A Recent UFC Fight Reeked of So Much Weed, It Interrupted Joe Rogan's Commentary
Not only the broadcast hosts noticed — fighters in the ring did too.
Published on April 13, 2023

UFC fans and commentators were practically hotboxed during a welterweight bout over the weekend, fighting blog BJ Penn reported

Even UFC fighter Kevin Holland said he could smell cannabis fumes coming from where the crowd was seated during his match.

Apparently, broadcast host Daniel Cormier heard Holland remark to his opponent Santiago Ponzinibbio, “You smell weed?” The query took place at approximately the four minute mark in their fight’s first round.

“Is that what he said?” laughed Cormier’s co-hosts Jon Amik and Joe Rogan.

“Yeah, that’s exactly what he said to Ponzinibbio,” said Cormier. Apparently, Ponzinibbio didn’t respond to his opponent’s question — Holland wasn’t the only one catching the 420 vibe, as Rogan and Cormier quickly asserted that they had caught whiff of the loud as well.

As cannabis prohibition begins to soften worldwide, it appears that sports fans are taking their tokes to the game—and athletes aren’t always so thrilled about the prospect. Last year, loud-spoken Australian tennis standout Nick Kyrgios complained to a US Open chair umpire about the marijuana fumes that he said left him “struggling to breathe.”

(We can’t — cough — quite blame fans for wanting to flavor their courtside experience with a little cannabis flavor. That being said, it’s also quite valid for people who make their living off their lung capacity to get a little edgy when defending their gameday air purity! Respect the hustle, stoner friends.)

All this being said, the UFC has been a relatively cannabis-friendly pro sports league for a couple of years now, ever since a 2021 announcement came down that athletes would no longer be punished for positive cannabis tests. The previous year, MMA fighters had participated in a study examining whether CBD could help protect them from traumatic brain injury. The UFC decision proved to be the first of others that impacted pro fighters, like a similar announcement that came down a few months later from the Nevada State Athletic Commission.

“I think our goal is to test for performance-enhancing drugs to ensure a level playing field,” said then-NSAC executive director Bob Bennett at the time. “The fact that [cannabis] is not a performance-enhancing drug, I do not believe we should test for it any longer.”

These changes should be accredited at least in part to fighters who refused to cease their weed consumption in the face of prohibitionist policy. Nick Díaz is perhaps the best know pot pioneer in the UFC, having seen his career derailed after a string of positive tests. League officials censured Díaz, saying that he was using marijuana as a performance-enhancing drug because pot could make him “numb to the pain.”

After Díaz was handed down a boggling five-year league suspension, his brother Nate went on to become a cannabis advocate. He famously vaped at a post-match conference, pointed commentary on the league’s frustrating treatment of his family member.

But again, there’s a big difference between letting athletes consume cannabis when they wish to do so, and forcing them to inhale your fumes at a crucial moment in their career.

Follow Caitlin on Instagram, and catch her Spanish-language podcast Crónica on Spotify and Mixcloud.

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Caitlin Donohue
Caitlin Donohue is a Bay Area-raised, Mexico City-based cannabis writer and author of She Represents: 44 Women Who Are Changing Politics and the World. Her weekly show Crónica on Radio Nopal explores Mexican marijuana culture and politics in the prohibition era. Follow Caitlin on IG @byrdwatch.
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