UFC president Dana White speaks to the media after touring the Aurora Sky facility, in Edmonton on Friday, July 26, 2019. Aurora and the UFC have announced the launch of a clinical research study on the use of CBD by MMA athletes.
David Bloom / Postmedia
Edmonton-based Aurora Cannabis Inc. is going to use UFC athletes as test subjects for cannabidiol (CBD) treatments in a deal that will make Aurora’s new ROAR Sports brand the official CBD product of the UFC.“We truly believe this is the future,” said Dana White, president of the UFC, on Friday at Aurora’s Sky facility in Edmonton.Having the UFC logo on Aurora’s topical cream will be a boost to the company’s medicinal brand, and save Aurora an estimated two years in product development, said Aurora Cannabis Inc. CEO Terry Booth.“They’re pretty consistent test patients. If it works for these guys, it’s going to work for your regular athlete as well,” said Booth at the news conference Friday.Aurora will lead a team researching cannabidiol, or CBD, as an effective treatment for pain, inflammation, wound-healing, and recovery using volunteer MMA athletes as test subjects, eventually leading to the development of new hemp-derived CBD topicals, or creams.Once research is complete, any resulting product will be marketed in the U.S. under the new brand ROAR Sports. The end-game is for ROAR Sports to become the official CBD product of UFC.The details of the eight-year-deal have not been fleshed out publicly, but White suggested the partnership would be similar to the UFC’s outfitting deal with Reebok, the organization’s official uniform. The Reebok deal excludes third-party sponsorship or branding on fighter’s apparel in the Octagon.More than 50 per cent of UFC athletes polled are already taking CBD oil, according to White. Some of them enjoy sponsorship deals with CBD manufacturers, including Brazilian mixed martial artist Cris “Cyborg” Justino. Scheduled to fight in Edmonton at UFC 240 on Saturday, Justino had her CBD products, which cannot be legally transported across the Canadian border, confiscated by customs officials at the Edmonton International Airport.“Fighters can have their own sponsors outside of the UFC. They can do whatever they want outside of the UFC,” said White.The products resulting from Aurora’s research project are also meant to help combat the rapidly growing market of untested CBD treatments currently being used by high-performance athletes.“Every time we have an athlete that goes into a supplement store anywhere in the world, they’re taking risk. They don’t know what’s inside the supplements. They could test positive — lots of different bad things could happen. This stuff is going to be tested and basically built for the athletes,” said White.“This is the future of athlete health and safety, pain issues, getting people off certain medication that they’re taking right now, whether it be sleeping pills, opioids, and a lot of other dangerous pills,” said White.UFC athletes will participate only as volunteers, but Dr. Jason Dyck, chairman of Aurora’s Global scientific oversight committee and leader of the multi-phase clinical study, anticipates it will be easy to recruit many of the UFC’s almost 600 fighters to the study.“They’ll be our beta testing, we’ll be doing trials on them — finding the ones that work best (and) optimizing it. Ideally, it will get the UFC stamp of approval and we’ll roll out other lines for commercial purposes,” said Dyck.The UFC’s nearest competitor, Bellator, announced a similarly exclusive deal with cannabidiol company cbdMD in June.email@example.com