Looking at a mixed martial artist, one can't help but marvel at their physique, which resembles an ancient Greek sculpture. But all those muscles and single digit fat percentage are a by-product of being put through flames and then hammered on the anvil, day in and day out.
We've heard fighters say on many occasions that training's the hardest part of fighting, not the fight itself. One cannot begin to imagine the inhuman amount of willpower that can make a fighter train as though they were thoroughbreds in a constant race.
The kind of training fighters do is to induce hypertrophy which translates to muscle building. But lifting weights, cardio, sparring and other exercises that put stress on muscles actually destroy existing muscle. With the precise rest and nutrition, the muscles that succeed them are stronger, faster and tougher. The human body wasn't meant to be battered that way but fighters don't have the luxury of lengthy rests that allow them to heal.
This is why most MMA fighters smoke marijuana. One of the compounds in marijuana, cannabidiol or CBD, has been proved to have powerful healing properties and helps alleviate pain to a certain degree. Watchdogs USADA and WADA this year removed CBD from their list of banned substances.
According to UFC hype man Joe Rogan, there are more fighters in the UFC who partake of the sacred herb than those who don't Let's take a look at some who are very vocal in their advocacy of marijuana use:
#5 Matt Riddle
Those who watched The Ultimate Fighter season 7 will find Matt Riddle hard to forget. His constant smile might have earned him the nickname "Chipper" from coach Rampage Jackson, but his fighting style was the polar opposite. His ticket into the TUF house was what Rampage called "the knockout of the century".
Despite not winning the show, Riddle was signed to the UFC, where he won his first three fights. The next few bouts brought mixed fortunes, but Riddle seemed back on track with consecutive wins against Henry Martinez and Chris Clements; that was until the second of those wins was overturned into a No Contest because he tested positive for marijuana. Seven months later, history repeated itself and Riddle was released from the UFC.
Riddle said that he smoked marijuana to help with aches and pains because he couldn't stomach painkillers. Considered an exciting fighter, Riddle didn't hold back from voicing his displeasure at being released for smoking marijuana, considering that TRT, which has since been and stayed banned, was legal at the time. Riddle is now a pro-wrestler and was voted Wrestling Observer Newsletter's "Rookie of the Year" and "Most Improved Wrestler of the Year" for 2016. With his personality and a surname like "Riddle", he didn't have to worry about a gimmick.
#4 Jon Fitch
Former UFC Welterweight title challenger and WSOF Jon Fitch is one of the most outspoken marijuana activists in MMA. Following a close friend's death from an overdose of painkillers in 2008 and a bad experience with painkillers after rotator cuff surgery in 2011, Fitch became a medical marijuana patient.
Fitch has urged other fighters to speak out about the benefits of marijuana and doesn't agree with its bad reputation, saying, "You can be successful, you can be a good parent, you can be a good husband and person. You can do all of these good and positive things and still use cannabis”
Earlier this month, Jon Fitch revealed that he is in a contract discussion with Bellator Fighting Championships.
#3 Mike Perry
Whether it's faces tattoos or ragdolling opponents and knocking them out with elbows, subtlety isn't "Platinum" Mike Perry's strong suit. The brash Welterweight recently posted a video where he's walking near the site of the October 2017 at the Las Vegas Strip and talks about how grateful he is for the life that he has. And at one point, the camera lingered on the half-smoked blunt in his hand. Mike Perry's known to let his actions do the talking, so I guess the message is loud and clear.
#2 Jake Shields
The former UFC Welterweight title challenger's isn't the first name that comes to mind among MMA fighters who champion marijuana usage. But it's not a shocker considering that he's part of the Scrap Pack - a close-knit group of Californian fighters which include, you guessed it, the Diaz brothers.
It is understandable that Shields wouldn't trumpet the cause from the rooftops because of the stigma attached, but at a 2016 convention for MMA fighters and BJJ players who support marijuana usage (Cannathlete), Shields credited marijuana for opening up his mind to more techniques. He said, "It is a big part of the training for a lot of people. I definitely don’t smoke every day, but sometimes it is a good way to go in there and smoke a little bit and be a little more creative — like sometimes when you are in a big training camp before a competition, it really makes training fun again."
#1 Nick and Nate Diaz
The Diaz brothers are to MMA what Snoop Dogg is to rap. And even the Doggfather tipped his hat to Nick Diaz by inviting him for a toke on the GGN show.
Nick Diaz has never bothered to hide his affinity for Mary Jane, even revealing in a 2009 interview how he passed drug tests: “I can pass a drug test in eight days with herbal cleansers. I drink 10lbs of water and sweat out 10lbs of water every day. I’ll be fine.”
In 2015, this worked in two tests by an agency approved tester, but came up short in another test by an unapproved tester. Diaz was Stockton slapped with a 5-year ban and a $165,000 fine, later reduced to 18 months and $100,000. As reported by media in December 2016, he has $75,000 to pay and has opted to close it in monthly installments of $1000. If he fights outside the state of Nevada, he has 90 days to pay the remainder - so mark on your calendars the UFC events coming up in Vegas because we might see him on one of those cards.
Nate Diaz one-upped his brother by actually vaping CBD oil during the UFC 202 post-fight press conference. And the kicker? His brazenness literally paid off because he was paid by figures in the marijuana industry! Nate Diaz has been inactive since his epic clash with Conor McGregor but even if a large chunk of the $2 million he made for that fight is gone, he and his brother keep up the cash flow with their own weed strain (as per Michael Bisping). Tyron Woodley recently said that Nate Diaz might return to face him for the 170 lbs belt this year.