How Can CBD Benefit MMA Fighters and Athletes?

Mixed Material Arts (MMA) is a high-energy, full-combat sport that celebrates various martial art styles. However, it’s as brutal as it is popular. 

MMA fighters run the risk of injury every time they enter the ring, whether in training or an organized fight. That’s why both pre and post-preparation for a fight is paramount to success. Many fighters, such as Nate Diaz, are using CBD, a natural substance found in hemp plants, to achieve optimal preparation. 

But what is the best CBD for energy, can CBD balm speed-up recovery time, and is CBD legal to use in professional matches? 

We’ll answer these questions and more in our CBD for athletes article. 

The Risks of MMA

Whether you’re a sparring partner, competitive MMA fighter, or any athlete, partaking in intense physical activity always involves risk. 

In competitive MMA alone, fighters are permitted to use fighting techniques from various disciplines such as Karate, Taekwondo, Brazillian Jiu-Jitsu, and boxing. 

Striking and grappling with your opponent, on your feet and the ground, is accepted in the ring. And unsurprisingly, this has resulted in some gruesome injuries that include:

  • Lacerations
  • Dislocated sockets
  • Concussion
  • Fractures
  • Aches and pains

In fact, one study reported that for every 1000 athlete exposures to MMA, 228.7 injuries were reported. This suggests that almost half of all fights result in an injury. 

However, the risk is not always visible. Mental fatigue, stress, and anxiety also play a part in the athlete’s process. 

So, how does CBD fit into the puzzle?

Is There a CBD Benefit in MMA?

CBD has become somewhat of a buzzword in the health industry, and this interest has slowly seeped into the sporting world. 

Most of this curiosity is down to the potential health benefits this compound has shown. Let’s break down a few below. 

  • Reduced Anxiety and Stress: Pre-match anxiety often results in unwanted nerves that could affect performance. Some research has indicated that CBD has the potential to improve anxiety symptoms, such as increased heart rate. 


  • Increased Energy: An obvious pre-fight necessity to any MMA fighter is energy. Regulating blood sugar levels and increased alertness are just some examples of how CBD may be beneficial. 


  • Reduced Inflammation: Pain, redness, and swelling are just a few signs of inflammation, and MMA fighters are no stranger to this sight. Interestingly, many believe that CBD is effective in reducing inflammatory pain and improving comfort to joint aches. 


  • Improved Sleep: Quality sleep is vital for any athlete. During sleep, the body produces growth hormones that help our body repair. Similarly, the immune system is also at work, fighting inflammation and infection within the body. CBD products combined with melatonin have shown great potential to regulate sleep patterns, which has both physical and mental benefits.

Is CBD Legal for MMA Fighters and Athletes?

Currently, CBD is permitted for use in professional sports by the World Anti Doping Agency (WADA). However, there are a few important things to note.

All other cannabinoids, such as THC and CBG, are prohibited. This means full-spectrum and even broad-spectrum CBD products will likely not pass a doping examination pre-competition. 

Even when just used for training, cannabinoids can be found in urine and blood samples for months, although this can vary. 

Since CBD isolates contain a minimal amount of additional cannabinoids, they may be considered a safer product from a WADA perspective. 

All in all, athletes will have to be very conscientious about what CBD product they consume and when.  

How Do MMA Fighters Use CBD?

It’s no secret that when MMA fighter Nate Diaz pulled at a CBD vape pen after his 2016 fight against Conor Mcgregor, CBD-use became a huge talking point in the sport. 

Other fighters such as Bas Rutten and Joe Schilling have also talked openly about CBD oils. But is one product more effective than another? 

CBD comes in many forms: capsules, vaping oil, gummies, creams, and most commonly, oral oils. However, choosing both a product and a strength will most likely come down to preference. 

Some fighters may prefer using a CBD topical to tackle localized areas of the body, while others might find the plethora of vape oil flavors more enjoyable. 

Either way, it’s clear that CBD in MMA is not going away anytime soon. 

About the Author

Writer and researcher Kayla Burns is a self-proclaimed hemp enthusiast. While completing her master’s degree in Nutrition and Dietetics from Central Michigan University, Kayla discovered a burning interest in hemp and its potential benefits. Inspired by what she learned through her studies, Kayla has since made it a mission to pass on this knowledge. She continues to contribute informative, engaging, and research-led articles about hemp on the WayofLeaf site and beyond. 

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