On Wednesday UFC and Aurora Cannabis hosted a press conference to discuss their ground-breaking partnership that is expected to significantly advance clinical research on the relationship between 100% hemp derived Cannabidiol (CBD) products and athlete wellness and recovery.
Aurora is a Canadian company, which is currently working in 24 countries and started in 2013. The research will be conducted at the UFC’s Performance Institute in Las Vegas in collaboration with the Performance Institute’s expert staff, as well as with athletes who choose to participate in the studies.
Aurora’s research will be led by Dr. Jason Dyck, Professor at the University of Alberta and a Canada Research Chair in Molecular Medicine. He also serves as an independent director on the board of Aurora Cannabis, where he provides valuable oversight for the Company’s scientific efforts.
UFC President Dana White believes that this eight-year partnership will allow the UFC to best support its athletes.
“This is a ground-breaking deal, not just for the UFC but for sports and humanity in general,” White said. “When you think about this the amount of money that’s going to go into the testing and the research of this deal is going to affect our athletes, then it’s going to spill into the NFL, the NBA and soccer. And eventually into just regular people like us that workout every day or deal with chronic pain. I believe that this thing really is the future and when we see things like this we’ve always been first to dive in.”
Aurora CEO Terry Booth also believes this partnership will change the future of the CBD market.
“Our partnership with UFC is about committing to the science that will educate and advocate,” said Aurora CEO Terry Booth. “We are going to work together to change the way people think, to change the industry, and to launch the first hemp-derived CBD products that are backed by scientific research. The brand-building and product development are all part of our move into the U.S., and in collaboration with UFC, and we intend to play a major role in that market.”
Duncan French, PHD who is the UFC VP of Performance, will lead the research charge at the UFC Performance Institute.
Phase one of the research will be to understand usage, collecting insights and information. Phase two will be a process of looking at creating clinical efficacy by utilizing volunteer athletes to test the initial information discovered in the research phase.
“I think the thing about the Performance Institute is that we try to position ourselves as the leaders in health, well-being and performance,” Dr. French said. “We’re very excited about pushing the boundary of our insights and innovating around the concept of maximizing the health and well-being of all athletes.”
Dr. Dyck will be working hand-in-hand with Dr. French and he is confident that CBD products will be refined and truly benefit the health of UFC’s athletes.
“We will be able to provide the UFC with clear evidence that determines which products are the best products to provide to their athletes,” Dr. Dyck said. “At the end of the day we are looking to make evidence based research on CBD products and understand how to best help athlete recover and improve the overall health of UFC fighters.”
Jeff Novitzky, TITLE, the UFC anti-doping program Jan 1, 2018 CBD was removed from the WADA prohibited list making it completely legal for UFC athletes to use at any time. Novitzky believes he’s been told that anecdotally, nearly half of UFC’s athletes have or currently use CBD.
“It’s huge. In my world the number one priority is directing athlete toward safe things to take,” Novitzky said. “Whether it be supplements, CBD products or food products, CBD is here to stay and jumping on this early teaming with a company like Aurora and being able to provide our athletes with safe and tested products is giant.”
UFC and Aurora expect to begin phase one as soon as possible and they hope that phase two will be underway within the next six months.
Learn more about Aurora Cannabis here.
Gavin Porter is a digital producer and writer for UFC.com, follow him on Twitter at @PorterUFCNews