In the modern world of expanding legalization, more athletes are turning to cannabis as medicine, including in the UFC.
Middleweight fighter Gilbert Urbina is among the Ultimate Fighting Championship athletes who use cannabis regularly for its various therapeutic benefits.
But therapeutic cannabis use is not a new concept to Urbina, having been introduced to it in his late teens.
Urbina says he began using cannabis approximately nine years ago after moving into a shared fighter residence in 2014.
He had moved to the South Florida residence just a few days after graduating high school.
“I lived in a fighter house with my brothers Hector and Eli (dragon house), and it was a cannabis-friendly home full of UFC fighters: Justin Scroggins, Leo Kuntz, Hector Urbina, Brian Houston, Justin Edwards, and current ONE FC Strawweight World Champion Jarred Brooks,” says Urbina. “All these fighters showed me how great cannabis was and firsthand how it could benefit us in our lifestyle that we all shared.”
Knocking Out Stigma to Elevate Athletes
More-widespread legalization, research, greater acceptance, and outspoken athletes have prompted professional sports organizations to rethink their policies.
The NFL has provided funding to research cannabis’ potential in pain treatment, and the MLB allows personal use for players.
MLB changed its policy to allow personal use earlier this year, but players may not form partnerships with cannabis companies.
In April, the Chicago Cubs announced CBD beverages would be available at Wrigley Field under a new partnership.
But while the NFL and MLB are beginning to adapt to the times, the UFC is a few steps ahead.
The UFC signed U.K.-based Love Hemp Group as an official CBD sponsor the same year.
UFC had partnered with Aurora Cannabis in 2019 to research CBD use for wellness and recovery.
An Urbina-Gelato Tag Team
Urbina recently partnered with Gelato Canna Co. in a collaboration aiming to normalize athlete cannabis use.
The partnership also focuses on fighting the stigma that cannabis users are couch-locked stoners.
Urbina says he sees the notion as something many have used to widely and inaccurately portray cannabis users.
But he says the times have changed, and many people’s minds with them.
“I feel like it was always just a stigma that cannabis was a bad thing,” says Urbina. “Nowadays the best athletes in the world use cannabis for the same benefits I use it for! It’s a natural alternative rather than taking pain pills for smoking tobacco, which are some of the leading causes of death all around the globe.”
Urbina says cannabis has been a great help in his time as a professional MMA fighter.
He says he uses cannabis as part of his post-training routine to relax and help spark his creative side.
His favorite smokes are Gelato’s top-shelf flower bags and diamond-and-kief-fortified 1-gram prerolls.
“Cannabis has definitely helped me throughout my career,” says Urbina. “I’d say my favorite part of the day is rolling up some Gelato after a hard training session! I like the creativity that comes from smoking Gelato and how it takes that edge off when you feel beat up from training or run down from a week of training. It keeps my mind fresh!”