doing to provide the samples. If they plan a road trip, they first must let USADA know about it.
In 2015, USADA started carrying out around 3000 tests per year. As the years went by and with UFC putting more resources into it, the number of tests increased to 5,000 in 2021. There are more than 600 fighters on the roster, and UFC tests each athlete multiple times per year. Some of the most tested fighters are:
- Paulo Costa (23 times in 2021)
- Misha Cirkunov (27 times in 2021)
- TJ Dillashaw (25 times in 2021)
UFC fighters are not allowed to use and test positive for the following banned substances:
Prohibited in and out of competition:
- Non-approved substances
- Anabolic agents
- Peptide hormones and growth factors
- Beta-2 agonists
- Hormone and metabolic modulators
- Diuretics and masking agents
Prohibited in competition:
UFC Fighters Who Smoke Weed
It’s not a secret that many UFC fighters, including the most famous ones and champions, smoke marijuana for various benefits. Following is a list of fighters who, apart from smoking weed, advocate for the rule change and making marijuana legal:
UFC star Sean O’Malley has never been shy about his passion for marijuana. And, he is not just an occasional weed smoker. No, he has his own strain as well developed with the famous brand “Afrium.”
O’Malley secured his UFC contract on the Dana White Contender Series show. Shortly after the big win, he went backstage to celebrate his win with the rap legend Snoop Dogg.
In his own words, Snoop handed him a joint the moment he stepped into the trailer, and the two shared around half an hour together smoking weed and talking about fighting.
The UFC bantamweight also has his own podcast where he could be enjoying weed in just about every show.
Nick and Nate Diaz
Brothers Nick and Nate Diaz are synonymous with UFC fighters smoking weed. Unlike other fighters, these two were open about smoking marijuana back in the day when marijuana was on the list of banned substances, but not without consequences.
Throughout his career, the older Nick tested positive for cannabinoids several times. In 2015, he received a 5-year suspension and had to pay a $165,000 fine for a failed drug test. The worst part is that Nick was in his prime, and the suspension destroyed his career.
But 6 years later, his younger Nate would freely light up the joint at UFC events in front of the camera and during press conferences without any consequences.
The weirdest moment came in 2022 when he posted a video of himself smoking weed in front of the USADA agent who arrived at his house to take blood and urine samples.
The former Olympic gold medalist and UFC’s two-division champion, Henry Cejudo, smokes weed every single day. Although he had remained silent about his marijuana stance while he was an active UFC fighter, Cejudo started opening up about his addiction to weed shortly after retiring from the sport.
In his own words, he has been smoking weed since 2016 because it helps him relax. He was often seen smoking weed on popular shows while being a guest at the famous Hotboxin podcast with Mike Tyson.
Jon Jones is one of the greatest UFC fighters in history and a very controversial sports figure. Throughout his career, Jones was involved in many incidents and failed several doping tests, resulting in years of suspension.
However, he never tested positive for weed despite being open about using it and advocating for its legalization.
In fact, Jones has been smoking week since his high school and college days, and in his own words, he would often get high in between matches.
- Conor McGregor — is often posting photos and videos of himself smoking weed
- Ronda Rousey — is also open about her pro-cannabis views
UFC Fighters Who Got Suspended Because of Marijuana
Before marijuana became a legal substance, many fighters paid a high price for testing positive for cannabis. Here is a list of some of the most popular UFC athletes whose career was put on hold due to lengthy suspensions:
- Kevin Croom — tested positive for marijuana shortly after his submission win at UFC Fight Night 177 in 2020. He received a four-month suspension and a fine of $1,800.
- Niko Price — faced Doland Cerrone at UFC Fight Night 178 in a match that ended as a “No Contest.” Shortly after, his drug test came out positive for carboxy THC, resulting in a six-month suspension. He also faced an $8,500 fine.
- Matt Riddle — was a big advocate for marijuana usage. In 2012, he received a 90-day suspension for failing a drug test for the first time. But shortly after, he would fail another test for the same substance, ending with UFC releasing Riddle from their roster.
- Chyntia Cavillo failed a marijuana drug test in 2017, initially receiving a six-month suspension. However, USADA would extend the suspension to nine months and a $6.150 fine.
- Nick Diaz- first tested positive in 2007 when he received a six-month suspension. Five years later, in 2012, he would fail another test and, this time, receive a one-year suspension. But the commission had no mercy the third time he tested positive as they issued him a five-year suspension with a fine of $165,000.
UFC fighters smoke weed and have been doing it since the sport’s early days. But as of 2021, USADA will no longer suspend them for positive marijuana tests. All UFC fighters can now use weed without worrying about the legal consequences, as long as they do not use cannabis as a performance-enhancing drug.
However, they also must be careful as the Athletic Commission are yet to change its stance on marijuana. UFC fighters can’t smoke weed on the day of the fight or enter the octagon while being high.