MMA fighters using marijuana
MMA fighters using marijuana

MMA Fighter Daniel Rodriguez Says Cannabis is the Key to His Recent Fighting Success

The MMA allows cannabis use for its athletes and many are using it for training and recovery

Posted by:
DanaSmith on Sunday Dec 5, 2021

mma figher daniel rodriguez uses cannabis

Many athletes have to go through a struggle before they peak in their career, during which they usually find cannabis to be a helpful tool in recovery and even success.


MMA fighter Daniel Rodriguez is one of them, and he’s also one of those who credits cannabis with helping him get to the top of his game even though he started his career at 28, which is when most athletes reach their peak.


Life Story


Rodriguez’s story is not unlike many successful people in the world. He starts out his teenage years in and out of jail and juvenile hall in Southern California, where it continued until his young adult years. But when he turned 25, he found himself a father and turned to the construction industry for a steady income.


However, he wasn’t satisfied.


He would see a gym called Tapout while commuting to work daily in Los Angeles. It sparked a fire inside of him, making him wonder what was possible if he was committed to training and professional growth. His girlfriend gifted him with a gym membership for their anniversary, and he used it as an opportunity to jumpstart his training. Coaches loved the fire in him; in fact, Kathy Long, one of them, is renowned as one of the world’s best kickboxers.


Long disclosed to the UFC that she saw a hunger in his eyes. “He came to me as a construction worker by day, and he trained harder than anybody else at night,” she tells them. “And there were days he’d walk in and I could see in his eyes that he was physically and emotionally exhausted, but he’d train harder than anybody there.”


Where He Is Today


Today, Rodriguez boasts of 16 wins, 2 losses, and having the 16th best welterweight fighter mention in the world. He says cannabis is one of the tools he’s been able to succeed at a tough sport so fast.


“The coaches were just constantly trying to get me to learn new things. My main focus was always on the boxing aspect of it because I have a lot of knockout power,” he tells TheGrowthOp. It didn’t take long for him to love the sport, and he eventually switched over to MMA where it was simpler for him to be open about his cannabis use.


“Boxers are not so open about cannabis consumption,” he explains. “They’re more cautious when it comes to that. Those guys would probably be tripping out that I made it this far being such a cannabis user.” He adds that cannabis was an important training tool that helped him get things done, as opposed to seeing it that was an obstacle to his success.


“Any time you see me smoking, the next thing you will see me doing is working out or training,” Rodriguez says. “I think it’d be different if I smoked and didn’t work out or wasn’t doing what I’m supposed to be doing.”


“I kind of get lost in training when I use cannabis,” he adds. “Like this morning, I smoked a joint, drank some coffee, threw on my headphones and went for a long run. It gets me a little more focused, gets me in my zone, and I’m not really thinking about the difficulty of the run.”


And after all that energy is used to focus on working out, he says that at the end of the day, cannabis also helps relax him.


“As an athlete, especially at this level, it can be a lot of pressure at times. It may keep you up all night just thinking about the pressures of fighting in front of the whole world. It gives me a mental focus that I normally wouldn’t have, it gets me loose and gets me into a more creative zone.”


“It allows us to smoke and still do our job,” he says, going on to add that cannabis use among MMA athletes is also a chance for them to win sponsorship deals with marijuana businesses.

UFC Cannabis Policy


In January this year, the UFC announced that they will no longer punish athletes if they test positive for cannabis use. The new rules are based on an agreement between the United States Anti-Doping Agency and the UFC, because prior to that, there were at least 5 fighters on the team who had to be suspended within the last 12 months because they tested positive for pot.


“In a significant number of cases involving cannabinoids, we found that the THC presence was residual and provided no performance-enhancing benefit nor impairment at the levels found,” explains Ryan Carpenter, USAA UFC and Premier Sport senior manager.


“The only concern that we have here with marijuana, it’s an in-competition prohibited drug only,” says UFC Vice President for athlete health and performance Jeff Novitzky. “So you want to make sure the fighters aren’t impaired when they’re fighting. And the reality, and what the science shows with marijuana, is strictly a level in urine or blood really has no scientific correlation with impairments.”


In addition, Novitzky told MMA Fighting that marijuana use may be performance enhancing only if the fighter is obviously impaired.


“We’re making the leap that if you’re under the influence, there is some performance-enhancing benefit there,” he says. “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,” he says.








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