UFC, Aurora Cannabis Deal Continues $20B Growth Of CBD In U.S. Sports, Wellness
Tuesday, May 21, 2019 at 08:21PM
NYSportsJournalism.com in UFC, UFC, caanabis, sports health, sports marketing

By Barry Janoff

May 21, 2019: The UFC has signed what was called an exclusive, multi-year, multi-million dollar, global partnership with Aurora Cannabis, a Canada-based company that is “defining the future of cannabis worldwide.”

The alliance is “expected to significantly advance further clinical research on the relationship between 100% hemp-derived Cannabidiol (CBD) products and athlete wellness and recovery, with a view to accelerating CBD product development and education.”

Financial terms of the deal were not shared.

"Since the day we opened the UFC Performance Institute, our primary goal was to offer UFC athletes the best possible training, nutrition, and recovery services," Dana White, UFC president, said via the organization.

“This partnership with Aurora is an extension of that goal, and we're looking forward to collaborating with Aurora to find new ways to improve the health and safety of athletes who compete in UFC."

The UFC deal is the latest example of the CBD category moving into mainstream sports.

The NFL and NFL Players Association this week unveiled two joint agreements that will support additional resources directed to address pain management and behavioral health.

The NFL and NFLPA said they would form a Joint Pain Management Committee to include medical experts appointed by both the league and union.

The committee “will establish uniform standards for club practices and policies regarding pain management and the use of prescription medication by NFL players as well as conduct research concerning pain management and alternative therapies.”

The committee's research will include cannabis, cannabinoids and CBD, Allen Sills, the lNFL’s chief medical officer, told NFL.com.

The Big3, founded by Ice Cube and entertainment executive Jeff Kwatinetz, recently signed a deal with cbdMD, which offers a comprehensive line of natural, THC-free, hemp-derived CBD oil products. The pact includes exclusive logo placement on all Big3 jerseys.

"Last year, Big3 became the first professional sports league in the U.S to allow players to use CBD for pain treatment and recovery," Kwatinetz said via the league. "We did this out of compassion for our guys because CBD can help them without enhancing their performance or having an intoxicating effect. It's a win win."

The collective market for CBD sales is expected to exceed $20 billion in the U.S. by 2024, according to a new report from BDS Analytics and Arcview Market Research.

The market includes cosmetics, health products, food and beverage, pet products, skin care and pharmaceuticals.

BDS Analytics’ predicts U.S. sales of cannabis- and hemp-derived CBD products to go from $1.9 billion in 2018 to $20 billion by 2024.

“We’re witnessing CBD maturing from a cannabis sub-category into a full-blown industry of its own,” Roy Bingham, co-founder and CEO of BDS Analytics, said via the Boulder, Col.-based firm.

“Our growth forecast for the CBD market, across all distribution channels, predicts a compound annual growth rate of 49%  by 2024. This is a great opportunity for all involved, but it means the road ahead will include decisions that need to be informed by the best possible data.”

The UFC-Aurora research will be conducted at the UFC's Performance Institute in Las Vegas, in collaboration with UFC's sports performance team, as well as “with athletes who choose to participate in the studies.”

Clinical studies will focus on pain management, inflammation, injury/exercise recovery, and mental well-being.

Aurora said its research would be led by Dr. Jason Dyck, a 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."

The UFC Performance Institute, which opened in Las Vegas in 2017, has served more than 400 athletes over the past two years, according to the UFC.

The UFC said the facility is a “global leader in athletic performance research and provides support and educational services to athletes on health, well-being, nutrition, and injury prevention.”

According to Terry Booth, CEO of Aurora, Edmonton, “This global partnership places focus squarely on the health and well-being of UFC's talented and highly trained athletes.

“The Aurora-UFC research partnership creates a global platform to launch targeted educational and awareness campaigns, while creating numerous opportunities to accelerate our global CBD business."

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